When I was a kid, I had an American Flyer train set. It was really cool, and it came with enough track to send it around the living room. I had a great looking locomotive and all sorts of box cars and a caboose. While I loved playing with the train it had an occasional problem that bugged me. Every once in a while the intersections of the individual pieces of track would come loose and the train would stop dead. Since the power of the train came through the track, I had to find the broken link and fix it before the train would run again. I had to make sure that I had continuity in the circuit to get it going.
This is a similar experience that I have had with goal setting. I’ll be going along just fine with a freshly polished goal and then someone or something will break my continuity. It may be a holiday, a weekend, or an unexpected event. All of a sudden my best-laid plans to complete the goal are thrown off. Many times I won’t even realize it is happening.
The problem is, if I don’t take action quickly to correct it, the goal dies an immediate death. The longer I wait to do the correction, the harder it is to get going again.
Here are the weakest links of goal setting that can cause you to stumble…
1. Intersections: If you are on a diet (goal) and you open a restaurant menu highlighting Sugar-Free Jello and a Chocolate Mousse Pie (intersection), you may be tempted to have the Chocolate Pie. If you hadn’t encountered the intersection, the temptation would not be there. As with our train example and also with goal setting, the problems come at the intersections. The more intersections you encounter the greater the chance is for failure.
Solution: Just like your mother said, avoid dangerous intersections
2. Friends: In the areas of goal setting, some of the hardest things to overcome is the actions of your friends or family. Take the diet example we used above. Just let one of your friends bring over a special recipe, homemade apple pie to your holiday party. She cuts it into slices and hands you one on a plate. Obviously, you could say you are on a diet, but your friendship and hospitality are at stake. In most cases, you’ll have a piece (albeit a small one). It’s funny how our friends can know about our goals but sabotage us just the same. I remember my friends playing with my train set. They loved to make it go full speed around the corners and fly off the track. It was fun for them since it wasn’t their train.
Solution: Mom was right again. Pick your friends wisely. If they are constantly sabotaging your results, you may need to make some new friends.
Sidenote: Sometimes your friends can be de-motivators. They will disparage your goals and give you every reason not to do them. Sometimes this is due to jealousy, other times it may be fear or lack of information. The best way to deal with this is to keep your goals close to your vest. Tell only a select few people about them and make sure they have a positive outlook. Coaches and mentors are key here.
3. Schedules: If you don’t schedule a time to do your goal activities ahead of time, you won’t do them. This is so true with activities such as fitness training and long distant running. When planning a goal it’s best to plan and schedule it way in advance. 12 weeks works well for many types of goals (we have a 12-week planning sheet and one for fitness goals). When planning long term, it’s always a good idea to have buffer days when you aren’t doing anything. That way, if you have to miss a scheduled day, you can always make it up on your free day. I remember my train set. My parents gave me an additional locomotive one Christmas and put it on the same track as my other one. If I didn’t schedule them right, they would run into each other causing a derailment.
Solution: Schedule your goals in advance to keep from being derailed.
Overall: While setting goals is relatively easy, sticking to them can be a different story. Now that you know the weakest links of goal setting, you can plan around them. Avoiding dangerous intersections and friends that don’t have your best interests at heart can help you along the path. Scheduling them ahead of time will make sure you have time to complete them. Our Goal Setting Toolkit can help. Good luck in the New Year!
Question: What things have sabotaged your goals in the past?