How to crawl out of feeling overwhelmed by any personal challenge
We've all heard about the power of setting goals, but not so much about applying those principles to anything small that repeatedly personally trips us up. We've thought about goals as something you do when you set out to swim the English Channel or triple one's income, but not about cleaning house and sorting down that mess in the garage or basement, or losing weight or getting out of debt or trying to juice for better health, or overcoming negative depressive self-talk.
Just for fun, let's revisit goal setting as a mad scientist would. Let’s get down to the cellular level to discover how to make its principles work for us, right now, with any challenge, no matter how big or small. By doing so, this time, we won't be numbered with those who make unrealistic goals in January and quickly forget them by February. By understanding the exact progression of the steps, we'll crawl out of our personal holes by the dozens! Victory is just around the corner; in fact, you'll find it at the end of this list.
- Write down your goal. This takes your vague sigh/wish out of grey matter/brain fog and sets up a citadel in lead on your paper. There is something powerful about seeing your little "impossibility" in writing. Writing becomes a bridge across your Rubicon. It begins to go to work, "rat-a-tat-tatting" on your subconscious.
What you write must be specific and measurable. It’s like eating a steak: you don't stuff the whole thing into your mouth at once. You bite off little pieces and digest them well. Phrases like "I want to overcome alcoholism," "I want to clean my house," "I want to get in shape and be Miss America," "I want to get out of debt," or "I want to say only positive things to myself" won't work. Start hacking and whittling at your large idea, then rummage through the shavings and pick up one little piece to tackle aggressively.
Let's take the above examples and re-write them in this newer, smaller, more powerful way.
- I will go to an AA meeting.
- I will sort my bedroom drawers, beginning with the small dresser.
- I will make a green salad tomorrow morning—or right now.
- I will not spend money on perming my hair this month, nor on eating out.
- Now to further gain power over your goal, rewrite your goal on a 3X5 card—as a fait accompli. At the outset, re-word your goal as already accomplished—completed before you've done one thing to bring it to pass!
- I no longer drink
- I have all my drawers completely sorted down
- I am slimmer by 15 pounds.
- I say 5 encouraging things to myself a day.
- I have paid off $100 of my debt.
- Visualize your goal.
Now affix your 3X5 card to your morning mirror.
Re-read it every day, aloud. This engages the auditory memory trigger in your brain.
Also, post for yourself a picture of someone who has already achieved it or of the visual end results. This takes your goal into the visual imprinting eye-gate of your brain.
Continuing the examples above with this third step:
- Post a magazine or website’s picture of a clean room.
- Post a picture of a health guru.
Got it? Your written goal sits next to a picture of your written goal, and you hear yourself repeating it each morning, verbally. This solidly embeds your goal into both hemispheres of the brain and into your emotions.
- Next, write down your obstacles toward achieving your goal.
If there weren't obstacles, you would have already achieved it! This step is what most of us missed when we wrote down a goal and attempted to attain it in the past.
“I don't make a salad because the kitchen is too cold in the morning and the vegetables and lettuce are too cold and the faucet water is too cold, and I don't keep the right combination of vegetables in the fridge to even make a salad, and I don't like the taste.”
- Now write how you will overcome each obstacle.
- I'll put a little radiator heater in the kitchen to warm it up quickly.
- I'll pick a salad recipe, make a list and shop for the exact ingredients for my salad and I'll purchase them as my first priority not my last priority.
- I'll prep all the veggies the night before and put them in little containers.
- I'll make a salad dressing that tastes good that helps me get the salad down.
- I'll remove all the ingredients from the fridge when I first get up before making my bed and getting dressed so that when I assemble them they are warmer to the touch.
- I'll make a salad large enough to last two days instead of one.
- Next, decide on a time and a place for each goal.
- I will go to an AA meeting Monday at 3 at town hall.
- I will sort my drawers for 15 min. every night at 8 p.m.
- I'll prep my vegetables at 7 each evening.
- I'll exercise around my city block, and do so at 5 each evening.
- I'll try to go one hour countering every negative thought with a positive one.
- Keep records.
Document your current status toward achieving each of your goals. You do this by keeping a record of what you actually did today. Then determine, did that dive-bomb your efforts or did it help them? What will you do to get a better grip on the objective tomorrow? If you are in debt and your goal is to resolve that problem, keep a record of all of your receipts so that you can log them in and tabulate them by the end of the month to see where your money actually went.
- Decide on a reward for yourself for when it is achieved.
Your reward doesn't have to be huge or expensive. It can be doing something—like hiking in a new area, or even just having an entire bowl of large strawberries—more than you usually allow yourself! Tell someone about your victories or record them in a private journal.
- On the heels of such success you might want to start in again with another goal?! What will that be?
In closing: remember to review seeing and saying your goal each day. Be your own best coach.
For more on this topic, read our eBook on Goal Setting and Time Management.