The single most important question you need to ask yourself to achieve your goals
At the risk of sounding like click bait (She asked herself one question. You won't believe what happens next!), what I am about to share with you has the potential to change your life. It sounds like hyperbole but it's true.
We all have goals* - or at least wishes, which are goals without a plan. Since I'm generally going to focus on wellness in this blog let's think about this in terms of weight loss. At one point or another almost all of us has put "lose weight" or "get fit" on our To Do list. And yet somehow it doesn't get Ta Done. Why is that?
Usually, when we think about goals we think about what we have to do. Even if we're taking something away, like alcohol or chocolate (Note: I don't advocate cutting anything out of your life entirely), we're still thinking about what we have to do to make that happen. But what if we thought about what we're not doing?
Here's what you really need to ask yourself: What am I not willing to do to reach my goal?
It may be easier to frame this question in terms of the past - i.e. What were you not willing to do to reach your goal the last time you tried? For example, for me, a big reason I've had trouble losing weight in the past was that I didn't want to cook. Or plan ahead. Or chop anything - especially vegetables. I still don't. I like veggies but they never seemed to make it from the crisper onto my plate (or, let's be honest, the store into my house). I've joined CSAs, I tried The Fresh 20 (they send you a weekly grocery list and easy healthy recipes weekly), I've bought spices and simmer sauces and a shelf worth of vegetarian cookbooks. And yet, not a lot of veggies got eaten. (I was even a vegetarian for a year or two but I mostly just ate bread and cheese. Tasty, but living on pizza, quesadillas and grilled cheese is not the best path to health and wellness. But I digress...)
Eventually I realized that one of the reasons I wasn't successful was my disinterest in chopping vegetables. Once I'd recognized that, I determined that I should just go ahead and buy the pre-chopped items available at the store, both fresh and frozen, even though they might be a little more expensive. I'm pretty frugal so "pay extra for convenience" was another thing I wasn't initially willing to do. It may sound ridiculous that I had to have an epiphany of sorts to finally eat my veggies, but it's true. Sometimes it is as simple as changing one little thing that is the difference between success and failure. I'd wager that there is something similarly simple that is stopping you from getting what you want as well. You just have to take some time to recognize it.
Here is a sampling of some things that could stop a person from being successful at weight loss:
I'm not willing to...
- ...give up my daily X habit.
- ...eat out less.
- ...cut back on X.
- ...invest in a gym membership.
- ...invest in the right tools (sneakers, workout gear, etc...).
- ...rearrange my schedule to fit in a class.
- ...get up early to work out.
- ...plan my meals ahead.
- ...drive to the gym/park/grocery store
Once you've figured out your own personal "anti-goal" you can start to problem solve. Figure out what you want then ask yourself, "what have I not been willing to do to get this done?" The answer to that is going to be the most important obstacle you need to tackle. The same principle works on all other goals. Want to write a novel? Were you willing to sit down for an hour a day to work on it? Do you have the supplies you need? Want to clean out your garage? Were you willing to set aside time to actually do it? Did you investigate where to get rid of things?
What is stopping you? What has stopped you in the past? Plan for failure and you just might succeed.
*See my article on Goal Setting to figure out what yours are.