6 Lessons Learned Setting and Achieving Goals

While in self isolation, many of us  are trying to take advantage of our time to set goals and build new habits. As humans, however, we struggle because let’s be real, change is freakin’ hard! It’s difficult to stay motivated and focused when there’s so much uncertainty. Some days it feels like all you can do is just sit there staring out the window wondering, what’s the point?

But it’s important to remember that this is only temporary. We can either waste the  time we have watching the whole Tiger King series over and over again (I’ve already watched it twice), or we can make the most out of our time and invest in ourselves. We can use this time to build new habits that get us closer to achieving our goals and work towards feeling a stronger sense of accomplishment and purpose in our lives amidst all the chaos.

A week ago a friend of mine, Jillian Alyse, sent me a direct message on Instagram and asked if I’d be interested in doing a live Q&A about setting and tracking goals. I was excited by the idea so I agreed.

During the Instagram Live Q&A, Jill asked me questions such as:

  • How do you get better at setting goals?
  • Why kind of questions do you ask yourself when setting goals?
  • How do you stay motivated and on track?
  • How do you motivate yourself when you really don’t feel like it?

The feedback was very positive. Both Jill and I had friends reach out to us afterwards to thank us and share how it helped motivate them with their goals. We also got a few follow-up questions.

I’m all about sharing and repetition, so figured it may be helpful to those  who couldn’t attend to get the same tips here. Here’s a summary: 

I’ve been a very goal-oriented person for as long as I can remember and continue to set goals both personally and professionally. This goal-oriented mindset has helped me advance in my career quickly and has given me more confidence and a feeling of purpose in my life. But while goal-setting came naturally to me, actually achieving my goals wasn’t as easy. I’ve set goals and forgotten about them only to be reminded at the end of the year that I did nothing to push them forward. They were either unrealistic or I simply wasn’t passionate about them and therefore gave up quickly. I beat myself up for abandoning the goals I set for myself. There are a lot of mistakes I’ve made, but each time I’ve learned how to get better – both at setting and achieving goals. I’m only human so of course there are things I still struggle with everyday, but overall I’ve gotten much better through experimentation and deliberate effort.

Lessons learned setting and reaching goals

Lesson 1: Ask yourself your WHY

In the past, I’ve set goals that were influenced by other people or that seemed like things I should do. For example, I once set a goal of wanting to deadlift almost twice my bodyweight. Why? Because I saw another girl post on Instagram how much she could deadlift and I thought to myself, “I want to be able to do that.” A few months later I felt I wasn’t making enough progress and just wanted to give up. I felt defeated and shitty. The problem wasn’t the fact that I didn’t achieve the goal or the goal itself. The problem was that I set that goal for the wrong reasons. I set a frivolous goal because I was comparing myself to someone else, not because of something I truly wanted to achieve. Setting arbitrary goals on a whim or influenced by someone else just ends up making you feel shitty about yourself when you don’t achieve them because you’re not actually committed enough to put in the work needed.

Now when I’m thinking about a new goal, I ask myself a series of questions before committing to it. This helps me clarify my goal and make sure it’s something I’m serious about and willing to put the work into. One of the questions I ask myself is why?

By thinking over the purpose, reason, or benefit of pursuing a goal, it helps me be honest with myself about whether or not it’s something I should commit to. If I don’t have a strong why, I erase it from my list and focus my energy on other goals that I’m actually passionate about and willing to put the effort into.

Lesson 2: Ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice

Another question I ask myself before committing to a goal is, what am I willing to sacrifice? I’ll try to conduct a cost benefit analysis; thinking through what’s involved in achieving it. For example, last year I set a goal to touch my toe to my head in a dancer pose and I gave myself a year to do it. Why? Because I wanted to work on my flexibility and knew this was a way to challenge myself to keep working on it. At the time I could barely balance on one foot for more than a few seconds and I was at least 2 feet away from being able to reach my toe to the back of my head.

I thought about what it would take to achieve this goal. I did some research on stretches to practice leading up to this pose. I could barely do any of those “beginner” poses. I knew trying to reach this goal would mean I’d not only have to practice stretching almost every day, it also meant I’d have to sacrifice some of my weight lifting time to do this in the morning. It also meant I’d have to struggle through painful stretches that would likely result in me falling over more often than not, months of failed attempts at poses that were difficult, and potentially some pulled muscles. I decided I was willing to make that sacrifice. A year later and I got about an inch away from touching my toe to my head. I didn’t officially reach my goal, but I was impressed with the progress I made and it’s become an ongoing practice.

January 2019 VS December 2019

All goals require sacrifice. It’s better to be honest and upfront with yourself about whether or not you’re willing to make the sacrifice before you start pursuing it.. But if you think through the pain and sacrifice involved in pursuing a goal, and you’re still willing to do it, then you know you have a high probability of reaching it because you’re willing to make the necessary trade-offs.

Commit to a goal or scratch a goal off your list, but do it deliberately.

Lesson 3: Share your goals with your support system

Trying to build new habits and reach new goals is challenging. It involves failing multiple times as you figure out what works and what doesn’t work. To increase your odds of success, share your goal with your support system once you’ve committed to it.

Having a strong support system is so important because at some point or another you’re going to feel like a failure, feel defeated, and be tempted to give up. It’s easy to get stuck in your head and listen to your self sabotaging thoughts. Having a friend or family member that you trust can help build you up and give you the encouragement you need to keep going.

Each year I set a goal for myself that I know will be extremely challenging and will take me the whole year to achieve. For 2020, I set a goal of writing a book. I gave myself the last month of 2019 to write an outline and at the start of 2020 I began writing my first draft. A few months in and I started to question myself. Do I even know enough to write a book? Even if I get it published, who’s going to read this book anyway? I’m a nobody.

Anytime I got stuck in one of these self sabotaging thoughts, I’d confide with my close friends. They’d give me the confidence boost and kick in the ass I needed. They’d remind me of the purpose and impact of the goal. 

Everybody feels like a failure at one point or another. Talking about this with others helps lighten the load and give you newfound motivation to keep going. Talk about your goals and your struggles with the people that you know you can trust for honest advice, that care about you and want to see you succeed. They’ll help you shake the self sabotaging thinking and get back on track when you need it. But it’s on you to talk about it and be open.

Lesson 4: Motivation fades, it’s all about building discipline

Motivation is fleeting, self discipline helps you build consistency. One of the things people often say to me is, “Kris, you’re so motivated at reaching your goals!” The truth is I’m not. I’m actually quite lazy and unmotivated most days. I’m just disciplined as fuck. A majority of the time when I wake up in the morning I’m motivated to go back to sleep. I don’t feel like working out, I’m tired, and I often run through a mental list of excuses. What gets me out of bed to go to the gym is self discipline.

If you’re serious about a goal, you have to get over the idea that in order to achieve it, you need an unlimited supply of motivation. Be honest with yourself and know that self discipline is what you need to work on building. You have to push yourself to do things even when you don’t feel like it. You have to push yourself to keep trying even when you fail. And you do that by repetition. You start small and keep building. If you fail or fall off track, you pick yourself up and keep going even if you don’t feel like it. Do this one step at a time across multiple areas of your life, and building self discipline will start becoming second nature. The result is becoming unstoppable at reaching your goals.

Now that you know you need to build self discipline, the million dollar question is how? A simple two ingredient formula is structure + routine = self discipline. You have to create this structure and routine for yourself. For example, deciding what time you want to go to bed and wake up at then holding yourself accountable to sticking to those times. Deciding what days you’ll work out, then making yourself do it whether you feel like it or not. You have to give yourself the same tough love a strict parent gives their child, but you have to do that for yourself. It’s not easy, but if you keep working at it you’ll build this muscle over time.

I’ve built self discipline over decades of pushing myself to do things that I didn’t feel like doing. This includes waking up at 5:30am when it’s still dark out and too early to be alive or going to bed at 10pm even though there was a show on that I really wanted to finish watching. The more things you push yourself to do, the more disciplined you become. Once you prove to yourself that you can do it, you build your confidence and know that you can continue pushing yourself time and time again. You may fail a bunch of times, but you have to get over that. Failure is part of the process. On days I’m feeling extremely unmotivated, I remind myself that I’ve experienced this before. There’s been many days where I felt just as lazy and tired, but made myself workout anyways. I felt better afterwards and always thank myself later.  

Once you let go of the idea that achieving your goals is a product of motivation and accept that it takes self discipline (which eventually turn into habits), you can begin your journey to being disciplined as fuck and start smashing your goals. Part of this is building systems and structure that makes things easier on yourself so you don’t have to rely on motivation. I often read books about building habits which I then use to  experiment with various techniques to make it easier to reach my goals. 

Lesson 5: Write down your goals down & decide when and where you’ll do them

I used to write down goals on a piece of paper or in my journal and then never look at them again. As you’d imagine, I never achieved those goals. However, once I started writing down my goals and reading them over everyday, I drastically increased my success track record. Another key is to write down when and where you’ll take the necessary steps to reach your goal. 

For example, one of my goals is to workout 5-6 days a week. If I just set that goal, but don’t decide on which days of the week and what time of the day I’ll workout, then I’m relying on whenever I feel motivated to do it. And guess what, it’s not going to happen. It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll have 5-6 spurts of motivation during the week equally spread out and at a time that I’m able to do a workout. The reality is that in the morning there may be one day out of the week that I’ll actually feel motivated to get up and workout. There’s a very low chance I’ll feel motivated to workout after a long day of work and there’s about a 50% chance I’ll feel motivated on the weekend to workout. So if I rely on “whenever I feel motivated” to workout, it’s very unlikely that will happen and I’m inevitably setting myself up for failure.

So what I do instead is I write out a plan for which days of the week and what time of day I’ll work out. After workI feel tired and lazy. I’m more of a morning person so even though I’m tired in the morning, it’s the least shitty option for me. I also know that Saturdays I like to have a few drinks, which means Sundays I’m often a tad hungover and unlikely to workout. So I write my plan to workout in the morning Monday-Saturday. I stick to a routine and wake up at the same time and start my workout at the same time. Sticking to a routine makes it easier because I don’t have to rely on motivation in that moment. I just rely on my self discipline to get my ass up and do it. It’s easier when the decision is made ahead of time.

Pro tip: if you’re laying on the couch or in bed thinking about the thing you should be doing but you’re really struggling to do it, countdown from 5. Don’t think, just count down and then jump out of bed or off the couch like a rocket ship and do it. I learned this tip from Mel Robbins.

Lesson 6: Get an Accountability Partner

The secret sauce of staying on track with your goals is having an Accountability Partner. Even if you’re a disciplined person, sometimes your inner saboteur can get the best of you. When you have someone else holding you accountable, it increases your odds of success.

My best friend, Emily Rudow, and I have been friends since grade 3 and are both quite goal-oriented. When we lived together after graduating college, we were gym buddies, talked about our goals, and helped support each other.

So when I read about the idea of having an Accountability Partner, she was the first person that came to mind. About two years ago I asked her if she wanted to be Accountability Partners and she was down for the idea. At first we agreed to do a monthly check-in. At the start of each month we’d email each other our goals and then at the end of the month we’d review each other’s list of goals and ask how we did.

It helped, but I knew that doing a check-in only once a month was not enough. We needed to kick it up a notch. So we started doing a check-in once a week. At first we agreed to do this but didn’t decide on who would check-in with whom or what day/time to do the check-in. That was a fail. Within a week or two I suggested that I would text her every Monday at 11am. That worked better than the monthly check-in, but some weeks I’d forget to text her.

When I set my goal for the year of writing a book, I knew it would be challenging and I’d need even more support. I asked Emily if she was willing to take our Accountability Partnership to the next level and do a daily check-in. She was onboard. I told her I’d text her everyday by 8am with whether or not I accomplished my goals for that day and if she didn’t hear from me by 8pm, I needed her to text me back. She agreed and we gave it a go.

At the start of each week, we’d email or text each other our list of goals for the week.

My list of goals usually looked like this:

  • Workout 5-6 days for 20-30 mins per day
  • Do yoga 5-6 days for 15-30 mins per day
  • Meditate 7 days 10-15 mins per day
  • Journal 7 days at least 1 page per day
  • Write 1 blog draft
  • Work on my book at least 1 day
  • Read at least one evening after work

I’d then write out my plan for when and what time

For example,

  • Monday: Gym 7am, Yoga 7:30am, Meditate 8am, Journal 8:15am
  • Tuesday: Gym 7am, Yoga 7:30am, Meditate 8am, Journal 8:15am, Read 7pm
  • Wednesday: Gym 7am, Yoga 7:30am, Meditate 8am, Journal 8:15am
  • Thursday: Gym 7am, Yoga 7:30am, Meditate 8am, Journal 8:15am, Write blog draft at 6pm
  • Friday: Gym 7am, Yoga 7:30am, Meditate 8am, Journal 8:15am
  • Saturday: Gym 9am, Yoga 9:30am, Meditate 10am, Journal 10:15am, Write book at 12pm
  • Sunday: Nothing day

By the way, I find having a “nothing day” helps to recharge so I’m not having to be super disciplined every day.

Each day by 8pm, I text Emily how I did on my goals for the day.

For example, most days the text looks like this:

✅Gym
✅Yoga
✅Meditate
✅Journal
✅Worked on book

Or it may look like this:

✅Gym
❌Yoga
✅Meditate
✅Journal
❌Reading

Since doing a daily check-in with Emily, I’ve gotten much more consistent. We also do a weekly check-in over the phone (or in person when not in quarantine) to talk about our progress on our goals, what we’re struggling with, and what we want to work out for the upcoming week.

After making a few mistakes, here are a few guidelines I recommend following when choosing an Accountability Partner and establishing your check-ins:

  • Choose someone who you know is very disciplined that you can rely on to hold you accountable
  • Choose someone who you know can commit to doing regular check-ins
  • Set clear expectations for how frequent and what time you’ll do your check-ins
  • Set clear expectations for who’s responsible for initiating the call or text
  • Set clear expectations for how you’ll do your check-ins and when you’ll send your goals by

Whether you’re trying to establish a new workout routine, learn a new skill, or achieve a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG), I hope these tips and tricks help you on your journey to success! If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to hit me up on Instagram! 

Daily Routine Examples for Success

When you hear the words “daily routine”, what immediately comes to mind? Monotony? Structure? A self-help buzzword that you’re sick of hearing about?

If you’re finding yourself either dismissing or struggling to set up a sustainable daily routine, then keep reading – because I’m going to unveil some of the daily rituals and habits of successful people that will serve you a healthy dose of inspiration!

Benefits of a daily routine

I know I’ve preached the necessity of implementing routine into your day-to-day, but let’s start by tackling the why? There are no shortage of benefits that stem from adding a bit of structure to your day – from bettering your mental and physical health, to improved performance and success-rate of achieving your goals. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into what some of these benefits encompass.

1. Consistency

When it feels like your motivation is in a deficit, having a reliable routine can make it easier to maintain your productive habits. One of the many useful tips shared in James Cleary’s book, Atomic Habits, for forming productive habits is to create a new routine and by building new habits on top of existing ones. This technique is also known as “habit stacking.” It’s easier to hold yourself accountable to following through time and time again if it’s part of your everyday process.

2. Efficiency

When you have a routine, you don’t have to lend too much of your time thinking or deciding what to do next since this has already been pre-determined. Your routine becomes a series of habits you follow; a series of actions that you move through.

3. Mood and cognitive function

Research has shown that having a daily routine can improve your mood and cognitive function. When you have an established daily rhythm of when you get up in the morning and when you go to bed, it’s also been shown to decrease the likelihood of of developing major depression and bipolar disorder.

4. Reduced stress

If you’re feeling anxious or find stress becoming a big burden on your day, let me assure you, you’re not alone. Me and stress go way back, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. Engaging in routines can “reduce stress by making the situation appear more controllable and predictable”, says Indumathi Bendi, M.D., a primary care physician at Piedmont. “Preparedness is a key way to prevent stress.”

Daily routine examples

There’s definitely no shortage of benefits when it comes to engaging in routine, but hey – don’t just take my word for it. Below, I’ve rounded up a roster of some of the most influential individuals who have lent their words of advice for increased motivation and productivity.

Daily routine example for success

Tony Robbins is a renowned author, life coach, public speaker, and philanthropist that has helped millions of people transform their lives. In an article on Business Insider, Robbins shared his daily routine that consists of filling his body with healthy nutrients, his mind with motivation, and his body with energy because he’s no stranger to a 16-hour work day.

Tony Robbins

According to Business Insider, Robbins kicks off his morning with an ‘adrenal support cocktail’ which is essentially a shake composed of greens powder, Vitamin C and antioxidants. After his shake he does a 10-minute meditation Robbins called ‘priming’ which includes expressing gratitude and visualizing success. Then it’s time for his 15-minute intense workout followed by a 3-5 minute sauna to cold plunge to increase circulation. His morning exercise routine is finished off with some stretching, then followed with his breakfast of free range eggs and organic coconut bread.

Daily routine example for self-care

Gabby Bernstein is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, international speaker, and “spirit junkie”. To prime herself for the right mindset every morning, she’s established a daily routine for self-care that includes meditation, exercise, and prayer.

Gabby Bernstein

Gabby Bernstein wrote about her morning routine her blog post What I Do to Feel Good Every Day. She starts off her morning by doing a 20-minute Transcendental Meditation which involves sitting with eyes closed and repeating a mantra. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. To learn more, check out Gabby’s YouTube video where she and Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, talk about Transcendental Meditation and its benefits.

Following her Transcendental Meditation, Gabby does a 20-minute Emotional Freedom Technique meditation (also known as “Tapping.”) This technique involves repeatedly tapping on a pressure point in the upper body while saying out loud an issue that you’re dealing with in order to release negative emotions, stress, and limiting beliefs. Interested in trying it out yourself? Follow along with Gabby’s Emotional Freedom Technique meditation YouTube video.

Next, Gabby does an hour of exercise which varies between yoga, pilates, walking, or anything to get some movement in her morning. In the afternoon she takes a break to do another 20-minute Transcendental Mediation and finishes her day with an evening prayer.

Daily routine example for flexibility and work/life balance

Natasha Nikolaeva is the Co-founder of StretchIt, the popular stretching and flexibility video tutorial app. As a mom and entrepreneur, she’s established a daily routine that helps her maintain a healthy work/life balance.

I asked Natasha what her typical daily routine looks like and why it’s so important. “Raising a baby and running a business is impossible without motivation and discipline.” says Natasha. “That’s where my daily routine comes in handy. It helps me stay focused and get things done.”

Natasha Nikolaeva by Luc Jean-Baptiste

Natasha’s day usually starts at 6am where she feeds and plays with her daughter. Then she takes a StretchIt class (guided video through the StretchIt app) while her baby sits near her. Then it’s time for a quick shower, her nanny comes to take care of her daughter, and Natasha goes to the office.

After work and errands, Natasha comes home to play with her baby, feed her, give her a bath, and help her fall asleep. Once her baby is fast asleep, she responds to messages and social media, then hops on the treadmill for 30 minutes. After that, it’s time for cleaning, cooking baby food, and planning her day for tomorrow!

Daily routine example for endurance training

Emily Rudow is the Founder of Oneiric, a Canadian-based company that specializes in base layer hockey equipment. Emily is also an avid runner. She usually runs multiple marathons per year and recently broke a world record running a half marathon every day for 74 consecutive days.

Whether Emily is working on breaking a world record or training for her next marathon, she relies on a daily regimen to help her build and improve her stamina and overall health. Having a routine helps her balance running her own business on top of preparing for marathons. It’s worth noting that while Emily has an established daily routine, she advocates for switching it up because she feels sticking to a routine too rigidly can be danger, which she outlines here: The Routine Conundrum.

I asked Emily about her daily routine (on days that she sticks to her routine). Emily starts her morning off with the drink of the Gods, a coffee. She meditates for 10 minutes followed by an hour of reading or writing. She kicks off her work day with an hour to an hour and a half of work, then takes a break for strength training which usually lasts an hour. After an hour of strength training, Emily does an 8K run followed by a cool down on the bike. Once her morning workout is compete, she continues her work day.

Morning routine example for letting go

Tanya Pavan is a healer and spiritual coach that helps people relieve stress and anxiety and gain more clarity for themselves. To help her cleanse and ground her own energy, she maintains a simple but effective daily routine.

Tanya Pavan

I asked Tanya about her morning routine and its benefits for the day. “More than anything, my morning practice is a chance for me to process anything that I’ve been holding onto.” says Tanya. “I sit with myself and let my body and mind unravel itself from everything that happened yesterday. This has helped me immensely because from there, I have a clear headspace to start this new day.”

Tanya’s morning begins with a cup of green tea then sitting down to meditate. After meditating, she prays, then does some writing. After writing, Tanya does a cleansing and grounding exercise to help open her chakras and reduce anxiety. For more about cleaning and grounding, sign-up to get access Tanya’s daily cleansing and grounding exercise. To complete her morning routine, Tanya recalls all the things she’s thankful and grateful for that occurred the previous day.

Creating your own daily routine

Hopefully these daily routine examples help you create and/or improve your own daily routine. Want ideas for improving your daily routine? Looking for more resources to enhance your daily routine? Check out how to Perfect Your Morning Routine with These 10 Research Backed Steps.

What Are You Willing To Sacrifice To Achieve Your Goal?

Far too often we set a goal that we’re super amped up about at first. We write out a plan and we’re consistent for a few days. Then somewhere along the way life happens and we lose steam. Eventually we give up. We revert back to our old routines and give in to our favourite vices; our goal seems so out of reach and unachievable that we throw in the towel. 

Then there’s people like my friend, Emily Rudow, who set a goal to break a world record by running a half marathon every day for 70 consecutive days. And she did it! Even more than complete 70 days in a row of running 21.1km (13.1 miles for my American friends), is that she didn’t stop at 70 days, she continued running a half marathon for a total of 74 days!

Where does this superpower-like motivation come from?

So how is it that some people like Emily are able to reach their goal that seems nearly impossible, while us mortals struggle to keep our goal of running 15 minutes a day three times a week on the treadmill? 

The difference? Self discipline. Over the course of the challenge, she built self discipline through consistency. How? Well, one of the keys to building and maintaining this self discipline is deciding ahead of time what you’re willing to sacrifice.Those decisions need to be made ahead of time and we need to be honest with ourselves on what we’re willing to  sacrifice in order to achieve our goal. 

What we want to happen

Usually what happens is we feel a spark of inspiration to achieve a goal – let’s say for example, getting into the best freaking shape of our lives because we have a beach vacation coming up in a few months.

We want to have a rockin’ bod on the beach. So we set a goal. Then we make a plan. We say we’re going to go to the gym 3-5 days a week no matter what and this is the year we’ll get in shape. We’re going to be consistent this time. We’re going to go to the gym after work, we sign up for a gym membership and we are excited about the image in our minds of having the abs we’ve always dreamed of.

What actually happens

We’re motivated and for a while, we stick to the plan. We go to the gym. We feel sore but we love it. It’s a deep, wonderful burn. We can’t walk after doing legs but we’re okay with that because we know that means we’re getting closer to that bod we dreamed about. We stick to our plan of going to the gym 4 days the first week. We keep it going another week, maybe two. Then at some point we take our foot off of the gas. We feel less motivated and decide to sleep in one morning instead of hitting the gym. “One day won’t hurt” you say. “I’ve been working so hard, I deserve this.” Then there’s a work trip and our routine is thrown off so we don’t go to the gym that week. Then next week something else comes up – there’s a birthday dinner for a friend so we can’t go to the gym that night. Then something else comes up. Before we know it, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been to the gym once. We decide to give up altogether and that dream of shredding fresh cheddar on your abs is now a distant fantasy. 

Why does this happen?

Well, for many reasons. We haven’t decided ahead of time what we’re willing to sacrifice in order to reach our goal. We have an idea of what our plan is, but haven’t thought through the impact of this plan. We haven’t gone through all possible scenarios of  life events that will likely happen and throw us off. We haven’t decided what we’re willing to give up to reach our goal in the end. So when these curveballs get thrown our way or we have to decide between going to the gym or going out for our friend’s birthday dinner, we choose the birthday dinner and skip the gym.

Making sacrifices 

Any goal you set or plan you decide you want to execute will involve sacrifices. To say YES to one thing, you need to say NO to other things that want your attention and time. When Emily set her goal to break a world record of running a half marathon every day for 70 days in a row, she thought about what she’d have to give up before starting the journey.

Running a half marathon every day takes time. For Emily, it took about ~2 hours to run, at least 20 minutes to stretch after the run, followed by 15 minutes of icing her knees, and usually an hour nap to recover before starting a full day of work. That meant she had to be up extremely early every morning. It also meant she had to go to bed early every night so she’d have the energy to get up and run a half marathon (have I emphasized how she ran a half marathon every day enough yet?) 

Emily knew this required making sacrifices.

Emily knew this goal meant she had to sacrifice sleeping in, going out with friends, spending time with family, spending time with her partner, and the list goes on. When she set the goal, she knew fully well the pain she’d have to go through to reach it, and she made the conscious decision that she was willing to make those tradeoffs. 

When setting goals for myself, I try to think through a  plan; how will I get there and what will I need to sacrifice in order to reach it? Going through this process helps solidify the goals I truly care about and am committed to, and cuts  the goals I’m not actually willing to follow through with. This helps me decide which goals to seriously pursue and which ones to let go of instead of torturing myself or feeling shitty about not reaching them. 

Setting goals shouldn’t be something you do on a whim. Setting goals should be something you think through to make sure you’re investing your time into things that will be worth the investment and that you’re committed to seeing all the way through, no matter what curveballs get thrown your way. 

Decide ahead of time what you’re willing to sacrifice

The next time you set a goal for yourself, before committing to it, take 3 minutes (it doesn’t have to take longer than this) to ask yourself these questions. Answer them truthfully:

  • What am I going to get out of this goal?
  • What are the things this goal will require me to sacrifice in order to reach it?
  • What will be hard about sacrificing those things?
  • Is it worth it to sacrifice those things for this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal? 

After answering these questions, if the answer to that last question is “yes”, then you know you’re serious about this goal. As you’re pursuing this goal and you have to make sacrifices in the moment, you can remind yourself why it’s worth the sacrifice and what you’ll get out of it. It will also make it easier to stick to your commitment because you’ve already made the decision ahead of time, so you don’t have to think about it and risk flip flopping or convincing yourself out of it.

This technique isn’t fool-proof because at the end of the day we’re still humans and us humans make mistakes. But it does increase our odds of sticking with our goals and being consistent more often than not. 

So I’ll leave you with these questions to think about. What’s that goal you’ve been thinking about and are serious about achieving? What will you have to sacrifice to reach it? Are you willing to make those sacrifices? Why? 

Then my friend, go forth and fucking do it! I believe in you.