If I could sum up my attempts at goal setting – or more specifically, following through on goals – it’d go something like, “she planned a lot… followed through for a day, then quit!”
I STINK, stink!, at following through on my goals.
How often have you made a promise to yourself about changing a behavior or starting a new habit, and then didn’t follow through?
You set a goal of working out 3x a week / drinking more water / going on Facebook Live once week. And then, nothing. You don’t follow through at alllll.
I know I’ve been there.
During my accidental mini business break, I wasn’t just freaking out over the fact that I wasn’t showing up. I was also spinning in my own head about why I wasn’t doing anything – when I WANTED to be doing something.
It was pure confusion. How could I want something so badly, yet struggle to just show up and do it?
And as one day turned to the next, I felt worse and worse about not showing up.
Yet, the more I made a plan for my next steps, the more I resisted.
Like I literally had a complete game plan of blog content to write, the Facebook Lives I wanted to do, Instagram ideas, and more.
And I STILL resisted… and then that turned into straight up running the other direction thinking maybe I’ll ditch the whole thing! I don’t want this anyway! (lies. all crazy lies.)
Worse yet, there’s times when you meet some goals, but completely ignore another.
Have you ever wondered why you’ll easily be on time when meeting a friend for a workout class; but if you tell yourself you’ll start working out at 9am, you find yourself still wandering around your kitchen pretending to clean?
Well, take a seat my friend!
If you’ve ever struggled with that question of “why can’t I follow through on anything (a diet, a new marketing plan, not snoozing your alarm)?
Or why can I follow through on this, but not *that*?” get ready for your mind to go “bahhhhhhmmmaaakdkdk!”
Because I found some legit brand new information (to me) on how we all meet or fail to meet expectations.
When asking yourself, ‘Why can’t I follow through on anything?’, consider these two ideas:
1 | The difference between motivation and follow through
2 | Your personality determines how you react to expectations (both inner + outer)
1 | MOTIVATION vs. FOLLOW THROUGH:
I’ve liked this concept for awhile now – it’s simple, to the point, and let’s me put up the little life blinders I sometimes need in order to
not freak out move my life forward.
The idea is that we think our problem is a lack of motivation.
We sit down and list why we want something. We’ll learn more about it or imagine how our life will be after we accomplish it. Or we meticulously plan out how we’ll do it to try and get super excited about it <<< this is me.
And then we don’t do anything.
(sound familiar? this was me every day for like 4 weeks. planning. getting serious about what I wanted. talking it out to anyone who would listen. then feeling like absolute shit that I STILL didn’t know what to or wouldn’t just “rip the bandaid” so to speak and do it)
But the problem is that every time we try to motivate ourselves, we’re actually making it worse and amplifying our feelings of guilt and stress. We all know the phrase “If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”
Which when you’re sitting there wanting it really badly, yet being unable to see how to “make it happen” you quickly begin to feel like a pile of 💩 wrapped up in another pile, because now you’re sitting there going “well, I guess I don’t really want it badly enough”
(And we all know that’s f’n BS)
The thing is – motivation isn’t our problem! We’re trying to jazz ourselves up for something we’re actually already motivated by… otherwise why spend all that time and energy thinking about it?
The trick here is to not let your mind interfere.
Motivation is in the mind; follow-through is in the practice. Motivation is conceptual; follow-through is practical.
ACTION is the solution to a lack of follow through.
Now I know what you’re thinking, no kiddddding. Action is literally me following through.
And to that I’d say yes… but also no.
The focus here is almost on blind action-taking.
Don’t think, just do. As if on auto pilot… then let that momentum carry you through the bigger tasks.
If you need, start with the smallest thing you can commit to. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
“Our words have power, but our actions shape our lives.”
– Rachel Hollis in Girl, Wash Your Face
Three Tips to Help You Keep Commitments
Tip #1 | Create a Foolproof Environment
For me, this means when I get out of bed to walk the dog, I throw on my workout clothes with the same mindless action that I brush my teeth.
You don’t think about it – you just do it.
Once those clothes are on, the act of working out when we get home just kinda happens next because I’m ready and I have a plan already laid out…
Tip #2 | Make it Intentional, but Simple
Again, no thinking. I keep my BodyBoss plan open to my next workout. No time to let your mind hem and haw over what to do and then quit. It’s there in front of you, just start.
Tip #3 | Use my so-called “Ladder Method”
Position things you want to do (but struggle following through on), just before things you do on auto pilot or without a problem already.
As an example, I really wanted to start hitting my 10,000 steps a day (dusted my Fitbit off!) and drink more water. So I created a really simple Ladder Method that worked around my lunch break.
Ya see, I REALLY like lunch. Never miss it. Don’t have an issue following through on lunch every day.
So at first, I told myself that I couldn’t get my lunch until I finished the water in my tumbler.
If hungry > slam water > go eat (win-win)
Then I added in the walking component. The goal was simple + specific — walk an additional 2,000 steps before I can pick up lunch.
And this worked because I physically have to get my butt up to get my lunch anyway… so turning my brain into mushy “2,000 step autopilot action” mindlessly became a new good habit!
So now my ladder looked like this:
part 1: Felt hungry > can’t get up until finish water > finish water (yay – 1st ladder rung)
part 2: Get up from my desk! > can’t get lunch until walk 2,000 steps > hit 2,000 extra steps (2nd ladder rung) > eat lunch (top of ladder!)
After a few days of successfully doing that, I decided to get extra crazy and add another rung.
Now once I want to eat lunch, I slam the rest of my water, in order to buy my lunch (will figure out meal prep another day lol) I have to use the stairwell, so now as soon as I open that door I just start walking UP the stairs.
All 10 flights.
Hunger hits > finish water > walk to stairwell > walk up 10 flights > walk down and just keep walking > walk extra 2,000 steps > feel accomplished AF > go buy lunch! > YUM.
Each initial action happens almost on autopilot.
This works for me because each action is moving up towards what I ultimately want – LUNCH! And they build momentum on each other and next thing you know I’m crushing stairs two at a time like a boss.
Now here’s the other kicker…
You have a personality trait that’s ingrained in you.
It’s why some people have no problem setting and sticking to goals.
And why others struggle to follow through unless they set up an accountability partner.
Or why accountability partners don’t work or maybe even downright turn other people off from reaching their goals.
This was my big brain explosion.
I actually laughed out loud at certain parts of my tendency because they were so completely dead on.
Suddenly I realized why most traditional goal setting tips left me spinning my planning wheels or straight up ignoring what I JUST SAID I WANTED like a crazy person.
The idea here is that a huge part of our personality is how we respond to expectations – both inner and outer.
She identified four tendencies and sums them up as follows:
- The Upholder – meets outer + inner, “Discipline is my freedom”
- The Questioner – resists outer, meets inner, “I’ll comply-if you convince me why”
- The Obliger – meets outer, resists inner, You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me”
- The Rebel – resists outer + inner, “You can’t make me, and neither can I”
If we were having a drink together right now, I’d be spilling everything on this book – my new fun party trick is to try and size people up and guess which of the four they are. (ps. DON’T do that, at least not outloud… most people hate that lol)
I find it beyond enlightening and helpful to realize just why I’m so damn incapable of meeting other’s expectation (or my own! how fun).
AND I was also able to put the findings and suggestions to real use – I quit my Diet Coke habit. Finally! Easily!
(don’t worry, I switched to a tiny iced coffee for a caffeine boost. I’m not supernatural.)
In just one day after putting her suggestions to use, I said I’m not a Diet Coke drinker and boom, that was that.
And that worked for me because I was playing against my exact tendency and how I need to position things to make or break my expectations.
What tips have helped you push past obstacles and reach your goals?