Setting Yourself Up (for Success)
In my last post I talked about the importance of understanding momentum and creating momentum consciously in order to use it to take you towards experiences you prefer rather than cycling through those that you do not prefer. In that post I mentioned a few strategies that could be used in order to help re-direct momentum (read previous post by clicking here). One of these strategies is to create a solid set-up for yourself.
Learning how to set yourself can be one of the most powerful things you can do to build new habits (and with them momentum) and achieve goals. Set-ups are basically all the little steps that lead up to something. Before any specific goal is achieved you can take steps that will make it easier for you to succeed in achieving that goal or you can take steps that will make it harder for you to achieve that goal. Either way you have set yourself up. If you take steps that make it easier to achieve a desired outcome you have set yourself up for success, but if you take steps that make it harder you have set yourself up for failure.
Set ups are crucial because goals do not occur in isolation. Just as you are part of the environment that you live in, each of your goals are extensions of you and your environment. For example, let’s say that you have a goal of being healthier. In order to move towards this goal, you have come up with the smaller goal of exercising four times a week. The set up in this situation would be all the prepping you do or don’t do to make it possible for you to meet the goal of exercising four times a week. This can include changes within different parts of your life, even those that seem unrelated to your health. For example, in order to achieve your goal you might need to cut back on work or other commitments to free up the extra time you will need to exercise, you also might need to set aside the money for a gym membership or equipment which might mean that you need to budget appropriately. Changing your eating or sleeping schedule in order to accommodate your new routine can also be part of your set up. Additionally, you may have to work yourself through some negative associations that you have with the idea of exercising, this might mean reviewing your motivation, visualizing the successful completion of a routine, working through anxiety about how others perceive you, or enlisting the help of friends to hold you to your commitment. All of these adjustments are part of your set up because if left unaddressed they are things that could potentially work against the achievement of your goal. The more of these types of blocks you can clear, the easier it is for you to put all of your energy and attention into achieving your goal and the more likely you are to succeed and build positive momentum in the process.
On the other hand, if you decided to set the same goal of exercising four times a week and then you also agreed to work overtime, had a giant buffet lunch, and stayed up late watching movies the night before while ignoring any anxiety or negative associations you might have with the idea of exercising you would have made it significantly harder for yourself to achieve your goal. You are far less likely to exercise when you are pressed for time, have a stomachache, feel tired, and are overwhelmed with anxiety about going to the gym. These types of actions would set you up for failure because they will make it much more difficult for you to achieve your goal. Either way you have set yourself up, but if you want to have some control over the direction of your momentum by setting and reaching personal goals, then the first thing you will want to do is make sure that you have set yourself up for success. It isn’t that you cannot achieve things without getting a solid set up in place—you can, it’s just that it is more difficult to do so and if you are actively working to make changes in your life you are already taking a positive step towards empowerment, so why not help yourself out by making those changes easier instead of harder? If every time you succeed you gain confidence and positive momentum, why not do everything you can to help yourself succeed so that you can get that momentum going?
This strategy is helpful in general, but it can be especially helpful when the goal you are trying to reach feels heavy or overwhelming. When this is the case even thinking about that goal can cause an emotional reaction that makes you want to quit. It can feel like too much and instinctively you might try to avoid doing whatever task you gave yourself to accomplish your goal. If you find yourself in this situation, it can be good to stop and consider what you need to do to set yourself up instead of going directly towards your goal.
To do this, think about all of the small steps between you and the completion of your goal. It can also help to work backwards by thinking about all the things that have the potential to keep you from completing your goals or all the reasons that you can think of for not starting it now. These reasons will tell you where your blocks are. If you hear yourself saying that you can’t do something because… listen to whatever comes after the because and address that before trying to achieve your goal. That list of reasons will tell you what is blocking you and what you need to address in order to set yourself up for success.
If you don’t hear yourself thinking of reasons but find that you are simply putting off something you have already decided you want to do, the first step in your set up might be asking yourself what is preventing you from starting? If it helps you can have a conversation with a friend about it or imagine that someone you trust is asking you the question. These conversations might bring up some of the underlying resistance that you have to making the changes. This will give you a starting point for moving forward. Not everyone realizes this, but change starts way before you reach your goals, it even starts before you begin working on your goals. Change starts when you think about what you want to change and why and then when you take active steps to set yourself up to succeed in making those changes.
Creating a solid, positive set-up may not guarantee that you will be successful in achieving your goals, but it will make it much more likely.
Setting yourself up is the equivalent of starting a race at the starting line instead of trying to start a mile back, surrounded by obstacles. Where you start and what you leave in your way will impact your ability to focus on and achieve goals. If you are currently in the process of changing your momentum and have just set new goals or have not yet decided to commit to any goals, looking at current and potential obstacles that may prevent you from moving towards your goals and taking small steps to address them can be the difference between actively moving towards change and giving up and being caught in the cycle again. Remember you always have the ability to change your momentum and you are constantly setting yourself up to either change or maintain the momentum you are in. If you have decided to make changes, actively looking for ways to set yourself up for success can lay the groundwork that makes the difference between flipping the energy and feeling overwhelmed by it. If you are looking for someone to help you set yourself up to make changes in your life, please check out the about page for information about one-on-one coaching sessions. Always remember that you have the potential to change your experience of reality. It is never too late to take steps towards living a fulfilling, happy life.