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Getting started is hard, but it’s easier than finishing. You may have a bunch of half-finished projects and other half-done stuff. Many people make New Year’s resolutions, but research says that 92% of these intentions falter and fail.
More than likely, you’ve spent most of your life choosing to do more than is possible and beating yourself up for not being able to keep up.
The less that people aimed for perfect, the more productive they became. Perfectionism kills momentum and keeps people from completing their goals.
Perfectionism will do its best to knock you down when you work on a goal.
Excuses are camouflage for perfectionism. You weren’t perfect, so you threw in the towel. You’re not alone.
Everyone wants to get straight As. Nobody aims for Bs and Cs. But getting straight As is challenging and intimidating. That’s why many people don’t even bother trying.
To finish your goals, simply start and keep going. Even if you make mistakes, keep going. Starting toward your goal on Day 1 isn’t the most crucial step. That’s putting in Day 2, the day after perfect.
If you want to achieve your goal, aim for 50% completion. That is, cut your goal in half. This will work for goals like losing weight, or running in the morning.
Some goals are difficult to cut in half. For those, don’t cut them in half; give yourself more time.
So you can apply two tactics – cutting the goal in half or doubling the timeline – to many goals. Slicing your goals in half or extending your timeline may feel like “cheating,” but either step will make you much more likely to reach your targets. Starting small may feel unnatural at first, but you will achieve big results.
Research says that setting realistic goals leads to much better performance than setting overly aggressive targets, but what happens in the workplace where you don’t control the timeline? You may want to have a conversation with your boss about the utility of setting achievable goals.
Make sure your workplace goals are the right size from the beginning.
Perfectionism has no sense of gray, things are only black or white. You do it perfectly or you don’t do it at all.
Time is your most valuable resource. To achieve your goals, pour that resource into your efforts. That means prioritizing where and how you spend your time. When you grant some of your time to one goal, of necessity you take that time from another goal. You can’t have it all no matter what you try to do. Yes, you can squeeze in a few extra things if you structure your days differently.
Even so, you’re going to miss out on something. Instead of biting off more than you can chew and failing, choose what you’re going to fail at and succeed at something that counts.
If you’re like most people, you spend your life aiming too high. You don’t have to lower your standards, just stay realistic about your time frames and what you can accomplish.
You have only two options right now.
1. Attempt more than is humanly possible and fail.
2. Choose what to bomb and succeed at a goal that matters.
Many people fail to achieve their goals because they think goals must be difficult. One huge lie perfectionism tells you is that goals don’t count if they’re fun. Scientists and others who study goal setting look at various factors, including satisfaction and performance success, measurements that capture “how you felt about the process” and “what you actually got done.
For example, losing weight is a worthy goal, but it’s hard. Motivating yourself to run on a treadmill every day is hard. The trick is to make it fun. Figure out how to add joy to your efforts. Fun is personal.
Be careful how you package your fun. People respond, in general, to two types of motivation: reward and fear.
Some people live for the reward. When they know what they want, their instinct drives them to achieve. For example, paying off their debt gives them the freedom to go shopping without stress, or wanting to fit into their old jeans motivates them to work out.
Fear also motivates people: They fear the consequences of not acting.
Sometimes your hiding places – where you go to avoid work – are easy to find, such as watching your favorite show on Netflix when it’s time to clean the house. Some hiding places are sneaky; you think you’re being productive by emptying your inbox, but you’re actually avoiding writing your blog. Identify your hiding places by asking if you engage in “obvious time wasters.”
Ask your friends if you spend too much time, effort or money on tasks or hobbies that don’t help you reach your goals.
Noble obstacles are chores you must finish before you can attack your real goals.
Noble obstacles often rely on the word “until” – as in, “I can’t do my taxes until I know what kind of business I’m really trying to build” or “Karen won’t start her blog until she’s checked in with a copyright lawyer first.”
Using “until” as an excuse seems respectable. It seems as if you’re getting all your ducks in a row before taking action, but in reality, it’s just another form of perfectionism. It can lead you to throw your hands up and say meeting your goal is too hard, so you won’t try.
An alternative to saying “until” is saying “if…then.” It sets up a different form of procrastination.
You procrastinate or don’t start working because you’ve set an imaginary clock or pre-goal for yourself and waiting for that to happen, you come to feel as if it’s too late to start toward your goal. It’s never too late to try. You always have time to begin.
Unlike emotions, data don’t lie. Use data to measure your progress. Data clarify where you are, but you may find them hard to use. Ignorance is bliss. It’s so much easier to avoid checking your bank account, stepping on a scale, making doctor appointments, and so forth. Data will tell you, for example, that you spend too much at coffee shops. If you buy into the lie of perfectionism, you may avoid the objectivity of data.
This goes against every sappy motivational statement…but if you dream too big at the start, you curse your finish.
Information helps you measure any number of things related to your goals: time, products sold, pounds lost, miles run, how much money you saved, and the like. Pick one to three aspects of your life to measure. You may be tempted to measure more, but start small and win big.
See how simple it is to track your progress. When you’re successful, you can add in measuring more factors. If you’re not happy with your progress, adjust your goal, timeline or actions.
Setting new goals is easy, but finishing them is hard. In this blockbuster bestseller, blogger and popular speaker Jon Acuff shares his plans to help you actually achieve your goals.
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