So, your timer went off and you were left with a big messy list…or maybe an empty sheet of paper. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Start with Day One.)
If you’re following along in the 30 Days of Tiny Changes journal, you know that your next step is to circle the two goals that really speak to your heart. There’s more on that in the journal, if you’re interested.
In order to look our real goals in the eye, we have to do a little discerning – a little sorting, some careful listening, and some honest jotting. We need to avoid the “should”s and hunt for the “makes me feel alive”s.
The Should Trap
I don’t have a bucket list, but for a long time I thought I wanted one. I loved reading them – Tahiti! Skydiving! Prairie dog ranching! Cancer curing! – just like I love reading minimalists’ lists of the 53.5 things they own (just three shirts. 3!). If you look at enough of these lists in aggregate, though, you start to notice…
…they’re all kind of the same.
Does every minimalist need 2 moleskine notebooks and zip-off cargo pants? Does everyone care about hot-air ballooning over the Grand Canyon before they die?
Or is it really easy to end up with a junk drawer of a list, putting our treasures alongside things that sound kind of interesting, things we know we’ll never do but don’t want to forget about, and maybe a thing or two just to impress the neighbors?
I mean, it sounds like I should want to get in that hot air balloon. But, really, if I make it across the celestial finish line and I never leave the ground without a jet engine involved, I’ll be just fine with that. And my moleskine notbook is full and I’m not in the market for a new one, even if I should miss that smooth vellum paper and the little pocket in the back.
So if you think you should run, or you should drink more water, or you should reach for some other goal, keep thinking…should is usually code for “guilt/peer pressure/an external driver is making me do this” and it almost always means “I don’t really care about reaching this goal but I don’t want to be honest about that right now.” It’s your life, though, so why not be honest, at least with yourself?
Your Life is Not a Junk Drawer
You don’t have to hold on to every goal or idea or moment of genius you’ve ever come across.
You can work toward the things that really matter to you.
Maybe you just don’t care about drinking more water right now. It’s objectively healthy, it’s biologically necessary to a point, and it makes your skin look glowy and clear. But that just doesn’t speak to you. Don’t tell yourself that you should drink more water, just let go of that idea because it’s a should and make room for something that matters to you.
There are so many thousands of ways to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and healthier – so if you’re goals are in that realm (just assuming, here, since I’m a personal trainer), let go of your shoulds and connect with what you really want to accomplish next.
Water will be there when you’re ready.
How will you feel?
Hopefully you’ve found a goal or two that seem like they could be the one(s). Run them through this quick test:
How will you feel when you’ve done that thing?
How will you actually, honestly feel? Will you wake up happier and sleep better knowing that you can run a 6:30 mile? Will you enjoy life more and be more social if you can do three pull-ups in a row?
Give yourself some time to daydream and try on the outcomes of your goals. Travel fully to that scene, in detail – who will you be with? Where will you be? What will you be doing? Wearing? Eating? Thinking?
Don’t worry, I won’t make you share. And if the outcome doesn’t spark joy or excitement for you, check out some of the other goals from your list and see what does.
Once you find those goals…
…the ones with the exciting outcomes, that is, write them down as affirmative sentences like so:
I will run a 6:30 mile.
I will sleep 8 hours every night like a peaceful lamb.
I will be the top prairie dog rancher in Texas.
No “I might”s or “I hope to”s. Just write ’em down. It’s ok if you change your mind about these goals later – life is like that. Just start here for today, or however many days it takes you to listen to your heart and see what outcomes really get you fired up.