When I look back at the goals I’ve achieved, the ones I’ve almost achieved and the ones that continue to sit there, staring me in the face, day after day after day I’ve started to come to a strong realization about goal setting.
It’s not about breaking the goal down into smaller parts to make it easier to achieve or putting a deadline on when to achieve it; it’s something much smaller, much simpler and yes, so obvious – it’s about the routine.
Take a moment and look back on some of the goals you tried to achieve over the last 3 months?
Why did you fail?
Were your goals too vague?
Did you not have the proper level of support from your friend to achieve it?
Was it because you didn’t have the time to achieve it?
Why did you not have the proper amount of time to achieve it?
Did you start out and set some unrealistic expectations of yourself that were hard to mingle into the rest of your life once you started?
Did you start but not really commit to achieving it?
Were you never able to find the time to work on it?
I’ve been struggling with achieving some of my own goals lately (the large ones). When I looked back and compared to the goals I had achieved during the same time period, I started to see a pattern emerge.
I had a Routine.
For the goalsI achieved, I had a routine that I kept to whether it was every day or every other day and for the ones that I didn’t, I had a sheet with some bullet points on it that I tried to cross out week after week but was never able to do so – no matter how hard I tried.
If we now understand the importance of setting a routine in relation to our goal achievement what do we need to consider in setting a proper routine that will enable us to succeed?
Establish the Routine at the same time as your Goal
Dreaming about achieving “something” is the path to creating a Goal, creating a routine is the road to the execution of that goal. If you are committed and serious about creating and achieving your goal – build a routine for when you are going to work on it while you are dreaming (yes dreaming) it up.
Don’t wait, don’t put it off, don’t put it on your TODO list – do it now – set the tone for your achievement now.
If you are worried about skipping out on your new routine – write it down, put a reminder in your phone – whatever works for you. The most important part in creating a routine are the triggers that drive us to take action – so these little cues are critical to your success.
For instance, if you are consistently finished working at the end of the day at x time, set that event for the trigger for your routine. Instead of watching TV, spend 30 minutes on achieving your goal, set the timer, block everything out, make it happen.
The routine needs to fit into your schedule
Now that you have created the routine – is it realistic, is it achievable?
In any routine, this is the first barrier to goal achievement.
If you are working 10-hour days, then having to come home and get your kids off to activities, scheduling 4 hours of work to happen on a daily basis isn’t going to work for you. After 2 days you will stop from sheer exhaustion and frustration.
We are all busy; we are all trying to grow and develop and our goals are outside of the norm of what everyone else is trying to do.
This is exactly why it is so imperative that you set your goals to fit into your schedule and not make them totally unrealistic to achieve. If you need to start earlier in the day to make it happen, do that; maybe do an extra hour every other night to get started before going full tilt all the time.
Make it realistic, make it possible, make it doable. Doing 8 minutes of pushups every morning, every day will add up to 56 minutes of pushups you weren’t doing the week before – that is achievement.
The goal is not to achieve it as fast as possible, but to make progress towards it.
Remove distractions from your routine
One of the greatest barriers to resistance with routines are the distractions that surround us. I stayed up too late, so now I’m tired in the morning. I didn’t put out my clothes the night before so now I don’t want to go jogging.
Case in point: I play hockey at 7am once a week; to get there (and be alert) I need to get up at 6am. To go, I need my work bag ready for the day; I need my hockey bag and all my gear, towel, etc in it. I need my stick and water bottle and then I can go.
All in all, I need to everything together so I’m not stumbling around in the dark in the morning.
The night before, I put it all in my car—I have that battle with myself the night before. So when I wake up in the morning, all I need to do is look down at my feet, put on the clothes I’ve laid out, put on a jacket, eat and get in the car.
My success rate when I do this is incredibly higher because I had the battle with myself the night before, not the morning of, not in the heat of the moment where other temptations were high. In that instance, I am committed.
And on the days when I don’t do this, my success is incredibly lower – the excuses rise up. Even if I am feeling sick, I will still go if everything was laid out the night before.
Part of it is embarrassment. If I sleep in and then wake up, get into my car and start the drive to work what is there waiting for me?
My equipment – that whole ride to work is just me and my equipment, staring at me, laughing at me, making me feel like a fool for not getting up and hitting that goal.
In the case where you think it is going to take five hours a week to achieve your goal – set 5 hours aside to work on that goal so you are there, focused and working on it. If you need to have a quiet space to work in or have your favourite mug with you – make it happen.
Achievement of our goals are driven by execution and our execution is driven by the creation of realistic, focused, deliberate routines that are free from distractions, excuses and obstacles and work within our schedules to achieve them.
Think about goals you have right now at work or in your personal life?
Why is that project still not finished?
Why have you not finished the siding on the house?
Why have you not started your new floor?
You might think it’s your commitment or your goal being too lofty, but perhaps it really that you never created a routine that you could really commit to to drive toward its completion.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com