win your day: strategic game plans for successful goals
The small wins you experience daily will sustain constant change and forward momentum to make progress in crushing your goals. We all have things we want to achieve for our health, personal life, work, whatever it may be. But we rarely think about how we are going to get there. Setting a goal is the easy part. Where most people fall short are the mindsets and planning toward goals.
First, instead of remaining fixated on the outcome, enjoy the process and celebrate the micro-goals you achieve daily. When you focus so much on the results, but not the process, goal setting can reduce your current happiness and raise your levels of anxiety and stress. You may feel upset, lose confidence, slow down your momentum, and justify acting directly against your set goals if you don’t reach them. This can lead you to question your ability and self-worth and ultimately you'll likely give up. If you are working toward goals that are black and white—success vs. failure—it can have more damaging effects than if you appreciate and prioritize the process of reaching those goals.
Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and give you purpose. Goal-setting tends to be way too broad and generic. “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Great. But why? “I want to lose 10 pounds because I want more energy to play with my children after work.” Knowing your why provides clarity and connects you more to your goal. Once you know your why, set goals that align with your purpose.
Now that you have your purpose, success comes from establishing your goals, and building (and experimenting with) a well-designed system of habits to act upon your goals daily. I like to compare goals to the championship game at the end of the season. Your systems are what you do each day, during the offseason, at practices, and the games in the season, culminating in the potential championship game. Now imagine trying to live through those daily tasks and events while constantly thinking about winning the championship (your goal). It’s likely you grow frustrated focusing on the future outcome and burn-out. I like to focus on systems because systems affirm that right here, right now, you have everything you need to act in accordance with your goal. Right now, you have the ability to introspect on current habits and create new ones, get moving and workout, cook your own meals, sleep 7-8 hours a night, meditate, etc. These are the things you can start doing now independent of any future outcome or goal. Systems keep you focused and productive on your most important tasks and goals. Goals fail; systems don’t.
Say your goal is to build lean muscle mass and be able to do eight unassisted pull-ups. Your system can be your training schedule for each week and month, the exercises you form your workouts around (vertical pulls, scapular stability and mobility, core control) and your recovery habits outside of training sessions (eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting adequate amounts of protein, reducing bad stress, getting a full night’s sleep, etc).
Finally, take action and plan. It starts the night before, unplugging, sitting down, reflecting, and deliberately writing down your game plan for specific steps to make tomorrow successful — from the daily goals, to what you want to accomplish. Then to the logistics— where you need to be, how you must get there, and who will be with you there. This even includes what you’re going to eat since eating well (and affordably) requires foresight and preparation.
Celebrating small, bite-size wins shifts the focus from vague future outcomes to the present moment and a tangible process. These small wins are easy to track and sustain long-term motivation and progress.