Today I would like to revisit a topic that we have discussed several times over the past few years – the topic of goal setting.
A few weeks ago a client was lamenting on the multiyear long challenge he has faced in trying to get his weight down to what he called a “manageable number.”
The number he mentioned to me – the poundage he is hoping to shed – is 60. He has been trying to achieve his goal of losing 60 pounds “since the day I was born.”
Like so many others he has tried “everything” and nothing seems to work. The more he focuses his attention on the number 60 the more elusive it seems to become.
And he was frustrated beyond description.
I understand completely why he has been struggling so hard and for so long.
When we set a goal – when we answer the question “what do I want?” – we are typically addressing what we say we want – what we think we want – but really all we are doing is identifying what we believe is necessary to get us to where we want to be.
And it is where we want to be that we need to identify and focus on.
We call this the Prize and the prize is what we believe reaching our goal will do for us.
In other words, when my friend says he wants to lose 60 pounds the truth is that’s not what he wants at all. What he wants is what he believes at the present time losing 60 pounds will do for him. It’s the old WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
I asked him to answer the question of what he believed losing 60 pounds would mean to him and he began to passionately talk about feeling self-confident, proud and attractive, lowering of his excessively high blood pressure and regaining misplaced health. He glowingly told me “it would make my coat shine.”
The passion-inspiring realization my friend came to is central to the pursuit of successful goal achievement.
You see, losing 60 pounds is more daunting than inspiring. Losing 60 pounds is a gigantic and seemingly formidable, long, long, long term ordeal. It’s hard to get excited about losing 60 pounds and it’s even harder to stay motivated during the long journey to get there.
But the prize? Well, that’s a whole other story.
The prize – the very thing that we believe losing those 60 pounds will do for us – now, that is exceedingly inspiring.
The likelihood of us staying on track, sticking to the program, consistently and repeatedly doing those things that we know we need to do – or not do – in order to reach that goal of 60 pounds, will come only when we are truly clear on what our prize will be and when we can clearly answer this question: How important is to win the prize?
How badly do we want it?
Once we understand the prize, and once we’ve made attaining the prize so important to us that nothing will stand in our way, then there is no force on this planet powerful enough to prevent us from achieving our goal.
We need to place new perspective around what a goal really is. The goal is simply the means of transporting us to our prize. And when we reach that conclusion, the goal takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes nothing more than the driver that will deliver us to the prize we so desire.
Once we have discovered our prize we have an even more important task. We need to determine, and then measure, our reason for wanting the prize.
Nice To Have ——————————————— Must Have
Where on the above continuum will you place your reason for wanting the prize?
This is a defining, “moment of truth” question. This is a measure of our motivation and commitment and we must be scrupulously honest in answering it.
If your answer is close to the “Nice to Have” then your commitment to “staying the course” and reaching your goal is questionable at best.
On the other hand, if your answer is “Must Have” you will move heaven and earth to get there.
My friend called me yesterday. He was excited. Since last we talked he was down 14 pounds and while he knows that 14 is a long way from 60 his excitement was not borne by the fact THAT he had lost the weight, it was driven by HOW he had lost the weight.
He told me that every time he was about to consume any food item he would ask himself whether that particular item would move him closer to his day of winning the prize or further away from that strongly-desired day.
If the answer was that the food item would take him away from the direction in which his prize lay he took a moment to ponder how miserable his life has been without the prize.
Every time he did that said “NO” to eating that food and selected instead something that moved him towards where he wanted to be.
He told me that he was no longer focused on losing 60 pounds because that was just the way by which he would reach is prize. His consumption decisions were based on directionality. Moving towards – or away from – his prize.
And for the first time “since he was born” overcoming temptation was no longer a challenge but a reward. It served not as a barrier but as a compass.
So the next time you decide to make some changes in your life, focus first on your prize and be absolutely honest in positioning its importance it on the continuum.
If your prize is unconditionally, irrefutably and indisputably a “Must Have” I can assure you reaching that goal will be a cinch.
Having noted how excited my friend was when he called yesterday, I can’t wait to hear what his tone will be like when he calls to brag about having accomplished his goal.
Till we read again.
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