Now is the time of year when many people feel in the swing of setting personal and career goals for the next 12 months. The emotional inclination is strong, but how do you translate inclination into motivation and action?
Popular goals involve nutrition, fitness, and weight loss. And gyms typically experience an influx of new members every January. However, by March, many NYR members (the New Year Resolvers) fall off the exercise wagon. Did their goals disappear? No, but like most unrealized goals, the plan was flawed and the mindset was harsh. How does this happen?
Conventional advice is to set high goals to insure you can at least achieve something. Consider this example. Some fitness experts recommend 45 minutes of exercise, five days a week (45m/5d). So suppose you received a gym membership as a gift and although you had not been exercising, you set 45m/5d as your goal. You could be setting yourself up to feel like a failure the first time you miss a single workout because you were tired or sick or sore or rushed or lazy or whatever.
High goals can be effective; but a better motivator for many people is to adopt the mindset that, "Success at any level is success to build on."
Once you fall off that "goal horse," it becomes harder to remount in the same way. Instead, when your exercise goal (or any other goal) feels too big for the day, respect yourself. Set an interim goal in a reduced proportion, like working out for fifteen minutes instead. Consider yourself successful. You overcame sabotaging thoughts and other factors. Fifteen minutes beats a big fat zero. For many people, once they "force" themselves to do those fifteen minutes, motivation expands and fifteen minutes may even become 20 or 25. But in any case, all goal activity is mini-success, which keeps the motivation pot stirred.
This is what I call "goal chunk size." Shifting chunk size keeps you on track when you're having a bad goal day. Tomorrow's success builds on the success you have today. Every slice of goal-directed behavior counts, no matter how small.