2016: Indentify your ‘want-to’ do goals

Zach Aldwin Milkshake in the Boardroom
As I write this article, gingerly using just one hand, my body is reeling from yesterday’s shock visit to the gym. The first session of 2016 (after a year’s hiatus mind you) has left me with various aches and pains that I would rather not have. Muscles I had forgotten existed are reminding me that they did not like being woken from their sedentary slumber. Combined with this is the inability to supplement my deadened energy levels with caffeine as I am on a detox programme for the start of the year. As you can tell I am in the grip of New Year’s Resolution fever. This malady sees individuals attempting superhuman feats of denial and strength at the start of a year until the pain sets in and reminds them why they have failed to attempt this in the past.

Firstly, I am not a resolution person; I prefer setting goals. Common resolutions are often set in the negative (quit, lose, give up are all negative ideas) and can be temporary (diets are short-term).

Goals on the other hand are more positive and have a sense of achievement to them. Regardless of what you call your New Year decisions sooner or later a degree of pain is going to set in.

Exercise requires effort. Losing weight requires sacrificing food. Writing daily requires cutting something else out to make the time for it.

Bigger goals, like starting a business that aims to break even in Year 1, require even more effort. At the point of pain is where most resolutions fail.

They fail because you can no longer rationalise that they are worth it, instead the effort outweighs the benefit and you throw in the towel.

Today, I want to touch on a massive mental shift that can get you to push past the pain.

Everything we do can be seen on either a “Have-to” or a “Want-to”mentality (except dying — that is a guaranteed “Have-to”). When faced with a task or a goal examine your speech.

It will take one of two forms. Either “I have to do this . . .” or “I want to do this . . .” Even if you do not verbalise them the rest of the sentence in your mind is “or this or that will happen”.

I can look at the gym, for example, as “I have to exercise to lose weight or else I will stay fat and maybe die early.” The flip side is “I want to exercise because I will be fitter, trimmer and have a great quality of life”.

The “have-to” is followed by a negative consequence and is an attempt to motivate yourself out of fear. Fear is a poor motivator.

Think back for a minute on times that you have had to do something.

How well did you perform? Yes, you may have achieved the goal but you would have done the bare minimum required to do it.

A “have-to” is like a massive stick beating you from behind as you try climb a hill. You spend your life running just ahead of the pain of failure. Then when you hit the real pain-the effort required to succeed-you make a choice between the pain of the effort and the pain of the “or else”. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, the “or else” just seems the less painful option.

“Want-to” has a positive consequence, a desired outcome. Rather than try pushing you from behind, the “want-to” leads from the front and draws you to the goal. The pain of failure is so far behind you that when you hit the effort you push through keeping your eye fixed on the prize ahead of you.

Set some bold and realistic goals this year. Then make your goals into “want-to”. Alongside each goal set the positive benefits of achieving each one; how you feel, what you will have, what will have been achieved, the benefit to others.

The brighter and bigger you can make this picture the more likely it will come to pass.

As a side note, if you are trying to get people to do something (like pay you) then incentivise it for them rather than just penalise it.

Now where did I put my gym bag? It is time for the second session.

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