When we set new goals, we are usually very determined – we’re motivated and everything seems possible and doable because we want it so much.
So, of course, by thinking that our life is going to be so much better when we make our dreams come true, we quickly start searching for different ways to achieve this whilst all the time thinking ‘the sooner I get there, the better’.
But this kind of goal-setting is not going to bring us long term success which means we have to rethink our strategy.
Let’s break it down – let’s say you want to lose some weight which is one of the most common goals. In your mind’s eye, you have already imagined what your life is going to look like and how amazing you are going to feel so you start looking for different ways that will help you get there – various diets, training schedules, detoxes etc.
The idea of achieving something you so desperately want quickly seems exciting and life-changing – you just can’t wait to get there.
But if you are too focused on your goal and not on the route you want to take, there is a high chance that you’ll pick something based on speed instead of looking at other criteria such as enjoyment, learning and long term success.
Then you’ll realise with time, that you are not enjoying the journey you set off on and it’s actually the opposite – you’re waiting for the whole thing to be over so that you can get the results that you want and finally relax.
This is why it’s so important to shift the focus from our goals to our journey – how we want to achieve something is as important as the goal itself because by picking the wrong path there is a high chance we won’t achieve what we wanted to.
And even if we do reach some of our goals – if we don’t enjoy the process or we find it stressful and hard then there is a high possibility we’re going to fall into old habits which means all of our hard work will be lost. Focusing only on our goal doesn’t really work and that is why we so often set one, fail and then repeat the cycle.
On the contrary, if we keep our focus on our journey, we are probably going to reach our goal… and also actually exceed it in the long run! It’s true that an approach like this can take longer but we avoid unpleasant deprivation and suffering for short term payoffs.
Instead of asking ‘When I am going to get there?’, ask ‘How would I like to get there?’
So how can we change the approach?
When you choose your goal and you know why you want to reach it then it’s time to start making changes – these can be small, such as replacing sugary drinks with water or tea or lowering the number of sugary drinks. If you sweeten your coffee, start with fewer teaspoons until you can go without. When eating lunch or dinner add some salad or vegetables to fill you up instead of other things. If you like to eat sweet stuff, try finding something that you like but doesn’t have as much sugar in it. With training, you can start by working out for ten minutes a day – if that’s too much, try doing five, or if you need more do 20 or 30.
Listen to yourself and observe how the changes are making you feel so you can adjust along the way. It’s important that you challenge yourself but without going so far where the process becomes difficult.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have lazy days so it’s essential that you stay consistent with a new change until it becomes a well-built routine – and only then can you upgrade it or start with a new one.
Creating a joyful journey should be an exciting challenge instead of it becoming a burden or a means of proving yourself. Include your friends, partner or even kids and reward yourself to make it fun and learn.
Building your habits mindfully and slowly is like making a house – you do it brick by brick. Even though it takes much longer than putting up wooden walls, it’s going to be much stronger in the long run and it will stand the test of time.
And don’t forget – you don’t want to rush something you want to last forever.