On Monthly Goals

So setting rules for yourself is fun.

Not really, but I’m gonna write about it anyway.

 

Recently I’ve started setting monthly goals for myself. My system works like this:

Every day at the end of my nightly journal, I’ll track whether or not I succeeded in my goal that day. My goal for this month is to go running every day, which I’ve been succeeding at for the most part.

Now, there’s something kind of magical about setting goals… If you succeed at whatever your particular goal is, then you feel like you’re doing something correct with your life.

A lot of people go through life feeling generally shitty about themselves and their situation, and setting goals can help with that. But setting goals can also make you feel really stupid and terrible about yourself if you fuck up, so here is how I mitigate that…

First of all, in my new monthly goals, I set very simple, achievable goals. For example, just, “run”. That means put on my shoes and run for literally any amount of distance. Sometimes that means 100 yards. Sometimes it means a nice 3 km walk/jog. Sometimes it’s literally just from my apartment to 7/11 down the street. Any amount of running qualifies as success.

I have several other goals, like writing and improving my diet, but I try not to tie my mental idea of success to them unless I’m actively focusing on them. That way, if I have a great day but eat poorly, I won’t beat myself up about it.

What I’m saying here is that if you set your goals too high, and you fail, you can start a downward spiral that will undo all your good progress. The key here is to improve a little bit every day, and eventually you want to habitualize that improvement so it becomes more or less automatic. If you do one thing every single day for a whole month, you’ll be very close towards habitualizing that thing.

At the end of a year, with 12 new habits under your belt, you could be doing a crazy amount of positive stuff with barely any conscious effort. Or, as I did in December, you could have eliminated some habitual negative stuff from your routine.

 

The short and sweet version is this:

Set a goal and keep track of it every day.
Make it easy enough to accomplish with a small conscious effort
Once it becomes more or less a habit, move on to the next thing.

 

Darren Hardy wrote about this in The Compound Effect, which is a book I recommend reading if you’re interested in self-improvement. He’s a bit preachy with the whole thing, but the advice in there is solid.

 

I don’t have anything clever to say in summation. Just set a goal and stick with it for a month. Do it. I believe in you.

 

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