We have talked about how starting small is the most sustainable way to reach any type of New Year’s resolution—or to make any type of change during your divorce and recovery. Let’s build on what we discussed about starting small. We’re going to dive into actually setting goals. But first, let’s talk about why setting goals is so damn hard.
We Make It Too Difficult
That’s right—much like why New Year’s Resolutions suck, our minds are conditioned in a way that makes goals unattainable. This faulty thinking is for two reasons.
The first is that we buy into crap puritanical societal conditioning that says we’re not getting what we want because we’re weak or lazy, which is bullshit. You’ve been working your ass off your whole life and sacrificed a shitload in your marriage, only to have things fall apart. So that whole nose-to-the-grindstone thing is bogus.
The second is the flip side of it, which I call the Disney Effect. It’s from that song from Pinocchio: When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.
Okay, so do you really think that sitting and hoping for things to magically improve as long as you hope and dream? Cut the crap. It doesn’t happen like that.
Hope is not a strategy, people. You need to make your goals realistic and achievable.
Looking for Change
Okay. Now that we’ve established that we’ve been going about it wrong, how do we make any progress? Does that mean we have to accept the status quo and deal with it? Hell no. You subscribed to Surviving Your Split because you want change.
And the only way you’ll get out of your rut and make your goals realistic and achievable is to start reframing it with the following mindset.
What is something you can do that:
- Doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed?
- That you can actually manage, time-wise and financially?
- That’s actually fun? Or at least doesn’t feel like you’re getting your fingernails pulled out with pliers or being forced to watch golf or sit through an opera.
I like to call this exercise the Goal Achievement Test. When you start something, you need to make sure you can answer yes to those three short questions. Because if you can’t, then attaining that goal won’t happen.
That’s not to say you’re doomed and you walk away—you don’t get off that easily. Instead, it just means that you’ll need to reframe your goal and really narrow down what you want to do–something you can actually manage.
Goal Achievement Test
Let’s run through this exercise and let it be a starting point for you to start reframing your goals into something realistic, with a greater success rate. And remember, if you answer “no,” it’s not the end of the world. It just means you have to narrow down your goal.
Proposed Goal: I want my confidence back.
Does it make you feel overwhelmed? Yes. Kind of. I’m not sure what I need to do to feel confident.
Revised Goal: I can start feeling more confident when I start feeling better about my body. I can’t fit into my old clothes any more, which makes me feel even worse now that my marriage is ending.
Does it make you feel overwhelmed? A little. What am I supposed to do to start with this goal?
Revised Goal: I would like to start being more physically active, which I haven’t done in a while.
Does it make you feel overwhelmed? No. It’s something I need to do that I know I can do.
Can you manage it, time-wise and financially? Yes. I can start going for walks around my neighborhood. I can start with ten-minute walks, three times a day. There’s also an affordable gym near my house that I can visit a few times a week.
Is it fun, or at least, not torture? Yes, I think so. I’ve always liked taking walks to clear my head, and I do like the elliptical trainer at that gym!
See how easy that was? Goals aren’t a zero-sum game like we’re conditioned to believe. However, remember, you must define them in a realistic, manageable way in order to reach them.
A word on those of you who say, “I don’t have time!” or “I can’t afford it!”
I’m going to say this as nicely as I can. Those are bullshit excuses, and you know it. If something’s important to you, you’ll make the time. Simple habits can be formed in five to ten minutes a day.
And when something is really important, you’ll find a way to pay for it. It’s called investing in yourself. Because if you don’t, then who will?
So, what are your realistic and achievable goals?
Until we speak again, remember to take care of yourselves. You deserve it.