I was re-reading one of my favourite books the other day, the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, (if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it) and in it he was discussing the importance of getting really clear on your goals. He then went on to present the idea that once you were clear in your mind on what you wanted to achieve, or where you wanted to go, rather than then jumping straight to asking yourself “HOW do I achieve this?” or “WHAT do I need to do?” which is what most people do, you should instead ask yourself “WHO do I need to become to achieve this?”
If you think about it, asking yourself that question can completely change how you approach the goal, and sets you up for lasting change and success. When you ask yourself WHO you need to become your focus shifts from short-term actions to long-term mindset and behaviour changes, which will create results at a much deeper level and enable you to sustain them. By asking yourself “WHO?” you open up a much broader spectrum for change.
Let’s say, for example, you want to lose weight. Most people would decide how much weight they wanted to lose, a timeframe they wanted to work within and then create an action plan to achieve that goal. Relatively simple (note I said simple not easy!) and in theory if you complete all of the actions on your plan you will achieve your goal.
But what happens then??? Many people will change their behaviour radically to achieve their desired outcome over a relatively short period of time; maybe they decided to hit the gym 6 days a week, or you cut carbs from your diet, or you gave up your social life and became a hermit for 3 months to achieve your bikini body, maybe it was all of these! Whatever it was, the reality is that for most people, whilst this is an acceptable sacrifice for a short-term "project", it’s not a sustainable lifestyle choice (what is life if you can never enjoy a roast potato?!) and therefore once they hit their goal they revert back to their old habits and often find themselves putting the weight back on and restarting the process all over again in 12 months’ time. Not a productive use of your time and energy.
If, however, we approach things slightly differently and ask ourselves first to define our goal clearer; Is your goal really to lose weight, or is it actually to have more energy to play with your kids in the evenings, or to improve your health, or to increase your self-confidence? The weight is probably actually just the “measurable” factor within the goal.
Once you’re really clear on why you want to achieve your goal, you can then ask WHO you will need to become – note the different mind-set between focussing on short-term ACTIONS to achieve a goal and long-term HABITS to achieve a lifestyle shift. If you ask yourself WHAT you need to do to lose weight you come up with a list of actions; workout 5 times this week, limit my calorie intake, cut out carbs and refined sugar, cut out alcohol. However, when you instead ask yourself WHO you would need to be to be someone who lived a healthy lifestyle and looked after themselves, you’d probably instead come up with a list of HABITS to build in; Get 7-8hrs sleep a night, prepare meals with fresh ingredients, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water, get more fresh air, exercise 3 times a week, enjoy everything in moderation, as well as a list of habits to reduce/stop; reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, swap the daily chocolate bar for a healthy snack, stop experimenting with new “Bake Off” recipes and start experimenting with new, healthy recipes to try. If you focus your energies on introducing these new healthy lifestyle HABITS you will still achieve your desired goal to lose weight, it might take a little bit longer, but the habits you’ve now built will ensure that you maintain your success for life and that the journey there will feel much less “stressful”.
The results = less energy in, and greater, longer lasting results out.
So next time you’re doing some goal-setting, try asking yourself WHO you’ll need to be to achieve, and sustain, your desired outcomes, before asking yourself WHAT you need to do, and see if it makes a difference.