I think most of us know that busy lives are usually happy lives. But I think we’ve also been sold a bill of goods with our thinking that if we could only make lots of money then we could quit or retire and sit by the pool drinking Mai Tai’s the rest of our lives and be happy as pigs in slop. I am here to tell you that it just ain’t true!
We think this because when we are working hard and staying busy and then we take a break –going on vacation or a quick getaway–it makes us feel so good and refreshed that we mistakenly believe that if we could just do that all the time we’d have a permanent refreshed and a super great feeling. But it doesn’t work like that. The fact is, if we don’t do the hard work then it’s really not a break and it doesn’t give us any reward or, at most, very little reward. We must all burn into our brains that the pause or the break should always remain as just that and never become a permanent thing.
Look at the recent London Olympics. Think of the four years of work that lead up to the moment we watched those young people step up on the award platform. Those award ceremonies were their break and their reward and you could see how immensely they enjoyed it. But what would become of those athletes lives if they sat back, doing nothing, trying to make that super reward moment last the rest of their lives without doing any more hard work? We can all imagine it, their lives going quickly downhill because each day there would be nothing to look forward to.
We all need to take a much harder look at our own lives and make sure we don’t ever turn the pause into a permanent state of living. Passionate, fulfilled lives come from action and staying busy. Push yourself hard then, and only then, take a break and celebrate your hard work and accomplishments.
We started a couple months ago talking about things we could do to improve ourselves. Since then we’ve talked about communication, health, will power and more. Each of these posts set up possible goals you might want to have for yourself. So … did you set a goal … or two or ten? Just how are you doing with them?
It is not enough to just set a goal and attempt it. You need to regularly check in and see where you are at with your goal, if you need to adjust your deadlines or other details, and take time to review the reasons for going after these goals allowing you to become recommitted.
Some people can do this on their own or with the help of scheduling software but in either case they feel accountable to themselves and follow up. Many more of us need outside help. If you tell a spouse, family member or friend what you goal is, you will feel more committed because someone besides yourself knows about it. But if you need a little extra push don’t just tell these people what you want to do, ask them to help you. Ask that they remind you of your goal and why you are working towards it and have them kindly inquire how you are progressing so you feel some accountability to them. Having someone as a goal buddy, someone who has set a goal for themselves–the goal can be completely different from yours too– can help keep both of you on track and motivated as you support and cheer each other on.
Regardless, checking in on a regular basis to see how you are doing will help keep you on track. You can celebrate all the small accomplishments you’ve had and figure out how to better accomplish those items you may not have completed as well you hoped to.
Reaching your goal takes continuous vigilance but it’s a wonderful and joyful vigilance. Congratulate yourself on your progress and your continued efforts every step of the way. That alone can give you the boost you need to get each task done and realize your dream.
I am sure all would agree there is nothing in the world more precious than family and good friends. Here is the story of a true “Gold Medal Friend.”
To my 96 year old super step mom Merle and our many, many great “Gold Medal Friends!” I hope you enjoy this great story that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune on Monday about another gold medalist, this time it was an Olympic Gold Medal In Friendship and it may have even saved my wife Kimberly’s life.
A friend always, Mark O.
I have been talking about strategies that work based on scientific research done and summarized in Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct. I promised I would give you more strategies to work on this week. But before I give you some more strategies that will help you to stick with your goals I wanted to share with you a very interesting conclusion from Woman’s World magazine about an extra benefit of setting a lot of goals.
They said based on 12 year research project of Robert Wilson at Rush University medical center in Chicago —”whether you long to write a novel or learn to ski, a new study shows that people with the most goals have an 89% lower risk of ever developing Alzheimer’s disease! Having goals makes you less prone to stress and depression, which have been linked to a great risk of Alzheimer’s”. Wow! That alone ought to motivate us to not only have more goals but develop a good solid workable strategy for sticking with and reaching our goals. I mean let’s face it, the more with are able to stick with our goals the more likely we are willing and wanting to set more and more goals for ourselves.
So here is another strategy or two that work.
1. This week, work on remembering what it is you really want when you are tempted to give in to your human side. For example … do you really want that great looking brownie or do you really want to fit into a pair of skinning jeans?
2. Work this week on changing your brain and I mean changing it physically. You really can change it physically by doing one little thing every day for 5 minutes: Meditation. It has been proven with MRI brain scans that just 5 minutes of meditation a day increases the blood flow to your brain and consequently actually increases the size of your grey matter.
Just a little more focus and those five minutes a will help keep you from being distracted as easily which can help you succeed in sticking with the goals you set for yourself. That gives you more of that thing we all want more of—-Willpower!
So, as I was mentioning last week, I have this goal to be in the best shape of my life. There is no reason that I can’t achieve my goals. But it will take a lot of work and dedication. That is the issue—not whether I can achieve this but keeping with the program.
I was just 10 days into my new program when I found myself breaking some of my work out and eating goals. Ouch! That pissed me off at myself. Not sticking with my goals was the bad news but there was good news and its news that can help anybody who is serious about setting and sticking with their goals.
What I did was to go back to that great book by Kelly McGonigal PhD, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”. I have this habit of skipping around in books to quickly find the real gems and in doing that I often miss key points. This was one such book. To my great delight, this time around I discovered a few critical secrets that I totally missed before.
I am going to give you just a couple of her gems starting this week and then adding to them in the next week or two. Kelly’s advises readers to try only one new strategy per week so here are a couple options.
1. Get To Know Yourself: Know when and where and why you are likely to give up on your goal. You must be able to see how and why you stop short. So this week I am going to work on becoming more aware of when I am making choices related to my will power. I think it is quite reassuring to know that everyone struggles in some way with temptation, addiction, distraction and procrastination. These are not weaknesses but simply part of the human condition and something we can work on.
2. Pay Attention to How You Talk to Yourself About Your Willpower: What do you say to yourself when you procrastinate and how do you judge your willpower shortcomings and successes?
Put just one of these ideas into practice. Once you become more aware of where the temptation is coming from and what you tell yourself that gives you permission to give up, you will be better able to halt that behavior and stick to your goals.
Check back next week for another couple great ideas.