Reflecting on Goals | Reset Your Life #2
When I originally would set goals, sometimes I would get as far as being really specific about what I wanted to change, but would find myself returning back to bad habits a few weeks later. It can be really disheartening to work up to something, only for it to seem like you’ve gone two steps forward and 500 miles backward. However, I’ve found that when I spend a bit of time reflecting on why some of my goals aren’t as successful, the second try is a lot more successful.
Reflecting on why you want to make a change may not be as tangy as In-n-Out’s secret sauce, but it’s the missing ingredient in long lasting habit change.
Why Reflecting is Important
Last week we talked about the importance of being specific when setting goals, and the same thing is true as you start to understand your feelings and attitudes associated with the thing or action you’re trying to change.
But sometimes it’s not enough to simply identify a bad habit. In most cases, we need to admit to ourselves what got us to our current state. Once we start getting more in touch with our emotions and how we react to certain things, making certain types of changes can happen pretty naturally.
In March, I started to realize I didn’t quite like where my life was going. I was in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, barely had any time for social events, and let my passions gather dust. When I realized I needed to make some changes, I did two things.
I started to make a list of where I wanted to be in the next five years. This list turned into a 10 page Vision Document and Manifesto on the specifics of where I wanted to be, and how I planned on getting there.
While I was also creating this Vision Document, I also thought about what events in my past prevented me from making these changes before.
Chances are, if you’re reading or watching this series, you already have a pretty good idea about what you want to change.
Getting specific is the first step in the right direction, but if you can’t start to recognize how you got there to begin with, you’ll probably find yourself in the same spot five months later.
Let’s use my old bad habit of sitting in bed with my phone when I would wake up in the mornings.
Each day, I would start my morning by grabbing my phone, shutting off the alarm, and immediately crawling back into bed scrolling through social media. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I was bored, and cranky, and completely unmotivated to go start my day.
When I realized I wanted to change my morning routine, I identified something specific about that routine - I would go straight back to bed.
Self-Reflection and Goal Setting
In order to answer this big, seemingly unanswerable question, I started to keep track of how I felt each morning.
My alarm would ring, and I would feel so disoriented - but I would also feel like I had been hit by a ton of bricks.
Curling up back into bed was my body’s way of letting me know I should probably get some more sleep, but I was distracting myself while scrolling through my Instagram.
When I started changing my sleep schedule - which, on the surface, doesn’t necessarily sound related - I noticed a huge impact on my energy levels first thing in the morning. I also started placing a cue, or something to look forward to, that would help motivate me to stay out of the bed.
Sometimes that cue was as simple as counting how many days I could not go back to sleep, but other mornings I would set out my running gear or a magazine article I was saving to read over breakfast.
Next week we’ll dive deeper into how you can start translating your specific goal into actionable items, like how I did with these small cues, but you’re not going to be able to get there until you reflect on the larger goal.
What is your body and/or emotions trying to tell you about something you’re trying to change in your life?
Have you tried to complete this goal before? Why did it fail? How did that make you feel?
I have a few more questions over on this week’s worksheet, but once you start to answer some of those questions, you’ve finished the foundation of change, and are ready to move on to the fun stuff, like actually starting to implement the changes in your life.
Next week I’ll be talking more about the third step, which helps you start to analyze what steps you should start to take towards implementing your goal.