Starting With the Why

It’s that time of year again. When we all start thinking about the year that was, and the year that will be… and what we want from another spin on this awesome planet of ours.

So many of us waltz into making resolutions for the new year that sound a lot like:

  • Lose weight
  • Get a better job
  • Make more money
  • Drink less
  • Eat less

Sound familiar?

Most of us careen into setting our resolutions and goals without thinking about what’s motivating them, how long it will take to achieve them, or setting a plan in place to get to the end result.

Many experts will argue that the goals you set should be smart: specific, measurable, attainable/actionable, relevant, and time-bound. While I agree… to a certain extent (after all, by trade I’m a strategist), I believe one thing is more important that that:

Knowing your WHY

Why we do things, or set the goals we set, is so very important. It’s the foundation of the success we strive to achieve.

This might require a little self-reflection; a little homework, if you will. And it might get a little uncomfortable being up in your own head for a little while.

A few questions you might want to ask yourself include:

  1. Have I set this goal before? Did I achieve it? Why or why not?
  2. What is going to motivate me to achieve this goal, or to achieve it this time?
  3. What past experiences may be motivating this goal? How are they factoring into me wanting to achieve this specific thing?
  4. What will I gain by achieving my goal? How will I feel about myself?
  5. What will happen if I fail at achieving this goal? How will I feel about myself?

Knowing your motivation can help:

  • Fuel even more desire to achieve your goal
  • Help define your best course of action forward
  • Help you decide that the goal wasn’t your true goal anyway, and provide you with the rationale, and the “okay”, to change course

The why is also crucial to keep in mind when you’re in the midst of wanting to give up. When that end seems so very far away. Remembering your why can keep you going through the hard stuff. When, for instance, you don’t get that big promotion you were preparing for, or when you fall off the fitness wagon for a day or two. Remembering your why gives you the mental space to pick yourself up after a setback.

This approach can also help you break your big, gnarly goals into smaller, more manageable chunks as well.

The old (but admittedly graphic) saying asks the question: how do you eat an elephant? The answer? One bite at a time. Unless you’re able to unhinge your jaw, swallowing that elephant whole isn’t going to happen. Make the pieces of the whole smaller, and you have a better shot at success.

And that’s where a lot of resolutions of goals set on January 1 don’t last more than a few weeks. Because people want immediate results, or instant gratification. It doesn’t happen that way.

Speaking from my own experience, I didn’t run a marathon the day after I went for my first run. Heck, if I’m honest, I didn’t even like my first run. Once running became a habit, a marathon became an idea. Then came the goal: run my first marathon – 42.2kms – the year I turned 42 (and then get the tattoo to commemorate it – which I still need to do a year later). Only THEN did I formalize the plan. Because running for over four hours straight is no joke. I needed to train for it.

But, at the end of the day? A goal without a plan is just a dream.

What dream are you planing to make a reality in 2019? Drop a comment below and let me know if I can help!

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