Updated: Feb 8, 2020
You have identified and committed to your next goal, so you plan to crush it! You’re going for it. You’re all in. Go big or go home! That’s what we do and it sure sounds right, doesn’t it?
After all, you’ve put down the big bucks to register for the big race and announced it on Facebook. (Why not share the excitement!) You embark on an ambitious training plan and share you daily workouts on Strava and other social media. Everyone knows now so you better not fail. You better kill it! Or perhaps you have committed to a healthier lifestyle and to quit a ‘bad’ habit like sugar, smoking, excessive caffeine or fast food. You are ready to eat better and move more. You might tell family and friends and engage them as accountability support. You know you’ve got this, and you post sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator and computer to remind you that YOU WILL CRUSH THIS!
But I’d like to suggest something different: DON’T crush your goal. And don’t even try to crush it.
The notion of crushing a goal sets up a relationship that may not support your enjoyment, success and growth. We set goals for many different reasons: the desire to achieve something new, to push ourselves to a different space, to test ourselves, to become healthier, to feel a sense of accomplishment, or even to elevate the way we think of ourselves and our abilities. These are just some examples, but in every case the goal is something we choose and pursue because we believe it will add something positive to our lives, much the way we chose to develop and nurture a friendship or even professional relationship.
On the other hand, many of us treat our goal as an opponent or enemy, something far out in the distance that we will steadily and cautiously approach with the attention of defeating. An opponent that we plan to crush. It’s a competition or maybe even a battle. We often create and treat our strategy like a battle plan. But does that make sense?
No, it doesn’t. This creates a framework of conflict which does a few negative things. First, it adds unnecessary stress and negativity to your life. I don’t know about you, but I do not need or want more stress and negativity in my life. Now, the pursuit of the goal itself might inherently involve some. Eliminating behaviors that are associated with pleasure (think eating lots of sugar, smoking) or adding in physically demanding training (think spending more hours running or working out in gym) at the cost of other activities can be stressful pursuits in themselves. No need to add a rival to the mix.
Think of it this way -- how often do you intentionally invite jerks or adversaries into your life? Why would you?
What if you reframed your goal as a new friend that you are getting to know and plan to spend time with and grow close to?
Let’s explore how it might feel when you get a little off course from your plan and eat the ‘bad’ thing or miss a couple of workouts? It can be stressful and feel defeating. If your goal is a friend, you can feel more confident that it will still be there by your side at the moments of failure, and it will not mock or desert you. It’s your friend, waiting patiently until you are ready to come back to the effort. It waits without judgement or impatience, but like a genuine friend it will also speak truth to you even when the facts are not necessarily something you want to hear. For example, when you get really off track and toss in the towel on healthy eating and consistent training for weeks at a time but you make yourself feel better with excuses, it might say, "Hey there, it's been a minute! When are you going to refocus and head my direction again?" Your goal doesn’t really care about your excuses and stories, it wants you to come back and will simply let you know that ultimately that is what matters, excuse or no excuse. And since you have a positive supportive relationship, you will listen.
And eventually, when you do reach your goal, the aim you set out to achieve (which you will, because you are capable and resourceful), isn’t that a time for celebration? Isn’t it a time to appreciate all that the goal has allowed you to accomplish and experience? Seems to me it's a time to celebrate your success with a good friend.
So when it comes to a goal, I say don’t crush it, love it. And have a great time on your way to an amazing achievement, whatever it may be.