Goals, goals, goals. (Cue the Mötley Crüe nightclub anthem.)
As humans, we tend to seek adventure and improvement. And in that, we continuously strive for the next level of achievement to attain our next goal.
We set goals, our bosses set goals, the worlds of measurement and quality demand that we set goals. Heck, if we’re not setting and achieving goals, people consider us slackers and unsuccessful.
But is achievement of goals really the best way to measure our success?
Some would argue that it is the only way. I’ll admit, goals are a perfectly good way to see visible signs of achievement. I can see the trophies, medals, and awards as well as anyone.
But those goals (and the glittery gifts that sometimes accompany them) are just symbols of attainment. They are fleeting and soon forgotten.
Because, once achieved, all we can think is, “What is the next goal?”
So might I suggest another way to measure our success.
Instead of setting your next goal on some prize to attain, whether it is a promotion, a raise, to reduce that holiday heft so you can fit into that dress, or look good in those swim trunks, take a different perspective of goal attainment.
And when I say embodiment, I’m not necessarily talking about the practice of movement and awareness to connect mind, body, and spirit. Although, that is a highly effective complement to all goal setting.
What I mean, is when you are working out how to set your goal, begin by considering what qualities or characteristics you want to embody? What type of person is promotable, or deserving of a raise, or has a year-round beach body? Because even though you want to achieve that beach body (which is the outward manifestation), you first need to think like and act like the type of person who is fit enough to wear that swimsuit comfortably and confidently.
And that means having a mindset and work ethic built for that outcome. Without that, you end up in the yo-yo pattern of gaining and losing weight throughout the year based on the temporary goal of fitting in the swimsuit.
You know how it goes. You work hard, you now fit in the suit, and then you ease off your fitness regimen because you’ve attained your set goal. And before you know it, you’ve put the pounds back on, only to find yourself setting the same goal again a few months later.
(It happens to me every year. I’d love to say I’ve beaten the system and keep perfectly fit year-round, but it’s really hard to do. And that’s why I have a coach to help me stay on track.)
Now, before we go any further, let’s see if we can unlock a shortcut to this outcome.
Lag measures are the bottom line, the end goal, the final outcome – in other words, fitting into that swimsuit. Lead measures are the daily and weekly actions we take in order to achieve those lag measures.
So, in our example of trying to fit into our swimsuit, what might be one lead measure? Well, we could exercise each day for at least fifteen minutes. If we want to add another lead measure, we could eat only 900 calories per day. If we want to go a little further, we could we could abstain from alcohol during the week (or give it up completely if you’ve got the will for it).
All of these are lead measures because the success of these measures indicates whether we will achieve our desired outcome. And they are actions, so we can record them in a habit tracking journal if we choose to do so. As we consistently perform these daily actions, striking successes for our lead measures, we accomplish two things.
- We dramatically improve our likelihood of achieving our set goal – fitting into our swimsuit.
- We gain mastery over our routine actions that lead to a fitness mindset – embodiment.
As you continue with this embodiment mindset and work ethic, you create a flywheel of continuous progression. Which means that once you get to your desired fitness level, you’re in a space of mastery – you are the type of person who has and keeps a beach body.
It is now a part of your character, not just a one-off accomplishment, but it really takes maximal effect if you take the time and effort to notice what you’ve become. It’s so easy to pass over the real win here. Certainly, you will delight in the fact that you fit in your swimsuit just in time for that vacation or wedding, and that is awesome. But the real win is the embodiment of the health-minded person you’ve become.
Yes, reward yourself for the obvious, outward manifestation of looking great, and also relish in the success of developing the mastery mindset of being a person who values and embodies healthy living.
It won’t always be easy, but with thought, grit, and dedication, you can embody anything you set your mind to.
So how will you rethink what achievement means as you set goals for the new year? How will you incorporate lead measures for character embodiment along with (or instead of) lag measures for goal attainment? And how will you celebrate when you become the person you’ve always wanted to be?
For consistent and continuous success, seek embodiment over achievement.
Your Mindful Moment:
Achievement is an ephemeral award. Embodiment is the eternal reward.Tweet