I asked my partner this morning, “what should I write about in my blog?”. Surprisingly he came up with a good idea: the importance of progress over goals. Sorry darling – you always come up with good ideas 😉
Even though Jon is a Business Coach and was talking about goals like “I want to be making a million dollars in the next 12 months”, progress over goals makes way more sense with the types of goals my clients set too.
I can’t tell you the number of people who come in with goals like “I want to lose 25kg”, “I want to be happy again”, “I want to stop dating the same type of guy”, or for couples “We want our marriage to be happy”. All these goals can feel so far away from where the starting point is that they can seem impossible to reach.
Also, focusing exclusively on the goal and not on progress sets you up for failure.
I’ll give you some examples.
If we’re talking weight loss you fail if you don’t reach your 25kg or your 5kg in the first 2 months. But if you’re tracking progress and celebrating any gains you make you’re a success. So, “I said no to that chocolate bar yesterday” or “I’ve been exercising so much more that I’m starting to feel fit” are all signs of progress that make you feel successful. And keep you motivated.
If you’re talking relationships and your goal is to have a happy relationship and you focus on success being your version of a happy relationship (that may not be shared by your partner) you fail. But if you focus on things like “we didn’t fight all week”, or “he’s been more affectionate this week” then you win. And you stay motivated.
What if you’re goal is to be happy again? If you focus on being happy (which is meant to be fleeting anyway) as the sign that you’ve reached your goal you are never going to be happy. But if you focus on things like “I enjoyed myself today”, “I laughed a lot at that movie” or “I felt like myself again for a few hours the other day”, then you will start to feel like you’re making some progress. That keeps you motivated
And here’s why it’s so important to feel like you’re making progress. Our brains need reward to keep motivated. If you never feel like you’re making progress you will never feel reward and you will have to rely on willpower to keep you going. Willpower is a limited resource. You will never have enough of it.
So focus on your progress in everything you do and see how much you better you feel and how much closer to your goals you get.