January 1st is traditionally the time we set goals.
January 3rd is traditionally the time we start to give up on them.
You deserve better than that. You are a rock star! I want you to shine your light and dazzle in 2020. So what to do?
First, recognize that we actually blow it right off the bat. We set ourselves up to fail by calling our annual goals “resolutions.”
Goals are something you clearly work towards; the word itself suggests athletes, a finish line. Resolutions, on the other hand, suggest willpower. In this mindset, it’s our resolve alone that gets us want we want.
Pro tip: Never depend solely on resolve. Willpower is finite and insanely unreliable.
Here’s what does work: set a goal, figure out why it matters to you, and build in railings that keep you on track.
Simple, but not easy.
It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight,” or even “I want to lose weight so I can fit into my favorite pair of jeans.” You’re not a dope, your Inner Self knows darn well you can always buy new jeans. But if you really dig in and imagine what your life would be like if you lost 40 pounds, what problems would vanish and what new goodies would come your way — well, that’s the vision that will see you through the tough times. For instance:
Resolution: I want to lose weight.
Personal Meaning: What would it feel like to lose a good amount of weight? What would that offer me? What problems would it take care of? Well, carrying around an extra 40 pounds is physically draining. If I lost 40 pounds, I’d have more energy and have more fun with my family. It’s also emotionally difficult to go shopping for clothes, and it’s harder to find nice things in my size. Losing 40 pounds would make me feel lighter emotionally, not just in terms of physical weight. Plus diabetes runs in my family; losing 40 pounds would lessen my risk and perhaps add not just more years, but more healthy years to my life.
Now we have hit upon something: Living a better, longer, and more fun life. That’s a juicy goal. That’s a vision you can recommit to when the going gets tough. The more you can connect to why you personally want your goal — what positives getting it will give you, and what negatives it will make go away — the more likely you are to make decisions in the moment that will lead you to success.
The best goals are both Transformative and Specific. Wanting to live a longer, healthier life — that is transformative. Losing 40 pounds is specific. We know when we’ve succeeded. Wanting to spend time with your children and build a wonderful relationship with them while they’re young is transformative. Landing a job with flexible hours and work-from-home opportunities is specific.
“But Laura,” you may say, “what does this have to do with pitching?”
Apart from the fact that you might have to enroll others in your goal (be it saving money, exercising more, or launching a new side business), the main person you will have to enroll and re-enroll every day is YOURSELF. You are your primary stakeholder; you’ll need to pitch yourself on the importance of what you’re doing all the time, over and over again. This is one of the key guiderails you’ll need to have in place to keep yourself on track.
Here’s an example: you want to save money by packing lunch instead of eating out. It’s great in the abstract, but when it comes time to pack your lunch, that little voice in your head is going to be relentless. You’re tired, you’re late, and by golly, you deserve lunch out.
“I am packing my lunch today,” you tell that voice, “because my goal for 2020 is to save enough money for a down payment on a house. What I really deserve is that sense of stability and ownership that I never had as a Navy brat. That burger and fries is not worth that feeling of peace that I am finally home.”
That is a pitch that will change your life.
Interested in some of the resources I’ve been using to keep my own goals on track? Check them out here.