The Skinny – Amy Brunell

Perhaps goal setting should be changed to “focus setting” or “focus intention” since to accomplish any goal we have to ask ourselves, “Where is my focus? Who or what receives my attention?” If you have a goal, say to lose weight, and yet the only thing you are doing is weighing yourself, well that obviously won’t be enough. You must spend time to focus on the desired outcome and steps you can take towards your goal.

If you are curious, think about what currently garners your attention? My kids get a bulk of my attention. My spouse gets some. My body gets another chunk and my writing gets a bit as well. My music gets a bit, and my friends another bit. My dogs definitely get some of my time. Extended family seems these days to get a lot less. When you look at your list-is where you spend your time appropriate for you? I can see by my list, that I need to make a couple of small tweaks in my time and attention.

Are you on the list? If you aren’t even on your own to-do list then there is no way you are giving yourself the time to get to your goal. Goal setting is as much about pondering and reflecting as well as doing. Otherwise we can get frustrated and work in circles.

What is my goal? Clearly define your goal and then ask, “Is my goal doable based on how my life is going at the moment?” Second, “How can I and how will I pay attention to my goal?” “What is the time amount I am willing to devote to this goal?” “How can I break this goal down into small baby steps to practice?” “Am I willing to spend time practicing and will I have faith that over the long term there will be a positive results?”

Once you’ve spent time thinking about your goal, think about the small steps that must be taken along the way. This is the patience part. What are you willing to do? When asked about a recent success, my friend Melissa said, “I was willing to make the least amount of change for the most amount of impact.” She continued, “If I didn’t see an impact, than I had to change a bit more.” That way she wasn’t overwhelmed by the changes she was attempting to make, but instead took small steps to get her to her goal. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to give up what I want in the moment, for what I want in the long term?”

What is the amount of time per day/week you are willing to spend towards your goal? It’s a really important question. Right now I’m working on an exercise goal. I’m trying to add 10 more minutes of stretching and strengthening exercises to my morning. I figured I had 10 minutes while the coffee is brewing. That’s 70 minutes a week potentially to move my body more. I haven’t hit it every day, but many days I have, and I happy with that. Why? Because habits don’t change the moment you set a goal. It takes time to ingrain in your brain your new habit. I’ve actually forgotten my 10 minute goal on some mornings, because my brain is wired to sort of zone out during coffee making. So in setting a new goal, I have to give myself time to ingrain new ways of thinking and behaving and give myself time for my brain to encode the new habit.

Where is your support? No one has ever achieved anything in a vacuum. In America we value and support the idea of doing it yourself, but no CEO got there by themselves. If your support system gets in your way by sabotaging your efforts or calling into question your goal, motives, etc, then let those people go for awhile. You cannot sustain a clear direction without support.

Remind yourself continually. We all need mantras, post-it notes, or other reminders when the going gets tough, when we’re bored, when things don’t seem to more forward. Ask yourself, “What can I focus on this moment?” Put your attention on what needs to be your focus, and not on the boredom, the difficulty or the stuck places. Move what you can. It may be tiny, but it’s movement. Movement is good.

Can you tolerate the mistakes? You will falter. You will screw up. That’s how “genius” is born. Cherish the ride-mistakes and all. You are not infallible. Mistakes will happen. How you choose to deal with those mistakes is a matter of character and backbone.

How shall I focus?

Is my goal doable with the limitations within my life at the moment?
How can I and how will I pay attention to my goal?
How will I remind myself daily of my goal?
How do I need to change my available time to achieve my goal?
Am I willing to spend much time practicing?
Am I willing to have faith in the long-term results?
Can I give up my impatience and need for immediate gratification?
Can I tolerate being human?

The Actors' Gang

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