Updated: Jan 29, 2021
I like to set my goals in September, the week before my birthday. The hype as a newborn is still fresh and the balance of optimism and scepticism perfectly levelled. I also work slow so, I like to start assignments early to gain optimal success.
Goal setting, for me, is a discussion with self. It is also a lengthy process as compared to the quick lists I would write up while the rest of the world was kissing strangers or slumbered in bed on new year’s midnight.
For every goal, a battle plan has to be developed. Otherwise, one is thinking in wishes. For example-
I want a new job vs I want a new job, so I will get my CV in order as I inquire around to see if anyone is hiring or offering internship opportunities.
Less vague, no? Having clear cut goals and a plan backing them is remarkably helpful in moments when you are stuck as you will have tiny steps forward already planned out.
In 2019, I had one goal. Be intentional. Lazy, right? One goal on the list and it is just two words. Why? I was utterly ill. Both mind and body were doing the best they could. I was struggling and by proxy, both were too.
Had I written a 10 list manifesto to get me ready and geared up, it would have caused me stress as I took off time to heal and it would be unrealistic. Which is a thing to keep in mind while the hype of the new year, new you builds up. Know yourself and be realistic.
Now, I have better hold of the reigns and I set goals for my day, my week, my month, three months, five years- even for a visit. Come to think of it, setting goals is basically the premise of intentionality and I guess this is my moment of silence to feel the pride from being able to set goals and achieve them.
Now that I have set myself up on a pedestal, time to break it down.
Is setting goals merely enough? So, we just write lists and boom, magic? Wow. Easy peasy.
Sounds dumb? Well, guess who thought and actually acted that out for the longest time… me. I was stuck in the illusion that if I just wrote it down, my guardian angel would run off like elf in Santa’s workshop and craft everything right into place. I guess I thought myself Santa. Which, I am.
But I am also the elf who has to get the hammer and glue and build all into place. You set goals and YOU go out and do the work. You pick up each goal and examine it and break it down in pieces that when pieced back, create this goal as life.
Before I set the goal to be intentional, my one goal was to lose weight. I was calling up my sister almost daily to whine about how much weight I needed to lose. I was running my mouth and mind and thinking that counted as a workout session.
In true older sister fashion, she shut me up and gave me THE TALK. The one people give you after they are tired of listening to you rant over and over about the same thing.
“Be serious. You cannot lose that much weight in two months cause you did not gain it during that time frame. The amount of time it took you to gain it, might be the amount of time to lose it. You also have to eat more consciously and choose your meals wisely. Get off your bum and move. If you are napping all afternoon after a heavy breakfast every day and having ice cream and fried chicken for dinner at midnight… you are just playing yourself. Start small. Remove foods one by one and replace. Change up habits that do not serve you and replace with healthier habits.”
I would like to seem cool and say that I was thrilled at this information. No. I hang up after a few minutes and sat in my pity party with chocolate and croissants just stewing at how she did not believe in my hopes like I did. Why? I was still daydreaming and hoping wishes and cabbage soup would save me.
I started my inner monologue of excuses and how my mental health was making me gain weight and have no energy. All true but is it that true? To what extent was the truth becoming an excuse. I have a list of excuses not to do things. (You should hear the ones I tell myself to not get to my laptop and write these posts.) But do excuses serve us in any way?
Eventually, I saw her wisdom and started following her advice. I actually went to her for more advice cause of her ability, to be honest with me. In fact, I started only getting advice from people who will call out my stupidity cause I am very short-sighted sometimes. I also am the person who calls out my stupidity first cause child, sometimes, people have other things to do that pat your back and remind you to be serious about your life. You gotta learn to pull your own weight after a while.
So, some guidelines that I use to craft success in goals I set;
Where do you want to be at the end of the cycle?
When you set out on a journey, you need to know where you want to end up. I wanted to lose weight. I did not even know what number I wanted to get down by. That is how vague it was then. Once I set a target, I was able to achieve it.
What is the why?
Often I have set goals with the most fabulously fascinating motivation but let us be fair, even glitter from a distance looks just like gold. Well, at least until the furnace is brought into play. Then, one will combust in exhaustion from the heat and the other, well- refined.
If you know the purpose of the mission you set to embark on, even when it all seems to be going under, you will have something to latch on to.
I wanted to lose weight so my clothes could fit me and I could feel fly again. It was not even about my health. That came as an added perk.
How will you achieve it?
Back to the battle plan. Have steps to tackle what you plan to achieve. I started waking up earlier so I would be in bed before 10 pm to avoid nighttime snacking. I am also bipolar, so I use that to my advantage. When my power surge comes in and I am hyper, I work out even harder. I cut out rice as a staple. I stopped eggs daily. Take out- cut it out. If I wanted a quesadilla, I started buying cheese, the meat and making it myself. That way, I was on my feet moving as I cooked and that was activity in itself. I would also be too tired for that meal and have smaller portions as compared to if I had merely ordered in and sat waiting, stimulating only my hunger.
What are mitigation strategies for moments when all hope and motivation is lost?
Always plan for setbacks. It is not bringing negative energy to your plans. Nope. It is being prepared for anything. It also keeps your mind sharp and ready. When I fail, I fall into a destructive cycle of bashing myself. When I have a mitigation strategy, I am able to challenge myself with the reminder that we can fix this. The momentum does not shut down hard.
I lost 10 kgs in a year. For 4 months, no weight shifted on the scale. I was furious and for a few weeks, I started eating silly for comfort cause I felt like a failure. It did not even occur to me that I could just switch up work out routine or reschedule my meals. With no mitigation strategy, when a lag comes, you will get stuck all over and have no reigns to pull you back in.
That said, Get the ball rolling. On your feet and do.
I wish you thrive and blossom this year. May you achieve all you intend to and work for.
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