Nobody starts out a new year, or a new project, or a new relationship and says “Wow. I really hope I fail terribly at this”. We all set out with the best intentions. Then things happen. And we fail. There’s lots of reasons why. I’m sure I could write a whole post about it. But this is not about that. This about the unusual ways I’ve tricked myself to ACHIEVE.
1. Pick arbitrary days to set and reach your goal.
I used to set goals every New Year and every birthday. Now I set goals every Tuesday. Or Monday. Or Saturday. Or any day I feel like. If I feel like I should change my life, I set a goal to get there. And I make the “date achieved” arbitrary too. For example on January 20 I made a list of 10 goals to achieve by March 7. Why did I pick March 7? No reason. It used to have absolutely no significance to me. March 7 would’ve passed me by without me giving it a second thought. Now it’s become a really important day to me. I’ll appreciate it and notice its’ coming and passing. That’s cool to think about how I took an otherwise unextraordinary day and will make something out of it.
2. Make the goal totally unreasonable.
On January 20, one of the goals I made was to “Read 10 books” by March 7. I wrote down the titles of the books I wanted to read. I figured out how quickly I was going to have to read them. It was like 1.6 books per week. That’s a lot of reading. Now that it’s getting closer to March 7, I know I’m not going to reach my goal. I’m only on my 4th book, and it’s been hard. But I still read more, learned more, and pushed myself every day to reach my goal. If I would’ve started with a realistic goal like “Read 4 books”, maybe I’d be sitting here proud of myself. But I think more realistically what would’ve happened is that I only would’ve read 2 books. I doubled what I could achieve by being unrealistic! For me, the more unrealistic I can be, the better off I am.
3. Make it your password to your accounts.
If there’s an account that you have to continually update your password to (for example my computer at work makes us update every couple months) I will purposely change the password to whatever goal I’m focused on at the time. If I’m trying to save money for a trip somewhere, I’ll make my password “Africa 2014”. Or I’m trying to exercise more gratitude I’ll make it “I’msograteful”. This is a subtle reminder several times a day of what my goals are and who I want to be.
4. Reframe your goal.
Last spring, I really wanted to get in better shape and lose weight. But I’m bad at sticking to diets and working out super hard. So I did something drastic. I auditioned for the TV show Survivor. Ever since the day of the audition, I ate better, I worked out more, I joined Crossfit. Every time I wanted to quit, I thought about how tough the challenges would be on the show. I haven’t heard back from the show, but I have gotten in much better shape and enjoyed doing it. I found “Survivor” to be a much more exciting goal than “Eat more salad”.
5. Write down why you believe reaching a particular goal will make you happier.
Obviously, people set goals because they think it will make their life better in some way if they achieve it. But if you are going to change a lot of things in your life for it, you need to really understand WHY it will make your life better. If I want to read 10 books, that’s great, but WHY do I think this is going to make me happier? Maybe because I will have time to sit in the quiet and just read. Maybe because I will only read books that I love and I’ll be filled with love. Maybe because I’ll learn something and I love to learn. It doesn’t matter. Now that I’ve thought it through, I’ll like the goal so much more because I understand why I want to achieve it.
6. Try to give up on it.
This was a great piece of advice I received recently. I was encouraged to take my “great” business idea, and try to give up on it for a month. Try to not think about it, not work on it, not talk about it. If I can do this easily, the point is that I’m going to give up on it when it gets much harder a couple months/years from now. If I can quit now, I should stop now. But…if I can’t quit it, if I’m are consumed by it, if I’m haunted by the of not achieving it, then it’s time to go out and get it done.
This post originally appeared on Leonard Kim’s blog