Who doesn’t love the idea of a good goal? Setting a plan to one day accomplish our hopes and dreams is appetizing to say the least. Yet hanging onto our goals and actually showing some follow through proves to be problematic more often than not. That’s why I cheat.
- I start early
- I build a bridge
- I do favors for my future self
- I have many goals at once
- And I repeat
I am a New Years goal setter and when I set my goals in December, I immediately get that panicky feeling that I am already behind. I feel like I am drowning in the work that I haven’t even begun yet. Part of me understands that the point of setting these New Year goals is to begin in the New Year but the louder, more stressed out part cannot wait. So, I don’t.
In 2016, when I started a 52-week project, I took the first picture on New Year’s Eve, still technically in 2015. The next year, I had prepped an inspiration wall and pre-sketched possible compositions for the 10-image series I wanted to complete, all before the clock struck midnight. The year after that, I had pre-organized all my chicken scratch notes to start the year off right in sorting that mess into what would eventually become a book.
By starting these goals early, I felt confident going into the New Year because I already begun.
Build a bridge
It can be crazy intimidating to begin a lofty goal. Impossible, you might think. It cannot be done! There is simply too much work here. But Isaac Newton was right with the whole, “objects in motion, stay in motion” bit. Once you begin it is fairly easy to keep going. So, begin, no matter how trivial those first steps maybe and whatever you do, don’t stop at the end.
Never stop at the end!
Begin again. Have that next step already in motion before you take a break, whether that is for the end of the day or the end of a goal. If you know what the next phase is, start it. In doing so, you are building a bridge for your future self to follow. You won’t have to build up that momentum again because it carries on with you.
Do favors for future you
Oh, your future self. How much pressure we put upon thee. We tend to expect our future self to be the more put together human. Making better decisions and accomplishing all the things! If future us is going to be such a badass, I like to do whatever I can do to make life easier for her.
When I begin my week or stumble across some rare free time, I try and look at my to-do list and pick out a few tasks I really don’t want to do and do them first. Whatever feels tedious and draining I just do it. Get it out of the way as a favor for my future self. She is always grateful.
At any given time, I have multiple projects happening at once. They range in phases, from the scrappy beginnings, to the final polishing. Personally, my patients’ level could use some work, but instead of dwelling on my shortcomings, I try to optimize them. When one project needs to breathe, I am able to let it by working on another project. If I didn’t have something else to do, there is no way I could chill long enough to let the first project do whatever it needs doing.
This answer will work better for some people than others. You will have to play around with how many projects you have at once and keep checking in to see if this helps or hurts.
One of the most important lessons I learned when goal setting is to never be afraid to repeat a goal. When we give ourselves a certain amount of time to complete a task, it’s all guess work. Who knows how long a goal should take and for that matter, not all goals even have an end date. So, setting up time restraigns and regarding them as law is silly.
Set your goal and reset your goal as many times as necessary. When you reset that goal, take in what you have accomplished thus far. Celebrate any wins, no matter how small. Look at where you failed. Ask Why. Really look at the challenge and come up with a different solution. Now try again. See if it goes any better. Keep problem solving and recommitting as many times as needed.
And while the date may be arbitrary, set one anyways. It is good to have some sort of time marker. It gives us a date to work against, creating a sense of urgency as well as a set time to check into our goals and see how we are doing, allowing us to troubleshoot and try again.
Is this really cheating?
These methods might not sound like cheating, but I like to think of it that way. Maybe that’s why it works. These small rebellious actions silently feed the remaining bits of angsty teenager left inside. Who knows?
Do you cheat? If so, what sort of shenanigans do you participate in to get the work done?
Let me know about it in the comments! More cheating methods are always appreciated here.