Love Self

Goals Really Work, part 2

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On December 29, 2019, I decided it was time to change. A new decade was days away and so was another chance to make my life better. I carefully created new daily goals that were to start on January 1, 2020. Yes, I had that 20/20 vision! Rather than rely on memory, I downloaded an app to track these goals. It turned out to be easy to use. I typed in all my goals and made them either a pass or fail. When the first day came, I checked off the goals periodically throughout the day as I completed them. Before the night ended, I checked to make sure everything was finished on my list.

I continued like this for a few weeks, still burning through the excitement of a new decade. By the end of week three, at the end of a long day, I forgot to check if all my goals were completed. I awoke in the morning refreshed, but when I marked off the goals completed that morning, I saw my first miss. A terrible feeling rushed over me. My first thought was to mark it so I could keep my perfect score. It was the exercise goal that was missed. I started looking for ways I could get out of it. The first justification that came to mind was that I walked around a little bit that day, rather than lie in bed all day. Of course, it wasn’t a purposefully planned, lengthy walk. But it was something, right? Excuses were abandoned when integrity won that first battle and I left it unchecked for the day before. My percentage dropped from 100 to 97%. Anger and resentment boiled inside after ruining my perfect record.

Although I was discouraged, I decided to move past it. Toward the end of the second month, my newfound excitement started to dissipate. However, by that time, I had developed habits that made it easier for me take the necessary actions. Some were so strong, that I no longer needed a reminder. I began to check my goal app less often during the days. It got to the point that I almost never forgot to do an activity. Trouble arose though because I had a vacation scheduled the last week of the month. I tried to work ahead to prepare myself, but there were two days that I missed a particular goal. Nearly all the work was done, and it was only a matter of transitioning it to the final stages. However, since I did not do enough ahead of time, I found it impossible to complete that goal for those two days. I was tempted again to mark them both completed. It was a pass or fail, and indeed I had failed, regardless of what I thought. I chose to leave both days as incomplete. I watched in horror as my score dropped again.

I ended up missing another goal again this month, due to a minor clerical error on my part. I had done everything right to complete the goal but made one mistake. Again, integrity won, and I left it blank. It’s almost comical how we justify to ourselves to make things more favorable for us. I am competitive, especially when it comes to accomplishment. Just like in school after receiving a grade, I had become critical over the score I received from my goals app. It isn’t really a score but a percentage completion rate. Either way, I take it seriously.

It’s only been a brief time, but so far there has been no desire to taper off on goals. I’ve found that writing them down and regularly checking them a couple times a day goes a long way. The checklist in my app has served as motivation numerous times when I did not have the desire to complete a task for the day. When I saw the pattern of success, it pushed me forward. I also found out life doesn’t always meet my schedule. I’ve had to adjust to accommodate life’s changing demands but it’s definitely working. I’ve not been nearly as hard on myself if I miss a task on a given day. Some people pride themselves on their daily completion, without ever missing a day. I did my best to do the same, but I fell short. It hurt so much that I almost cheated myself. But a gentle reminder told me to take the high road and I feel better about that than I ever would have simply by checking another box.

The important thing is to move forward toward a better life. Eighteen weeks in, I am more convinced than ever there is power in setting goals. While I occasionally look, I became less critical about the percentages and focused more on what I was achieving. After months of doing it, I had a proven track record. When I recently looked back over what I had accomplished, I was suddenly amazed. I see results and like what I see. My efforts have been paying off. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to share my personal experience with you. If you’ve had an experience with setting goals that you’d like to share, I’d like to hear about it. I know a better life is out there for you too!

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