Fearless Leader Jon probably had no idea of just how much of a doozy today’s e-mail would be for me.
You will hate this one.
This is the worst one.
Seriously, I expect letters. Or emails if where you live they have the World Wide Webs.
Today’s challenge is easy.
Take your goal and cut it in half.
You heard me, get that goal out and reduce it by 50%.
Why? Because are two types of goals:
1. Be Good Goals
2. Get Better Goals
Be Good Goals tend to be based on trying to prove something. To gain praise or attention or status. Get Better Goals are about improving. And according to just about every study I could get my hands on (including several in the fantastic book “Succeed,” which is where I learned this concept) Get Better Goals are way better for you.
You see, somewhere along the way, we try to be perfect with our goals. We say “Failure is not an option” as if we are astronauts. Then when we miss the mark, even by a little, we give up. We confuse our big vision, from yesterday, with big actions today as if we have to accomplish our future with one swing of the bat.
But it’s only January. We’ve got all year to accomplish what we want. If you really want to see life change, work on getting better, not being seen as being good.
Plus, one of the reasons most goals fail is that we make them too big. We don’t step toward goals, we leap toward them. We don’t read books for 6 months and then decide one day we’re going to read 52 books this year. We haven’t sent out a resume in weeks but this month we’ll send out 100. I guarantee that your goal is too big right now.
So for me, my goal is now to lose 2.5 pounds. Will I hit that? Hopefully. Will I exceed that? Probably.
I dare you to do this one. It’s not easy, but when you hit it and gain the boost of confidence that propels you into February instead of failing and quitting, you’ll thank me.
P.S. If your goal is to take medicine or something lifesaving, by all means do not cut that in half. Or if it’s to not punch coworkers in the face, don’t start punching them. Or if you’re training for a race and have a very regimented training plan, respect that. A race plan doesn’t count because your plan prevents you from having a goal that is too big.
So my question was this: how on earth do I cut “develop a morning routine” in half?
I mean, it’s already a fairly reasonable goal, I think. My goal wasn’t “develop a strict hourly schedule for the entire day.” It was just to get me going in the morning in the right direction.
I took another look at my routine (I posted it on my phone):
I had the thought that maybe I could just focus on the first two hours rather than the second two. But look at what’s in the first two hours…
Coffee. Devotional/journal time. Wake my daughter. Get dressed. Make bed. Empty & reload dishwasher. Have breakfast.
Of all of those, the only ones that I hadn’t been doing consistently already was the devotional/journal time, getting dressed (I had made a bad habit of waiting till the last possible minute before I had to take Elena to school to get dressed), make my bed, and empty and reload the dishwasher. Well, also the “have breakfast” part, if you mean for myself. I had been lazy in my breakfasting as well.
The primary purpose of the first part of my morning routine was to prevent myself from filling those first two hours with “goofing off on my phone.” The only truly onerous task here is emptying and reloading the dishwasher. Everything else are things that either I enjoy doing or take only a few minutes. (Okay, I don’t love to wake my daughter, and sometimes it takes a lot longer than a few minutes, but I enjoy her presence once she’s awake!)
Certainly I could just concentrate on this part of my routine. It’s probably the most important part. But I have to say that it has not been difficult to accomplish these tasks. All this week, I have checked off most everything in that first two hours list, save for yesterday when I didn’t unload the dishwasher until after 7:30. But it did get done.
After some reflection and reading comments made on the 30 Days Facebook group, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jon’s exhortation that we cut our goals in half isn’t meant to be taken literally. What it really means is to reexamine and readjust your goals as necessary.
I read many people who had bitten off a little more than they could chew when they first made their goals, and were starting to feel a little panicky that they were going to have to play “catch-up” in order to hit their goals. Now that they were given permission to cut their goals in half, they felt relieved and less pressured.
A lot of people made goals similar to mine — they were trying to incorporate a daily discipline into their lives, rather than achieve something specific. Most of these people I think decided that because they were trying to develop new habits, it wouldn’t be feasible to ease off on the discipline of continuing to do those things every day. And that makes sense to me.
However, even discipline goals need to be pursued with grace for ourselves in mind. Here’s what I mean.
Shortly after I ate my breakfast this morning, my stomach started to hurt. I hoped that this would dissipate without my pursuing medicinal measures, but alas this was not the case. I had to make myself a glass of Alka-Seltzer.
While I had already emptied the dishwasher, I hadn’t yet reloaded because no one had eaten yet when I emptied it. Now, however, there was a sea of empty bowls on the table, and a small saucepan filled with soapy water in the sink. But I didn’t feel well enough to reload the dishwasher.
I retreated to my bedroom for a while to drink Alka-Seltzer and snuggle with a heating pad on my stomach. Then I decided to try to get a load of Elena’s clothes thrown into the washing machine as quickly as I could, and I did so. Right after I did that, I took the dishes to the sink and soaked them, but didn’t reload the dishwasher.
I didn’t do anything else before I took Elena to school, aside from brush her hair.
When I got home, I was exhausted and my stomach still ached. I decided to forgo the dishes for a little longer and take a nap. I meant to nap for about 25 minutes, but I hit the snooze button twice and so wound up sleeping for about 45 minutes instead.
I got up and moved Elena’s clothes into the dryer, but that was all I did housework-wise. I then got myself another cup of coffee and ate a couple pieces of dry toast. Then I decided to do some knitting while I listened to music.
I remembered mid-knit that I had planned to make pizza for dinner. So I told myself that when I was done listening to my CD, I would go put ingredients in the bread machine for pizza dough.
I think it must have been the combination of the nap and the knitting break, because when it came time for me to make the dough, I felt quite a bit better. In fact, I felt well enough to do some work around the kitchen after I started the bread machine. I cleaned the oven door (you could barely see through it, yuck!), changed the light bulb over the sink that had been burned out for MONTHS, changed another light bulb in the chandelier, finally put those dishes in the dishwasher, and rehung a copper pot that had been hanging over the door to our kitchen but had fallen off several weeks ago.
By the time I was finished with all this, my stomach had decided to remind me that all was not yet well in Tummyland. But, I had accomplished quite a few things that needed to be done.
The only thing I did not do was remove Elena’s clothes from the dryer. I’m not sure I’ll do that today, either. I may wait till tomorrow. That’s when I plan to wash towels.
Oh, I never planked or did yoga today, either. With my tummy hurting I didn’t think planking was a good idea!
This is my point: not everything has to be accomplished in my morning routine. The point of the routine isn’t to follow a strict checklist of tasks. The point is to stop wasting my mornings and start using them to get my day moving in the right direction. It’s also to get myself in the habit of doing certain things that otherwise I just try to squeeze in whenever.
Also, I had been toying with the idea of extending the time of “part two” of my morning routine by a half hour so that I could get one writing task completed. I think I shall do that. That will make it much more likely that I actually achieve that goal. (And as Jon pointed out way back on Day 2, none of this is mandatory. No one will dock my pay if I get one writing task done by 10 a.m. rather than by 9:30!)
I mean, technically that writing task can happen anytime. After all, I had no freelance tasks today, so by my “routine” rules I should have written this blog post before 10. I’m writing it around 2:45 p.m. instead. And that’s perfectly okay.
And now I think it might be time for another nap. Hopefully a shorter one though. And hopefully I’ll feel a little better the rest of this afternoon and evening.
After all… I have a musician coming to my house in two days! (You didn’t really think I could get through a blog post without mentioning that, did you?!)