n my previous post I introduced a very basic explanation as to what drives our behavior. This was meant to be a simple explanation because I have found that it is very easy to over-complicate something to the point of inaction. Somewhere we get caught up in the minutiae and we don’t take action. My goal with these posts is to help you to start becoming more self-aware and to start taking small and consistent actions. It is these small actions taken consistently that help you to build momentum and see big differences over time. I tell you this because I feel that it is important for you to understand the “WHY” behind my requests.
Think about this for a moment. What is the difference in how you execute a task provided to you by a coach or a boss when they simply give you the task versus when they give you the task and ALSO share with you WHY that task is important and how it contributes to the bigger picture? Have you ever had a coach or boss give you the reason why? If not, unfortunately, I’m not all that surprised. But think about if they did- the impact that it would have on your perception of the task. Would you put forth more effort towards it? Honestly? I venture to guess that you would. If you are in a leadership position or a parent, I recommend taking a minute or two when giving a task to also provide the impact of having it done. Then pay attention to the response you receive and how well or quickly the task is completed. But I digress. Let’s get back to the topic.
As I mentioned last week, it is very easy to get off track or not act consistently when chasing a big goal because the time until you receive the intended reinforcement from that goal can be significant and while you’re chasing that goal, you’re experiencing the pain of the behaviors needed to achieve it. This is why one important step in creating goals is identifying specific daily and/or weekly process goals that you can then reward yourself for achieving.
Let’s go back to the fitness example. Say you have a goal of reducing your body fat percentage by 5% by June 1st. This is called a performance goal. That is a great goal in that it is specific and measurable and it has an exact time associated with it. Now we’re not going to get too deep in to the science of goal setting during this session, but we will later on in the program so sit tight. For now, let’s identify the daily and weekly processes or activities you would take to achieve this performance goal. Maybe, to keep it simple, you identify that you need to drink at least 100 oz of water per day, you need to engage in an exercise session of at least 30 min per day at a high intensity, and you are on point with your diet- however you define that. A critical component to this process is that these process goals are clearly definable. You should be able to easily identify if you did them. You should also know that these specific activities will lead to your performance goal because these will become your sole focus.
Now, instead of waiting the # of months until June 1st to reward yourself while enduring a more strict diet, tough exercise sessions, and double the trips to the bathroom from all of the water you’re drinking, you will be rewarding yourself weekly in small ways for hitting a specific percentage of your process goals.
Here is how this works. In this example, there are 3 daily process goals / behaviors you are committed to. 3 goals x 7 days/week = 21 opportunities. Maybe you feel that 80% compliance is satisfactory to hit your performance goal so that would be 16.8 which you would round up to 17. So if you hit 17 of your process goals/week, you would reward yourself with something that you find reinforcing.
This process helps to keep you focused and accountable in the short term and provide you with some reinforcement while you are chasing your much bigger goal. This same process could be used for any longer-term performance goal you’re trying to achieve.
I’d love to hear how you were able to implement this strategy and how it is working for you. Please share in the comments below.