How To Achieve Your Goals – But Don’t Tell Anyone This Secret
I have let myself down badly- again. I look in the mirror and shake my head in dismay. How could you do this Chris? And then I read the answer… in the autobiography of a British Hollywood actor of old. It’s a wake up call, for me, and for you – perhaps. Here it is.
David Niven is long dead. His autobiography, “The Moon Is A Balloon,” was a gem to read en route to Los Angeles and with Hollywood to be explored. He tells about time spent with Winston Churchill during the gloomy early days of the Second World War. Churchill kept reassuring Niven about “…when the Americans join us…” Suddenly, Pearl Harbor happened, and the Americans joined the Allies in the war effort. “How did you know this would happen?” an incredulous Niven asked the great man. “Because, my boy, I am a great student of history.” Point is, Churchill knew reluctant bystanders usually get drawn in to the conflict. History predicted it.
And in that statement I suddenly realized why I keep failing, time and again, on some simple personal goals. Here’s why.
First, because I am insane. I actually believe that by doing the same thing over and over again, I’ll get a different outcome.
Fact is, I need to be student of history. If the way I did it failed in the past, why the hell should it succeed now? History suggests the way I go about achieving certain personal goals is deeply flawed.
In this instance, it’s about weight loss and fitness. Here’s the sad story. I had a health scare 7 months ago and committed to getting fit and dropping weight.
Mistake Number One: I Did What I Always Do
Off I went on a massive ‘campaign’, of diet and particularly, exercise, brutalizing myself to achieve certain goals per week, writing down every session, graphs, heart monitors, things that go ‘beep’, the works.
The weight dropped off, as it usually does. 12 kilos gone in five months. 10 more kilos to go. I was feeling great, looking good and loving the feedback!. “Wow- Chris- you’re well on your way to achieving your goals. WELL DONE!!” Then we were in Asia. We exercised daily. The last day we were at a conference in rural Thailand. It does not get hotter or more humid. During the lunch break, I ran for an hour. Madness. Flew home. Fell sick. Off color and no exercise for three weeks. Fell out of the habit. Got depressed by it. Ate and drank. 9 kilos back on. In just 8 weeks!
Mistake Number Two: I Shared My Goal Far and Wide
And this is the mistake (and insight) I just learnt about, via a TED video of a guy who said this: “To achieve your goals, don’t tell anyone about them.” I have always believed the opposite. If I tell those around me, then they hold me kind of accountable to delivering. Not true, says the research. Those who share their goals feel an almost instant sense of having achieved part of the journey. As people start giving them encouragement and feedback, they feel they are well on their way. And then it is easier to convince yourself to ease up as: “I am basically there.”
Rather, says the research, keep goals totally private. Only tell yourself. And then quietly work away on them until you have achieved your goal.
So, two lessons from a once again failed, or should I say ‘stalled’, fitness and weight loss campaign:
1. Learn from history– if the way you go about it has not worked in the past, why the hell will it work now.
2. Keep your goals to yourself– write down the goal, and a deadline you want to achieve it by, make a long list of everything you need to do to achieve it, develop a prioritized plan, and get on with it. But only tell yourself.
Question For You
But what the hell do I know. I have a track record of failure on this one. So I ask for your help. How do you go about achieving your goals? When you have succeeded, how and why have you succeeded? When you have failed, why? I’d appreciate your help. There MUST be better ways.
Meanwhile, I am setting myself some new goals. Want to know what they are? Send me an email and I’ll tell you…. (Just kidding- I’ll tell you in a year!).