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Declaring the goal is a goal in itself

There are lots of statistics around goal setting, why writing them down is beneficial and telling people makes you more likely to stick to them.

Death by statistics…

I love a good statistic but getting overwhelmed by numbers doesn’t really help anyone, practically speaking.

I’ll give you 2 that I think are useful-

  1. You are 42% more likely to achieve a written goal when you write it down.

That is quite a significant number. By writing it down you activate different areas of the brain, the amygdala and the frontal lobe. The amygdala is the area working around emotions (so how important the goal is for you) and the frontal lobe area has lots of components around problem solving, digesting the goal itself and identifying it. They both work together to move you forward. If it isn’t emotionally important you won’t have the drive and if you have the drive but don’t care about the outcome, why bother?

  1. You are 62% more likely to success if you share your goal with friends and family. This is the part I struggled with the most (and still do!) Taking that leap from holding yourself accountable to having other people hold you accountable and watching you might as well be long jumping over the Grand Canyon!

There are arguments for and against sharing goals with other people and I think both arguments have merit and have their place at certain points. It isn’t necessary to share everything with everyone and I will follow this up with a second post on why sharing goals isn’t always best but for now, lets press on with the topic in hand….

There are 3 main areas, I believe, that hold us back from declaring goals.

Fear of failure

I don’t care how brave you are or how ‘ready’ you feel to take on a challenge, we are built to pull back when a daunting task is ahead of us. It is there as protection, fight or flight and all that jazz. The thing about sharing a specific outcome is that we have created the idea that the only option is pass or failure. If you tell someone you are going to climb Mount Everest, you will either succeed or you won’t. It doesn’t take into account any twists and turns along the way or a change in direction. We usually think this makes us look like we have failed but don’t want to admit it which is NOT usually the case.

Overwhelmed by the goal itself

I hold my hand up at being completely guilty of this. One of my big goals is to trek the Himalayas, I didn’t really tell anyone because it was a big dream and I had no possible plan of attack. About 3 years after this seed was planted, I had made approximately 0% progress and still had no plan so I decided to break it down into smaller, less intimidating, goals. For example, I know at the moment I can work on my cardiovascular fitness and plan a trek in the UK for this year to get some practice in.

Remember when you were at school and you were told to ‘break it down into bite size chunks’… well here you go!

I still tell people my big goal but I also follow it up with my broken-down goals so that I am held accountable for the steps along the way without as much pressure.

Changing your goal

I am a big fan of changing, evolving and upgrading goals as we grow and learn. It shows us that what we thought was a big achievement can be outdone with an even bigger one. We are much more capable than we think!

What do we think happens when we share a goal of running a marathon and then, half way through the training process, decide we actually want to go into cross fit instead and compete? Have you ever worried that your friends will think you can’t do it and swapped out for an ‘easier’ challenge?

To be honest, this is very unlikely (and if your circle does think this way, I would get a new circle) but it is kind of irrelevant. If it’s what we are thinking in our heads, it will definitely create a hurdle and we all know that our inner dialogue sparks fear to ‘protect us’.

How do we move past this fear? To begin with, remember that the fear is there to protect you. Your body is doing what it thinks is best for you. It isn’t always correct, and can hold us back, but being understanding and acknowledging of its purpose will help you move past it.

Break it down

Make strong but realistic, specific goals. A goal that is too easy isn’t even a goal, but a goal that is almost impossible is just as pointless. I’m not saying don’t aim high, you are far more capable than you think you are. When setting a goal, you want it to scare, excite and energise you so that when you tell your friends you grin from ear to ear! Its that buzz when you talk about it that keeps you motivated.

Chunk the big goal down into smaller ones. This is where deadlines come into play. I am going to trek the Himalayas but this year im going to complete the 3 peaks challenge. Be as specific as you can with your dates and times and get your circle to hold you accountable for these milestones.

If you don’t feel ready to jump into sharing your goals out loud or with friends, don’t worry. Start with 1 breakdown milestone. The sense of achievement will help push you through the fear. I only started telling people about my goal AFTER I broke it down into smaller chunks.

Be realistic, honest and hard on yourself. Are you really connected to the goal? If not, start there. If you are, how would you feel if you didn’t achieve it? Often the fear of not achieving something overrides the fear of setting the goal.

Remember that there is no such thing as failure, only progress, learning experiences and growth exercises. When Edison was creating the lightbulb, he is quoted as saying-

‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

Fear is all in the mind. Our minds create it to protect us from failure but it also holds us back from success.

Lucy sign off

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