“Don’t Should on yourself” Dr. Charlie Walker
We are going to switch topics a little to focus on goals and the motivations behind being able to reach goals. This can be focused on professional, personal, fitness, depression, anxiety, better relationships, or any other goals that you may be working on in your life. This is not going to focus on the planning or even the breakdown of S.M.A.R.T. goals, (Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Action orientated, realistic, and time specific) which of course are important, but will not get to that underbelly of what really allows some to reach goals and others to not.
Let’s say you want to go on a vacation. Vacations cost money (sometimes significant amount), travel time either flying or driving, sleeping in unfamiliar places, possible language issues, lots of planning, choosing where you want to go, and multiple other potential problems that could happen on a vacation. So why in the world would anyone ever want to go on a vacation knowing this? The simple answer is that people focus on the positive outcome that the vacation will bring them, which could be stress relief, lifetime memories, beautiful scenery, visiting a friend, etc……….
So of course it is in relation to those positive outcomes are the important part. I’ll go back to my personal training days when I often heard people express their goals like this. “I want to lose weight”, or my favorite was “I just want to tone up”. This is equivalent to saying, “I want to go on a vacation.” There is no real positive outcome with this or personal attachment to the goals. The next step closer was someone who came in and said “I want to lose x amount of weight.” This is closer because it gave us something to measure, but still no real positive outcome or personal attachment.
To reach your goal you must create that positive outcome and personal attachment for yourself. What is that goal going to do for you? How will that goal impact you and better your life? What are the very underlying reasons that you want to reach that goal? So basically “Why” is this important enough for you to work through the difficulties that it takes to reach that goal?
Now the question is why don’t we do this in relation to all of our goals? The usual suspects usually fall into these categories;
1. Fear of failure
2. Fear of giving things up/sacrificing
3. The goal is just not that important
The fear of failure tends to be the major one when it comes to not reaching a goal. “If I never really reach for the goal, I cannot fail.” Though this is a very irrational thought process, as there will be no goal attainment or often times very little progress towards the gain, which is creating a protected level of failure that was intended to be avoided in the first place. This brings out a second level of irrational thinking, because avoiding failure is an impossible task. Nobody fully succeeds throughout the entire process of reaching a goal.
So in this case, the rational response would be to take acceptance that reaching a goal will involve challenges and often times failures that will need to be overcome to reach the final outcome. It will never be perfect and may be delayed.
The Fear of giving things up/sacrificing can also be thought of as “letting your But get in the way.” I’d like to lose weight “but.” I’d like to do that “but.” How often has your “But” gotten in the way?
Ultimately this comes down to a level of prioritizing. What is more important to you?
It also focuses more attention on the thought of giving something up over the thought of gaining something. Are you more likely to eat healthier if you notice improvements in weight, health, and energy and focus on the positive outcomes or if you focus on giving up eating Big Mac’s for lunch everyday? Humans like to gain, but do not like to have to give things up. I encourage you to focus on that “Gain” when thinking about your goals.
The last one “the goal is just not important enough” usually falls under the category of trying to do something for others or something that you thought you are supposed to do. This is often the line of “I should do this.” When you feel as if you should do something, but don’t really have it as a personal goal. Maybe society, spouse, friends, job, parents, etc. tell you that you should. Though just to quote one of my favorite lines, “Don’t should on yourself.” Make the goals something that you want to do and find your benefit in those goals.