This is a favorite quote from professional coach Martha Borst, with whom I took a workshop at the Grotto a couple of years back. Her workshops aren’t cheap, but they’re well worth it, and if you don’t want to spend the money, you can buy her workshop in a book on Amazon. A few things I took away from the workshop:
Commitment. When you make a commitment, KEEP IT. Your will either have results or excuses, but if something is important enough, you will keep that commitment. If you know you will win $1,000,000 if you are on time to a meeting, you WILL be on time to that meeting. You will leave an extra half hour early to make SURE you are on time to that meeting. So why don’t we do that with every goal? Why don’t we treat finishing that chapter by Friday as if it were $1,000,000? When you begin to keep your commitments, you begin to control your life, and your ability to do so is directly linked to your ability to say no – ie “No, I can’t attend that party tomorrow. I have to finish writing this chapter.” Take a look at your life. Whatever you have, that’s what you’re committed to. You are exactly as you want to be. You have exactly what you want to have. Or you’d change it.
Underlying Beliefs. Your life view/beliefs are the cause of your behaviors, which are the cause of your results. Rather than trying to change your behaviors, look at your beliefs. Now change those beliefs. Don’t analyze them for years in therapy. Just change them. Just do it. Now.
What you resist, persists. In other words, if you are judging your negative behaviors, “I’m always late,” “I never make my writing goals,” “I should exercise more,” those behaviors will persist. Set goals, stick as firmly to them as possible, but if you fail, observe your failures and try to understand the underlying beliefs behind them, but don’t beat yourself up about it, don’t judge yourself, just keep going. Start again. Make that next goal. Don’t use the failure of one goal as an excuse to fail the next one. In other words, if you slip up on your diet and eat a piece of cake, don’t think, “Screw it. I may as well eat the whole cake.” DON’T eat the whole cake. Begin again.
Accountability. Find a way to hold yourself accountable. Find a partner or form a group with whom you can set goals. There are all kinds of charts and logs in Martha’s book for dealing with this one: an action planning sheet, a milestone chart, a weekly planning worksheet, a daily planning worksheet, a daily time log, etc. Or you can create your own. Most importantly, break your goals into mangageable bites. Start with the big one: I will finish my book by June. Then work backwards. I will finish my first draft by March, then spend the last three months revising. In order to do that, I will write xx chapters each month (be more specific). In order to do that, I will write xx pages, or hours, per day. I will block out 9-12 a.m. every day to write, etc. Break it down into daily tasks and then schedule those tasks, and commit yourself to them.
That’s a brief summary, but there’s a lot more in the book. And I’m sure there are a gazillion other books and professional coaches out there that are great, too. This is just the one I know. I hired Martha by the hour for a while to help me set goals and to keep me accountable, and it helped tremendously. I was like a new kid on a bike, and as soon as I felt ready for her to let go of the back of my seat, I stopped meeting with her. By that time I was able to set and keep my own goals, and it felt great.