Recently, I came across this anonymous quote which more than adequately represents the state of most peoples’ goal setting plans. It goes like this:
“My goal for 2016 is to accomplish the goals of 2015, which I should have done in 2014, because I promised them in 2013 and planned them in 2012.”
I am big on goals, but I also recognize that there can be some limitations to the whole goal-setting process. One of the biggest issues I see with goal setting is that we set a goal so we can show ourselves or others who we want to be. The flaw in this thinking is I am waiting to take on that identity until I have achieved my goal. This creates a gap between who I am now and who I want to be, and the goal just makes that even more obvious.
By Identifying and practicing the habits of the person I want to be, I do not have to wait for this new identity. I can be that person right here, right now. The additional bonus is that I am much more likely to achieve my goal, because I already see that I am the kind of person to accomplish this goal.
Step 1 – Set the goal
Let’s put this concept into practice. First, let’s start with who we want to be. You likely are reading this article, because you enjoy sports or fitness, so let’s choose a common athletic goal. Let’s pick the goal of finishing a marathon. Stating that as a goal, one would state: I want to finish a marathon race before November 1st, 2017. Of course, that may not be your goal, but you’ll get the idea of how this works.
Step 2 – Determine the identity related to that goal
Quite obviously, one who completes a marathon is a marathoner, a runner who races 26.2 miles in one shot. However, instead of waiting to consider yourself a marathoner until you’ve completed that goal, take on the identity of a marathoner, now.
Step 3 – Learn what is involved with your new identity
Let’s take a look at the habits of the people who do successfully complete marathons. As long as we are choosing marathoners, we may as well pick the great ones. We can research what they do by reading their books, reading running articles, or finding a highly rated marathon coach. Top marathoners study their sport and those who have been successful before them. They also follow a specific training plan (that includes running and cross training) for a specific race (for which they have registered), pay close attention to their nutrition intake, value rest and recovery, and show up for the race healthy and confident.
Step 4 – Pick just one habit
Taking all of this in at one time may be a bit too overwhelming. To accomplish your goal while taking on your new identity as a marathoner, start by choosing just one habit of your new identity. The choice is yours, but one of the most doable may be studying the people who already have this identity. There are some incredible stories of marathoners in books and on film that are sure to inspire you to begin the next habit in your identity as a marathoner.
Step 5 – Live the dream
When you take on the habits of a marathoner (or business owner, singer, author, Ironman triathlete – whatever is the identity of your goal), you are practicing the habits of someone who already has accomplished this goal, and thus, you already are on your way to achieving your goal.
Step 6 – Show up
Of course, the most important habit of the marathoner is showing up for the race. Without that, he cannot truly be a marathoner. The same holds true for you and your goal. You can study, plan and practice all the habits of your goal identity, but you then need to toe the line, submit the book, record the song, or open the business. After all, it’s who you are!