When you reach certain targets in your journey the novelty of ‘starting something new’ wears off. Introducing checkpoints into your goal setting can be a powerful way of achieving your goals.
If you’re anything like me, starting a new project comes with a small rush of adrenaline. The excitement; the idea of embarking on a worthwhile cause incites a surge of energy and the project is started with gusto.
However, once we hit a stumbling block or two, or perhaps a level of success is reached, the drive which was so strong when we began fades and the project isn’t as exciting as we thought and progress grinds to a halt.
This is where the hard work starts. This is where you need to implement discipline.
But sometimes discipline is just not forthcoming. The inner voice speaks up “You’ve done enough…”, “Did you really think you were going to finish this…?”, “It’s not really that important is it?”
These voices are powerful. They speak to your lazy logic brain… the bit of you that wants to take the path of least resistance. I mean change is UNCOMFORTABLE. Discipline takes energy and when we’re busy rushing around keeping life going then energy isn’t always in abundance.
What to do?
If you’ve worked on your WHY in enough detail then these pockets of pause are usually short-lived. Remember, the WHY is the driving force to achieving your goals and in times of self-doubt or energy slump, a quick visit to your why can jump start your lethargy and turn it into action.
But, sometimes, even that isn’t enough.
If you’ve made big progress and have overcome a few battles of will already (and smashed them in the process) the novelty of overcoming obstacles seems ‘the norm’. The satisfaction of success seems to be less rewarding.
Time for checkpoint Charlie.
Go back to your original goal. Look at your notes you wrote, or visit the first conversation you had when you started your journey and re-write it. If you didn’t write it down, now is your chance to re-package it starting from where you are NOW.
Look at the next part of your goal as a new phase. A new project. This is especially powerful if you’ve made some tracks… or headway. Shift your focus to the next weigh point in your project, inject some new enthusiasm by looking at it as though it’s a new challenge.
This reminds me of a trek I did when I was in the Pyrenees. We had our route mapped, our end point marked. We couldn’t see it – it was way in the distance but we had been promised a lake and lunch when we got there.
We set off, I was full of energy and enthusiasm. But like most hard hill climbs my initial exuberance was short lived. Soon the reality of my task was realised, it was going to be a hard, long climb.
My peers were overtaking me. Soon I was falling behind. The scenery – which was beautiful to begin with was now lost on me… The mountain seemed never ending. I was losing momentum. I was doubting my ability to finish and I was getting despondent. The voices in my head began, “You’re so unfit… you can’t do this… look at everyone else…”
Luckily I had an ex-royal marine beside me. He gave me a strategy which I then implemented for the rest of the hike. It was simple and easy to follow. Focus on the next spot (which was only 10 feet in front of me) that was the next goal. Just 10 feet. Anyone can walk 10 feet right? And that’s what I did, for the next half a mile. Uphill.
Taking a new weigh point – even if it’s just a few feet from where you are, makes it super achievable and before you know it, you can see the end. (Or in my case, the lake at the top of the hike).
This approach is so powerful.
Each new check point was my goal. Each new 10 feet was the new weigh point from where I was before. And before I knew it, those 10 feet walks added up to the remaining distance.
Finding strategies that are easy to implement are crucial when it comes to long term goal setting. Using the ‘new check point’ tactic is great for injecting new enthusiasm. Breaking the remaining parts into easy to win segments will help with lethargy. Seeing them ‘done’ will imbue a new sense of achievement and before you know it, your goal will be reached.
So, to summarise;
- When embarking on a long term goal remember that when certain points of success have been reached, your incentive will shift.
- Taking time to re-evaluate your objectives by revisiting your why (from your new level of success) can breathe life into your goal. Do this, often.
- If your end point looks too far away, set much smaller ‘end points’ that you can get to easily.