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  • Writer's pictureGary Lougher

Day 3: Process Goals and Why Discipline = Freedom

Yesterday, we discussed SMART Goals. For a quick review:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Relevant

T = Time-Bound

We can break the components a little further into outcome goals (what we want to achieve) and process goals (how we're going to do it). Process goals hang out primarily in the "Achievable" component; perhaps unsurprisingly, this is where most people stumble. We can do a great job of setting the goal, but if we don't do what's necessary to achieve it, we can't make it.

Here are a few tips for setting process goals:

  • Understand it may take some time to fine-tune your processes, so factor that into your time frame. Consider starting small to build success and confidence. Remember, we're building habits here. Once it's a habit, you no longer have to worry about it.

  • View your processes as experiments to discover what works and what doesn't. Experiments don't fail; they produce data. This requires paying attention and measuring. Be careful of quitting something just because you don't like it.

  • During your process design, if you come across a required skill you don't have, commit yourself to learning it. Be careful of saying, "I don't know how". There may be an excuse hidden in there. In today's world, there are multiple free resources for learning.

  • Get an accountability partner and enroll people in your goals to garner support. We'll talk more about this later when we discuss the art of enrollment conversations. If you have the means, consider a trainer or coach. Financial commitments have a way of upping our commitment level.

  • Put your commitments in your calendar and treat them as appointments with yourself. Are you more likely to cancel with yourself or someone else? For most, it's themselves. If so, work on that. Remember, we're doing this to build your hope muscle...don't cancel on yourself.

  • Schedule your commitment when you have the most control over your day. Everything I've told myself I "have to do" is usually done between 5 AM and 8 AM. Because I'm sure I'm not going to be interrupted.

  • If you find yourself saying, "I don't have time", be radically honest with yourself about what you have time for. Here, you will find the true cost of where you spend your time. In economics, they call these "opportunity costs". For example, if your goal is health-related and you don't have time to exercise, but you have time to scroll through your phone mindlessly, then the opportunity cost of your time on the phone is your health. I intentionally chose the phone, because it's true for most people. We'll spend a lot more time on that.

I want to be very clear that I do not intend to be judgy here. One of the goals of this series is to shine a light on WHY humanity engages in certain behaviors. So we can move towards not being victimized by them. And that requires honest reflection and a willingness to act.

So, let's stay on track with the radical honesty thing and ask ourselves what the real issue is with why we can't meet our goals. Many of us have had the same goal for many years. It could be weight loss, smoking, drinking, being more fit, a new career, a hobby, or becoming a better public speaker. In a sense, we are all dealing with the same root issue: we don't keep our commitments to ourselves. So, we need to reinvent ourselves as people who honor their commitments to themselves and stay in their process. From here out, I will be referring to this as "Being in Integrity".

That is not as easy as flipping a switch on Jan 1st. We must be aware of what may keep us from flipping that switch so we can take it head-on and start the process of being in integrity. It wasn't until I was willing to discover the root causes of my drinking, that I was able to quit drinking. Fear, self-sabotage, trauma...all very common, if not universal, experiences across humanity, at least to some degree, played their part. The great thing is that our entire world opens up when we start dealing with the causes instead of the symptoms.

Becoming disciplined around being in integrity is a path to freedom...or call it peace of mind or whatever you wish. A few years back, I attended a course where the instructor said, "When we don't keep our word to ourselves, we do bad things to ourselves". That really hit home. When I am in integrity with myself, I silence the inner critic who says I can't rely on myself or am unworthy of having what I want. On another level, when I am disciplined in my process, I don't have to think about what I'm going to do...the process directs me. And I am free to do other things.

Remember, this is like climbing a mountain with no top; every day is Day 1 and the opportunity to get 1% better.

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