I am going to tell you about the common assumption we all have when setting goals and how your chances for success increase when you flip this assumption around. I’m amazed at how well it works and I can’t wait to share it with you.
How we usually set goals
Think back to the last time you set goals. Was it January 1st? Was it last Sunday? I bet you had this underlying assumption going on, that you will be energized, motivated, well-rested and overall excited about the goal that you’re setting for yourself. This is the assumption that we all have even if we don’t realize it. You base your desired action on this fundamentally flawed assumption. You create your plan based on this assumption. Your plan is based on the wrong foundation.
Let’s take my weight loss goal as an example. This is what I did in the past. Let’s say it’s January 1st. It’s the “New Year, new me” type of thinking:
I’m so excited about the fresh start! Starting tomorrow, I’m going to wake up early. I’m going to journal. I’m going to have a healthy smoothie for breakfast. I’ll prepare a big salad for lunch (of course, from the organic produce). I’ll find new and healthy dinner recipes every single week. I’ll go to the farmer’s market to get fresh produce every Saturday. I’m going to cook these healthy dinners every single day. All in all, I’m going to be awesome! I can’t wait! My life is about to change for the best! I’m so excited and motivated to start!
And it wasn’t just positive thinking. I knew better than that. I was creating the action plan. I was buying the planners, the journals, the sticky notes, and everything. The problem was that I could rarely stick with this action plan for a long, and I couldn’t understand why this cycle was happening.
Uncovering the flawed assumption we have when setting goals
My action plan was based on a fundamentally wrong assumption. I assumed that I would have the same level of excitement and motivation throughout the process as I did in the very beginning when I was setting this goal.
We set goals from the place of excitement and motivation. And we often assume that we’ll feel the same way we are feeling right now, when it’s time to show up for the activity in the future. This is why you set big and ambitious goals, you’re having such a hard time sticking to them.
Flip your assumption when setting goals
What if I set big goals but create an action plan with the assumption that I will be tired every single day when it’s time to do this activity? What if assume that I will not be in the mood to do it when it’s time to show up for my plan?
Applying the new assumption to my weight loss goal
I decided to run a month-long experiment where I applied this new assumption shift to my weight loss goal. It all started with my mornings. In all these years, my action plan was based on the assumption that in the morning, I’ll have all this energy to make myself a healthy breakfast, journal, exercise, pack my lunch, read a book, etc.
This time around, I decided to assume that I’ll be tired and not in the mood to do these things every single morning. I am not a morning person. I am not pleasant to be around in the first hour of the day. So why don’t I just assume that I’m not going to be in the mood, that I’m going to be grumpy, that I’m going to be tired?
I thought, “Okay, assuming that I’m not going to be in the mood to do all these healthy habits and tasks in the morning, how can I plan around that?” For me, it meant packing everything up the night before. My new assumption is that I will not have the energy and desire to cook myself a healthy breakfast. It meant I had to pack my breakfast, lunch, snacks, and exercise clothes for the next day.
I also assumed that I’ll be tired in the evening to chop a healthy salad for the next day. How can I plan around this? I decided to buy pre-packaged salads at the grocery store when doing weekly grocery shopping. Everything is cut, packaged, and ready to go.
I also assumed that I will be too tired to find healthy recipes every single week, create a meal plan and a grocery list. Instead, I decided to sign up for those meal kits that are being delivered to you every single week. All I need to do is to choose my meals once a week on their website.
When it came to working out, my new assumption was that I will not be in the mood to work out in the mornings or in the evenings. What other options did I have? For me, it was finding a workout near my office and going there right after work or during lunch break.
Finally understanding what self-care is
I approached my weight-loss goal with the assumption that I’m not going to be in the mood to do all the planning, prepping, shopping, and chopping on a weekly basis and planned around it. As a result, for the past month, I was the most consistent with healthy eating and excessive I’ve ever been.
It feels like I finally understand the meaning of self-care. Self-care to me is making it easier for myself to do good things for myself. It’s not about pedicures and facials. It’s about assuming that you are just human, that you will have bad days, that you will be tired at some point. Self-care is about creating your action plan on this assumption. The opposite of self-care is creating a plan on the assumption that you’re a superhuman, you never have bad days and you’ll always be motivated.
Apply it to your goal
- What is the goal that you’ve been struggling with for the longest time?
- Were you creating your action plan on the assumption that every day you’ll be excited and motivated?
- How will your plan look like if you assumed that every day you’ll be tired to show up for your plan?
- How can you make it so easy that even the tired version of you can do it?
If you prefer an audio format, please consider subscribing to the Monthly Method Podcast.