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“What gets attention gets fixed,” is something one of my favorite managers used to say.
And she was right. Whenever we invest energy into a specific task or goal, we usually see some kind of shift. (Shift happens, as they say.)
While it might not always be the shift we expect, it’s nearly impossible to not see some kind of change when we put energy into a system.
And if we’re willing to go to all the trouble of making a change in the first place–which is no small feat, by the way, since most of us avoid change at all cost–we might as well assess the outcome to see if it was worth it.
Whether you’re putting energy into a giant corporate strategy, or a personal health goal, monitoring our progress helps us see the bigger picture more clearly.
As my self-care practice for the day, I analyzed my progress toward my goals over the past month. Comparing this month’s data to last month’s data, and then comparing that to where I hoped I’d be at this time, helped me figure out where to make adjustments.
The truth is, our goals are just words unless we make a decision to act on them. And unless we’re also willing to check in with them on a regular basis, we’ll never know if our efforts are paying off. (Or, in some cases, we’ll never have an opportunity to confront ourselves about the fact that we’ve done nothing to advance our goals at all.)
We have a tendency to see our goals as successes or failures rather than seeing them as a teaching tool, or an experiment. It’s clear that there’s a connection between our level of excitement about our goals and the likelihood that we’ll actually achieve them. I’ve noticed this with many of my coaching clients over the years. When a goal sparks excitement and drive within us, we feel unstoppable–and most of the time we are. But when we feel indifferent about a goal, or perhaps even dread the thought of getting started on it, it’s a safe bet that we’ll put zero effort into it.
That’s why we must learn to pay attention to the emotions that are tied to our goals. Most of the time, a simple revision is all it takes to shift our mindset.
The key is to create goals that are positive. For example, crafting a goal that moves you toward something you want rather than away from something you don’t want is critical. Avoidance goals–those things we hope to avoid or stop doing–invoke feelings of negativity. It forces us to grieve the loss of something that is familiar, or that we may even enjoy. Positive goals, on the other hand, paint a picture of something better that we are trying to create for ourselves.
When we monitor our performance, we always learn something. We either learn that our current plan is working, in that we’re moving in the direction of achieving our goals. Or we learn that our current plan isn’t working, perhaps we are even moving in the opposite direction. Either way, what we do with that information next is what matters most.
How are you tracking toward your goals?