Elements of Your Goals to Consider

Atomic Habits or Big Life-Affirming Goals?  Why not both?

A couple of different approaches have proven effective in achieving goals, and motivation is essential to all of them.  One approach is the Tiny Little Habits approach, popularized in the “Atomic Habits” book.  This method involves adding one little tiny habit at a time.  

Over time, you will achieve some pretty substantial differences in your life.  The other way is to choose a significant goal and invest a major effort towards your new goal, the Big Hairy Life Challenge approach.  This is the approach sometimes called transformation.  At its extreme is the conversion experience.

The first is more modest and perhaps more certain but requires patience and a visceral understanding of the compounding effect.  The weakness or challenge is that progress is incremental, and motivation can run out before achieving the desired change.

The second is more dramatic, can produce transformative changes, and is a much more challenging commitment.  A Big Hairy Life Affirming Goal usually includes a substantial learning curve and a substantial new habituation curve – many little things must change quickly to succeed.  As a result, the best way to get there for the long term is to normalize this new behavior as soon as you can.

Goals – Your Approach and How to Choose

The way to do that is to make a substantial investment of resources.  This starts by carefully choosing your goal and creating the context to place it in your life.  Choosing carefully includes identifying the other conditions you need to arrange in your life to smooth your path.  

Done well, achieving your goal becomes the natural result of living your daily life.  You can find an initial outline of choosing a goal in the wonderful NLP process called the Well-Formed Outcome.  It is explained in detail in my book “NLP: The Essential Guide” in Chapter Two.  You can also sign up for my online goals course, where we will go into this in some detail.

Having carefully chosen a really big goal, you will find that really big goals require really big changes and big action.  When I decided at 60-something to get really serious about restoring and improving my physical strength, naturally, the first step for me was the Well-Formed Outcome.

That meant I thoroughly imagined in detail having that as part of my life and identifying the new resources I would need to create to make it fit as efficiently and smoothly as possible.  The result chosen was a weightlifting program because it met most of my criteria, including sufficiently frequent evidence of results.

Previously, I’d worked out with machines at the gym and various other types of fitness, including yoga and hiking.  I loved them, but they did not provide specific, measurable results frequently enough to keep me motivated.  

The weightlifting program I chose, “Starting Strength,” is straightforward, starting with three lifts done thrice weekly.  Results were measurable and trackable, and I could see incremental success from week to week.

I could fit this program into my schedule.  The significant investment for me, and what got me fully committed, stemmed from a desire to do it right to start with.  For instance, getting some coaching to begin with the correct form beats the heck out of trying to fix it later.  

So I invested what for me was a substantial sum of money, about 1/3 of a month’s income, to pay a coach in advance for six weeks of coaching.  Then, I bought the equipment necessary to do my workouts at home.  

Spending this much on myself was a big, hairy challenge by itself.  That combination is a powerful motivator and left me with no excuses for missing a workout.

What I had done was set up two powerful long-term motivators for myself.  I was committed to people, the trainer, and myself and had committed a large sum of non-refundable resources of my time and money.  These criteria emerged from imagining how to use my values to serve my outcome.

Making Goals Work for You

What will work for you?  That’s where you need to do your work to choose your goals wisely and determine the elements that will make them compelling and enjoyable.

Long-term follow-up?  It’s now some seven years later and I still use my weights regularly.  Yes, there have been frequent interruptions due to travel, illness, and the vicissitudes of life.  This is a given.

What I found worked in the face of that was to stop harassing myself for the absences and simply get present with my program again.  This is also where the simplicity of lifting works in my favor.  

The movements were natural once I had learned proper form and practiced consistently for a few months.  And even when I was off for a longer time, I didn’t have to start at zero.  A good portion of my gains were retained.

Oh, and having found out how that worked, a year or so later, using the same motivational criteria, I added a daily 6 am yoga class.  That made some profoundly expanding changes in the life of this perennial late-night animal.  

Yes, a guy who rarely closed his eyes before 11 at night was under the covers by 9, up at 5, and at class by 6.  For 3.5 years straight, until COVID closed us down.

Now, having a nice variety of fitness practices, I vary them and mostly keep moving.

If you want to learn more about these approaches to a more fulfilling life, you could do a lot worse than picking up my book “NLP: The Essential Guide” or joining my online goals course where we detail this.

Naturally, you can find out a lot about this in great detail in my goals course  and in my book.  They are especially suited to the Tiny Little Habits approach.  

On the other hand, If you like the Big Hairy Life Affirming Goal approach, sign up for the Hack Your Brain NLP Practitioner course.  

It is both expensive and a terrific bargain!  How?  The online course you can get for a little more than 500 bucks right now was selling 30 years ago for the equivalent of $5000 today!

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