Five Tested Strategies To Achieve Goals
She said, “I’m trying to lose weight.” But her actions are off and on. She’s trying, but what really happens?
Trying is the verb we use to justify our lack of action. Our excuse. Then we struggle with the cognitive dissonance of wanting to do something and feeling like we can’t.
Someone trying to lose weight is trying to do things like:
- exercise in the mornings
- drink more water
- pack a lunch for work
- get to bed earlier
- stop snacking
But she does it haphazardly, if at all. She has a lot of reasons why she’s not doing it.
Here’s the thing. If I tell myself I’m trying but never make progress, I feel like crap. I reinforce that I can’t do it.
This “someone” is a picture of hundreds of people I’ve coached and talked with over 20+ years. I’m also in that picture. But I’ve discovered how not to let my excuses sidetrack me from what’s most important.
Trust me, it’s possible to go from trying to doing. Here are five powerful strategies I use to follow through on what I really want:
On a 1(low)-10(high) scale, how meaningful is what you’re trying to do? If it’s not at least an 8 consider two options: 1) find reasons to increase the importance (your reasons, not your mom’s or partner’s) or 2) focus your attention on something else that’s more important. Chances are you’re “trying” in that area, too. I’ve set goals that I later decided I wasn’t that interested in. It felt great to stop trying!
When we think about our plans, they’re reasonable. But in the moment, we feel like doing something else. In fact, we’re used to doing something else. Plan for it to be hard. And remind yourself of past hard things you’ve done. Feel free to borrow a mantra many of my clients use: “This is hard and I can do hard things.” Repeat it. Over and over.
Decide ahead of time
You know your partner offers you ice cream after dinner. They're so sweet that way. It’s not a surprise. Decide: will you have ice cream? If so, how much? Be specific. If not, what will you say when they offer? How will you handle the urge to eat ice cream and not eat it? Practice it mentally beforehand. It will still be hard, but practice helps. And you can do hard things!
Don’t try to change too many things at once. If you want to stop overeating, drink less wine and start exercising, choose one. Then apply all you’ve got to that one thing. Build up integrity with yourself for follow-through. Then choose another. Cool thing is, clients often see positive changes in one area leading to others.
Be flexible with your desired outcomes
If you emotionally invest in a timeline, you can get all twisted up. Like losing weight by a certain date or for an event. Set the date and kick into gear. Believe you’ll succeed. But if at that time you haven’t reached it, so what? You can keep doing what you know will get you there or stop and revert back. What will it be? (Hint: KEEP GOING)
Losing weight is hard enough without trying. That doesn’t mean you want to go on and on about how hard it is. That makes it harder! Simply notice and respond.
Accomplishing anything important requires we dig deep and become an even better version of ourselves. Trying to lose weight is no different. Think of the skills you will acquire to reach your goals? Think of who you are when you follow through and keep your commitments to yourself.
How amazing will that feel?