In Soccer there is the overarching objective of scoring more goals than the other team. The more competition on the field the less likely you are to score. Which, unfortunately for me, is the reason I never scored a goal in the three seasons of soccer I played in a rec league </3.
This would be a hell of a lot easier if there was no one else on the field to compete against you right?
This obvious concept doesn’t seem to be obvious to many of us when it comes to setting and “scoring” goals in real life. If we reduce the competition on the field (amount of goals we are working on concurrently), we can increase our likelihood of scoring (achieving what we set out to).
If we don’t reduce the competition and minimize our focus on one goal at a time the results can be disastrous.
Let me demonstrate this through an example of my own failure. I love to reflect on my own failures because they have provided me the greatest level of insight, multiple learning opportunities, and aided in my personal growth.
Let us go back to the start of the school year in 2015. Looking back, the following were goals that I had envisioned accomplishing as a professional:
1) Join the committee for Competency Based Learning in my school system where we would learn about, implement, test, and collaborate with one another on this educational shift in order to best produce exemplars, results, and guidance for other teachers to follow suit
2) Continue coaching the high school basketball team which went from Thanksgiving to February break. This was a 5-6 day/week commitment after school.
3) Start taking my first steps to really growing and building Nimbus Nutrition, my first company, that will eventually become Striven Nutrition.
4) After recovering from several injuries and a severe lack of motivation, get back to the gym just for the sake of health and well being, 3-5 days a week.
5) Propose to my girlfriend in early 2016 and plan a wedding for December 2016
6) Be able to maintain everything else in my life like being a good friend, staying in contact with loved ones, being there for the people in my life, or even just consistently ironing clothes before work…
It doesn’t seem too crazy right?
1) I was able to do this for quite some time but eventually left the committee due to not being able to attend the meetings as I was a basketball coach. I did however continue working on developing my curriculum to be Competency Based
2) I did this to the best of my ability, but the amount of sleep deprivation and stress that built up from everything else got in the way of reaching my full potential as a coach. Frequent mood swings would occur that did not allow for the best demeanor on the court. It was not that right example in order to shape these youthful minds on and off the court.
3) I was slowly working up on this until November when basketball season started. Then I had zero time to follow through on it. After basketball season was over, I was so burnt out, exhausted, and beat down about my ability to build a company that I never got back into it for a while.
4) I went to the gym maybe 10 times that school year. Played basketball a handful of times. That is about it. So yeah, failed at that.
5) I did propose and we did get married. It was probably the most amazing day of my life. We still throw on the video of our wedding every once and awhile and I get teary eyed every time. I owe a great deal of that to my wife though because she is a damn beast when it comes to planning, organizing, designing, and creating something as wonderful as what that day was for the both of us.
6) I feel as if I failed as a boyfriend, as a friend, as a son, a brother, an educator, a coach, and a person. I put so much on my plate that failure was inevitable and I was truly not able to accomplish any of the goals I set fourth.
The issue wasn’t that I am not capable of doing any of those things. The issue was that I tried to start doing and being all of those things at the same time.
You see, achieving a single goal can be a detailed and complicated process. Think about it. Even just saying “I want to lose 10 lbs” involves changing your buying habits in a store, changing the type of food you eat, changing the food you prepare, changing how you prepare the food, changing your daily schedule in order to get in exercise, adapting to how those changes in diet and exercise impact you mentally and physically, and so on.
IT ISN’T SIMPLE. It takes hard work, dedication, thoughtful planning, and execution.
I tried to achieve 5 completely separate goals that are all uniquely different, complex, and difficult.
So I know what you all are thinking at this point, is there a point to this story or is it just a pity party?
I am telling you this because as you start to move forward, and think about how you can improve your quality of life, this example will help guide you on that journey.
The psychological term for this issue that lead to my down fall is called “Goal Competition”.
As much as we wish we could, we can’t do it all in life. We have to take these steps towards improvement in increments. Even if the mindset revolves around a singular goal of losing weight, greater success will be achieved by setting smaller goals and building upon each one. For the example of losing weight, maybe you start with developing better eating habits. Then, build the habit of doing a specific exercising routine after each healthy meal. Then, you may start taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, and so on.
By breaking down that one goal into smaller unique steps, you ensure yourself that you will make progress on that one aspect of reaching that goal. With that being achieved you can then begin to focus on other aspects that will help to you to succeed in your overarching goal.
This same concept applies to all goals. You may have a list of things that you want to achieve or do. You may feel overwhelmed just at the thought of doing all of them. As you should! Don’t feel like you are the only person that has ever been pushed to take on as much as possible and do everything perfectly (thank you parents!). You won’t be able to do all of them at the same exact time because each one will be competing for your time, attention, effort, and energy. If you break each goal down into a series of achievable steps you will give yourself the greatest chance for success. By narrowing the focus, you can eliminate the outside factors that can hinder your ability.
1) I would audit what it is you want to achieve. What exactly are your goals? Write down all of them
2) Reflect on each goal and number them by ranking which ones have the most valuable to you. If you are torn between goals of a fancy car, advancing your career or maybe being a more attentive, caring, and engaged husband/wife, I think it is clear which one should probably take precedent =p.
3) Take the goal that you have identified as the most important to you. Start breaking it down into smaller steps that more attainable.
4) Take one of those steps that you feel will be the most important for you to start working on first and make a plan for integrating it into your life. Over time, it will become a habit (it takes roughly 60-70 days depending on the difficulty or complexity of the action for it to become an actual habit).
5) Get to work. Give yourself time to make it work. If something isn’t working and you aren’t succeeding at this first step, then you need to revise the steps and most likely break them down even further. Not every process works for every single person, but the key is to learn from it and improve our personal growth.
Hell, I failed to reach my expectations for my goals at most things I wanted for a year, but now I have been succeeding at the majority of them as I have taken them head on, one at a time, in an organized, structured fashion and you can too.