Also in the Setting Feel-Good Goals 101 series:
1. The 3 principles of feel-good goals
2. 5 important questions to ask before you commit to your creative goals
4. How to create momentum with new goals
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to run a half-marathon. I love running. Well, I loved it. Because what happened is I got to where I was running just under a half in my training and started to experience old issues with my knees. I didn’t want to stop, but I reached the point where I couldn’t walk. I stopped, rested, and did exercises that were supposed to help with the knee issue I had.
The next year, I wanted to try again and put “run a half-marathon” on my goals list. And guess what? The knee issues came back almost immediately. Life: 1, Goal: 0. Although I’ve tried different remedies since then, I still experience pain when I try to run more than a few blocks. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about goal-setting: focus on the habit, not the outcome.
Now? My goal is the number of times I exercise per week. If some kind of physical challenge or event comes out of that, that’s great (and I still hold a candle for running that half-marathon one day), but that’s not the focus.
Outcomes often involve things we can’t control. What we can control is the process or the habit: how (and how often) we show up.
The same principle applies to creative goals.
When I work with coaching clients, we start by identifying the habit underneath their goal. This is the activity, action or behaviour they will do every day (or as often as necessary) to move them along and help them gain momentum towards their goal.
You might have a goal to write a bestselling book, but the only part of that you have full control over is writing the book and doing the marketing. The bestselling part depends on a number of factors beyond your control, including who else happens to be releasing books that week.
It’s a good to have these kinds of aims (because why not aim high?!), but the most important thing for you to focus on is the part you have control over. Writing a book is a great goal, but that can only happen if you sit down to write. Repeatedly.
It doesn’t have to be a lot at a time—you would be surprised by how much momentum you can gain from doing just a small amount each day—but the most important thing is showing up and doing the work.
The outcome can be the inspiration and the motivation, but the habit is the most important piece to focus on today.
So here is my challenge for you today: Think of one of the big goals you’re working towards right now. What is the habit underneath your goal? How often do you need to do that habit to maintain momentum with your goal?
If you feel inclined to share, leave a comment and let us know what you’re working on!
If you would like extra support in creating and fulfilling happy-making creative goals, I would love to help. I’m a certified digital coach with Coach.me, where I help clients gain momentum with their most important projects. If you’d like to see how coaching could help you, you can find out more here. Use the code HANNAHBRAIMEWEEK to try a week’s free coaching.