I’m not sure I’m the right person for this job, at least when it comes to having a brag-worthy list of goals I’ve set and crushed. But in my absolute failure to reach my goals, I’ve learned the secret on how to set goals and achieve them.
There is a surprise plot twist to the idea of goal setting that you can’t miss.
At this point, you may be wondering how I have found the answer on how to set goals and achieve them. Especially after one-failed attempt after another. I’m starting to realize my failed goals have been far more valuable than their achievement. Learning lessons allowing me to succeed long-term, not just arrive in the short-term.
Here is what I know.
No matter how SMART your goals are, it doesn’t make any promise that you’ll achieve them. It just creates a plan that leaves you longing for perfection to accomplish the said plan.
You don’t need more goals. You need fewer goals with better habits. That is the answer to how to set goals and achieve them – better habits.
My failed goals were the best thing that happened to me.
There was a point in my life when I would have given anything to lose weight on a very specific and calculated diet. Or PR’d in the 8k I set my goal to accomplish. I would have loved to hit that financial goal inside the business and get out of debt personally.
I gave up most of my adult life pursuing such attempts, setting the SMARTest goals possible. And yet, nothing. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I came up empty-handed and not for lack of trying. Although I was tempted to believe it was simply a result of my lack of effort, pushing me to work harder and hustle more, all while attempting to become the #girlboss the world told me I was.
It was going great. Well, the plan was until my life came to a screeching halt. I was tired, burnt out, and not seeing any results. My timeline left me more hopeless until I eventually gave up. Living in the belief that I was the problem.
I found myself hating the life I was living, making the assumption that goal setting should be a felony.
It felt like robbery, which is only a class B felony, that didn’t feel like enough punishment to take back what I had lost. Goal-setting was murder, punishable to life in prison.
The exact same place I wished it to be. Creating very strong opinions of goals that I kept to myself—fearing it would fall on deaf ears in a world that seemed to worship goal setting. But today, I break my silence. Today I say enough to a life spent giving up to become and enough to the traditional form of goal setting. There is one principle that will help you set goals and achieve them without losing your life.
The problem with goal setting.
To brush you up on a brief lesson about SMART goals, they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Or something to the sort. Maybe a better definition of smart goals is an external pursuit of something measurable.
You’ve most likely set them around your weight – something you can track and manage from day to day. They could also be:
- The size of your waist or the size sewn in the waistband of your pants.
- How many carbohydrates or calories you consume.
- The number looming in your bank account.
- The work-project you want to finish.
- How many followers you have on social media.
They all come with a realistic outcome you can track and a plan to reach the outcome. The problem isn’t the goal or the plan. It’s getting yourself to do what you know you should, taking the action necessary to complete the goal. Isn’t that always our problem?
The truth is, you don’t need better goals or a better plan – you need to understand why goal setting is impossible. And it’s not because you’re lazy. The problem is the chase of a destination.
Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a state of life. There is nothing wrong with desiring to arrive at a specific destination in life. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthier or have more money. But the pursuit of these things is often draining, creating the reason why it never works.
The reason goals don’t work is that they are energy drainers
The problem was what I have learned as the overwhelming problem around setting goals is how much they drained me. And the more drained I became, the more burnt out I felt, making it harder to stick with the plan even though I knew exactly what I needed to do.
It was becoming clear that doing the right thing, the thing I wanted, wasn’t as easy as I anticipated.
I found myself giving into cravings and eating the cookies that were not part of my health plan to achieve my goal.
I found myself buying the shirt when I had a plan to save money.
And I found myself fighting with my husband when the goal was to strengthen our relationship.
You could call it self-sabotage, but I think the real reason was that I was exhausting all of my energy trying to perfect the plan that I didn’t have anything left to implement the plan.
All because I had mixed up the purpose of goals from the beginning.
The real reason goal setting rarely works is not because the intention isn’t there but because we fail to see how draining achieving goals can be.
Like all external pursuits, goals require the use of energy, draining you of energy.
Don’t miss this because it can change your entire belief.
The reason why you set goals and fail to achieve them is not that you’re not capable. It’s because you’ve lost energy. You don’t have the energy to stick to the plan.
It’s the same story with every external pursuit, investing energy into the chase rather than in the habits that will give you the energy to live out the plan.
What I need you to know, goal setting is always an energy drain, even if it’s healthy.
The way to set goals and achieve them is through healthy habits
Habit formation is not as sexy or normalized as goal-setting. It’s talked about, even adopted as a great idea, but the investment is into goals, the sexier of two options rather than habits, which are the only way to achieve your goals.
Of course, not all habits are created equal, but if we get to the heart of change, habits are energy fillers. They’re the things you do that invest back into the whole of who you are, giving you the energy to go out and live.
Better said, habits are the catalyst of goals.
It’s always and only about energy movement. And that energy movement happens through your health. If you’re deprived of energy, no matter how SMART your goal is, you’ll always eat the food that is off your plan. You’ll hit snooze and miss your workout. You’ll do the things you know you shouldn’t do as a means to get the only thing your body needs, energy.
The good news is, you have everything you need to energize your body so that you can set goals and achieve them.
It always starts with healthy habits.
Change the plan this year and achieve your goals.
This year, I wonder what would change if you set the goal, perhaps far fewer goals, and invested the energy you would have into planning to achieve those goals into establishing habits that will be the catalyst to arriving?
Remember, the intended purpose of habits is to energize your body to get out and live. Creating habitual rhythms of your life that allow you to live life.
Go ahead and set the goal, but instead of focusing on the chase, focus on the filling. Looking to establish rhythms that will help you achieve what you long for. The best news is, a few healthy habits energize the whole of who you are, allowing you to achieve more goals than you ever have but with half the work.
Think about it this way.
If you want to lose weight, set the goal. But don’t get so investing in another draining plan or program that you miss the habits that will fill you with energy so you can move your body, so your cravings go away, so you sleep better, so you have more joy in life. Habits are the only way to achieve your goal, and they should be the focus.
Go ahead and set the goal but invest in the habit. Formulating healthy habits that make it last.
Here are five small ways to change your habits for good and 15 Healthy Habits to take into the New Year.
Remember, goals are draining, habits are filling. The key to success is always based on how filled you are. Stay energized and live filled by setting habits in joy.
Need help: Set your goals but invest in habits. Here’s how…
Habit setting over goal setting is definitely a new approach to life. But it comes with a pretty stellar outcome. Here are some tips if you’re struggling to set habits instead of goals.
01: Make a list of things that fill you. What things give you energy? It can be as simple as a glass of water or as big as a change in career. Anything and everything can be put on the list.
02: Look at the action in this list. What are simple things you can do right now to help you feel the energy flow.
03: Make a list of 3-6 of these and write them down.
04: Track them. It will take time and consistency for these to become a part of your rhythm. Remember, this step isn’t forever, just temporary.
05: Drop the scarcity mindset and step into the abundance of energy flow. Fixate on what the habit produces, focus on the feeling and find the reward inside the action.
I have created the perfect tool to track all of your habits. The Nourished Planner helps you set habits according to your goals and start tracking them. A simple daily checkmark keeps you focused on what matters, the energy fillers. Shop the Nourished Planner here and get started today.