When people do not know what they care about, they often receive criticism or feedback or demands from someone or something external (like a pressure to lose weight, for example).
When people do not care enough about a goal or idea, they look outside of themselves for accountability. Sometimes for the right kind of accountability that keeps them motivated, but also negatively other times because they want to deflect responsibility to someone or something else in order to relinquish the pressure on themselves.
That way, if they fail, they can blame it on who or whatever is the external source of accountability and they are free to continue living their settled, unchanged life.
For those who are actually motivated for deep personal change and who have kept up with the last couple weeks' posts, I have a powerful suggestion for how to use external accountability more effectively.
If you have your What and your Why nailed down, this is your How.
Asking for help
Think back to early school years. When you did not understand something in class, what did it feel like? When you raised your hand and asked for clarification, what did the teacher do to the concept that helped you understand it?
When human beings do not understand something, it is often because the concept feels too large and broad for our brains to grasp. We can feel overwhelmed.
When we raise our hand and ask for help, the teacher often words it differently or breaks the concept down into more specific chunks or even uses metaphorical examples to explain it in a different context.
For me, it was always math class. I often understood what the thing was being explained, but I had no clue where it fit or what it did or how it applied to anything.
When we set a goal that is too large and broad, we do not know how to achieve it. We feel overwhelmed, even though it is something we want.
It does not mean that the goal is wrong or bad, but rather that it is not specific enough.
When we ask someone we know for accountability help, the best question they can ask you is: how are you going to break this up?
Just like when you ask for help in grade school, the best way to strategize HOW to achieve your resolution is to word the goal in such a way that it is more succinct and then break it up into smaller, more specific pieces. Perhaps the person you ask for help is also someone you know has achieved a similar goal themselves and you know they can be a good example for you.
Remember that Support System we talked about a few weeks back? Now would be a good time to look at that list and see who might be able to help.
The smaller the pieces of the goal are that you must pursue, the more manageable the overall resolution will be and the more successful you will feel along the way, fueling your motivation even more.
Your Six Step Plan
Let us return to our weight loss example from last week. We determined that the reason to lose weight is to avoid future heart attacks and feel confidently more healthy moving forward. Now how the heck do you do that? Get a notebook.
1. Break up the year into 12 months.
Use these 12 months as benchmarks for yourself. What do you want to have achieved by the end of each month? Do not put pressure on yourself to have all 12 labeled. Allow yourself to fill those in as you go. Maybe start with something six months from now and your year end goal.
SPOILER ALERT: THOSE FAR OFF GOALS WILL DEFINITELY CHANGE AS YOU GO ALONG AS YOU ACHIEVE ALL THE SMALLER GOALS.
2. Next, brainstorm some weekly goals.
Are there certain events or special weeks that you are aware of throughout the year that can also act as benchmark deadlines. Is there anything that you want to make sure to have achieved by then?
3. Now, look at weekly goals in terms of each set of seven days.
What do you want to make sure is done during each normal week? What habits do you hope to start and maintain?
4. List the specific needs you have to reach those weekly goals.
What must you have in place to do so? In the weight loss example, consider who you need to call, what gym to attend, what classes to take, what day they are on, how to find a good nutritionist, etc.
5. Make a list of the order in which you would like these tasks to be set in stone.
In the weight loss example, are you already a member at a gym? Do you want to contact the gym first or find out about nutrition first? Make a list like a grocery list that maps out the order of these little things that must be in place for you to begin working toward the resolution.
6. Start working.
Human beings get caught up here because they feel so accomplished with organizing that they do not want to put the effort into the actual work. That is incorrect. This is when the support system and appropriate external accountability comes into play. Ask that person for how to get over the hurdle to start. Or ask your personal trainer or nutritionist.
All you need is that little push through the first threshold of the goal.
Once you have felt what it is like to start in on the HOW and you have the overall WHAT and WHY clearly nailed down, you will have a super specific experiential picture of what your year will look like, broken down into realistic chunks for you to achieve.
Are you ready?