Post By: Steve Graef, PhD | Monday, March 2, 2020

one way

Happy New Year! If you're anything like me, once the fog of the NYE hangover detoxes from my body and brain, I start to think about all of the cool shit that I want to do, see, and accomplish in the upcoming year. However fast forward about three weeks later, just in time for Punxsutawney Phil to not see his winter shortening shadow, my goals are much like that prophetic rodent, back in the hole and not to be seen until next year. The culprit? Trying to do too much too soon. You see, anytime we want to start a new habit or alter an existing one, we have to call in the neurological construction crew to pave some new roads. Sometimes a road already exists. Sometimes it's a dirt path. Sometimes, there's a damn forest in front of us. Regardless, the construction work of the brain requires the same basic tactic…identify the path and roll over it, a lot. Not every path. Not any path. THE path. As a result, by going over the same path over and over and over again, it gets paved down, smooth, and becomes very driveable. This, my goal quitting friends, is exactly how we can use our own neurology to help us tackle the pursuits that we want to achieve this year. You want to accomplish a lot of goals in 2020? Take a lesson from the catalyst itself…New Year's Day. That's right, to do well starting January ONE..start with ONE!

ONE FOCUS. Remember how much trouble Elmer Fudd had trying to catch Bugs Bunny? Imagine if he had to try and catch five Bugs Bunnies at the same time??? Lesson: If you try to catch five rabbits, you tend not to catch any. Why? Because your attention is diverted. The same goes in goal pursuits. It's way too challenging for our neurological construction crew to pave a weightloss road, a stand up comedy road, and a financial budget road all at the same. Take away? I know you are super enthusiastic about conquering all the world's things this year, but temper your enthusiasm and choose one single focus for your goal pursuit. Perhaps it's critical to your livelihood or kills multiple birds with one stone, the key is to pick one thing and stick with it. Check out a book called The One Thing for more on this.

ONE METHOD. Ok, so far so good. We've picked our goal for 2020 (at least the first one). Now it's time to think about how we want to go about accomplishing it. For the sake of example, let's say you wanted to try to lose 20lbs in 2020! Not a bad goal! It's specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based…all of that SMART kick ass stuff that you learned about in Goal Setting 101. But now let's say that you wanted to sign up for spinning, goggle up for swimming, and glove up for boxing. All of which would certainly create an increase in calorie expenditure, however it also increases the likelihood of overwhelm, burnout, and quitting. You see, trying to do too many things is also like trying to pave too many roads. Why? Each new behavior require a new construction. Spinning road. Swimming road. Boxing road. Way too much for just starting out. So, much like we choose one goal to start the year, let's also choose one method to get there. If later on down the “road” this new behavior becomes automatic, then cool, add on another method. But, until then…yep, you got it…Start with one.

ONE REP. Alright. So let's say we've picked our first goal: losing 20 lbs in 2020. We also picked our first method: swimming. Next aspect to consider is the amount that we engage in our method and to make sure we don't overdue it and set ourselves up for failure. A common story. An optimistic goal setter swimmer walks into the pool ready to do his first swim in a loooong time. “I'm ready to lose weight! I'm going to swim! 30 minutes here we come!” Outcome: One of two things happen. He either makes it 5 minutes and wakes up the next morning discouraged. Or he does the full 30 and wakes up the next morning sore. You see, a new road, especially a BRAND NEW ROAD, cannot be paved in one pave over night. It requires paving it over and over and over again. So we have to set ourselves up for success by starting off with small pavings. Mini pavings. Micro pavings. We want our daily task to be so simple and easy that it's impossible to fail. So, in the case of swimming, literally, start with 1 minute. The next day…2 mins. The next day, 3. So on and so forth. Not only do you ease into the method, but you also ensure that your neurological construction crew can properly clear a new path which can continue to be paved. Before you get all crazy with your method, pair it down to one minute, one lap, one dollar, one calorie, one rep. That's right boys and girls, you want to master your method…start with one!

Conclusion. Listen, I get it. We're excited! It's the new year! You want to crush it. All of it! And you can! And you will! BUT, you gotta clear that forest. Throw down that dirt. Pave that road. It starts from humble beginnings. One focus of millions. One method of many. And one rep of multiple. You want to crush a lot of goals in 2020? Start with 1.