I’ve been thinking
of my goals lately, as I mentioned last week. Working to achieve my
goals is a bit like problem solving. The goals are where I want to
be, and the problem is how to get there. Just like when putting
together a jig-saw puzzle, there are tools I need to solve my
problems. For a puzzle, I need a large, flat surface and good light
and, if I’m lucky, maybe there’s a picture of the completed puzzle.
For a goal, I need tasks, habits, and attitudes.
Tasks are the
steps I will take to reach the goal. But, if the steps are too
large, they are overwhelming. They need to be broken down into
smaller steps. I have read that you need to break down the steps
into smaller tasks until you look at the task and think, “I can do
It works best when I schedule a time to regularly work on the tasks. This means developing a habit. A habit is a regularly repeated task. Unfortunately, developing a habit is a little harder than simply completing a single task.
There are little
tricks that help. One thing I do is try to piggy-back off a habit
that I’ve already established. I’ll add the new habit before or
after it or some other daily milestone, like lunch time. It’s easier
to only add one or two new habits at a time and keep it small. It’s
easier to convince myself to spend five minutes on something on a
busy day than to try to spend half an hour.
Of course, on
really busy days or weeks, I may drop the habit altogether. At that
point, I need to pick it back up when things have calmed down. This
is not as easy as it sounds. I have to remember my motivation. Why
did I want this habit? It can help to write it down and post it
where I can see it.
this leads to attitude. Sometimes I am too stressed to add one more
thing. If I’m self-critical when that happens, it will make things
that much harder to pick up again. In an article I recently read, https://www.fastcompany.com/90357248/procrastination-is-an-emotional-problem , it says that the more self-critical we are, the more likely we are
to procrastinate. Negativity and stress are huge roadblocks on the
path to achieving goals.
The more often we have negative
thoughts, the more accustomed our brain will become to that response.
It will affect our outlook on life and the work we do. But, we can
train the brain to follow different, more positive paths. https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2015/03/18/how-to-rewire-your-brain-for-happiness/#401ada8359ef
Some ways to do this are practicing
gratitude, thinking two positive thoughts for every negative,
mindfulness, exercise, and creative activities. As we feel more
positive about ourselves and our work, it will be possible to get
more done. We will feel positive about that, and that creates a
positive feedback loop (To replace the previous negative loop).
When putting together a jigsaw puzzle,
there is some structure to the process. For example, edge pieces
first, sky or other large single colored patches last. Other than
that, I tend to take things as they come and work a little bit here
and a little bit there as I find pieces that I can fit into place.
Achieving goals is like that. Once
I’ve determined the tasks and habits I’d like to develop, it’s time
to fit them in place. It may take a bit of work and more than one
attempt to find the best fit. And then something might knock all the
pieces off the table and I have to start again.
But, if I can keep working on my
attitudes in the background and stay positive, I’m less likely to
quit. And if I don’t quit, I haven’t failed, no matter how long it
takes. That’s my plan to achieve my goals. Wish me luck.