13. Goals Made Easier

Good morning and welcome to your thirteenth meditation. When you set a goal how do you do it? Do you just tell yourself privately that you are going to do something? Do you write it down? Do you tell a friend in order to have someone to whom you’re accountable? Do you develop a timeline and a plan for carrying it out? Unsurprisingly, the more effort you put into conceiving the “how” of your goal the more likely you will be to achieve it. For some of us, all that planning and forethought can seem daunting and intimidating, sometimes so much so that we abandon our goal before we have even started pursuing it. But there’s good news! Arguably the most important part of seeing a goal through to the end requires very little forethought and planning, and it’s really just too simple to be daunting. So what is this magical goal-maker? It is regularity. Just think, if you want to learn Spanish that goal is going to seem abstract and therefore unattainable until you simply start practising Spanish every day. Your goal shifts from the amorphous “I want to learn Spanish” to the very concrete “I have to practise my Spanish today”. Rather than being a big scary life goal, it has become just another item on your daily checklist. And as you know, if you do something every day for long enough it becomes a habit and you come to miss it if it’s not there. But it’s not even necessary to think that far down the line. Whatever the activity is, just go ahead and insert it into your daily or weekly routine as the case may be and don’t worry too much about the outcome. In fact, you can even stop thinking about it as a goal at all, and just focus on each day, one at a time, unconcerned with how quickly or slowly you’re progressing or how far along you’ll be by a given date, but just relishing in the daily feeling of fulfilment and accomplishment that it brings you. This way of thinking will also help you to live more in the moment, enjoy whatever it is you are doing more, and so be happier generally.Now, a couple tips for getting started that you may have heard before, but that bear repeating. Start small. Most of us can’t imagine opening a two hour window in our daily routine for some new activity, so don’t try it. Better to have short, focussed sessions, where you are totally engaged for the duration, even if that duration is just five minutes. Next tip: have a specific time in the day that you dedicate to this new skill. If setting a specific time each day seems too rigid to you then connect your new activity with another activity that is already part of your daily routine. For example, “I practise knitting on my lunch break”, or “I read history after brushing my teeth each night”, or “I work out after breakfast”. This way habitual activities can serve as organic reminders to you to do your new activity and also ensures that you have a space carved out in the day to do them. Remember that however long term your goals are, it is daily practice that allows you to realize them. So whatever your goal may be, you can forget it! Just focus on the activity, make it a habit, and enjoy it! Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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