As we crash into 2014 with our goal of becoming a slim trim millionaire by June firmly in place, already by week three of January, some of the goals will be looking a little shaky. We’ve had the odd slip up with a bag of crisps, added a little more to the credit card, or have yet to smoke our last cigarette. Never mind, June is still a good five months away. We’ll get there yet.
Dr Eric Cobb of Z health has pointed out a couple of ways we spike our good intentions, get frustrated and give up. The first is by over estimating how long it will all take.
We naturally want things to be fast and easy and inadvertently project those desires into our plans. We forget that, despite our great decisions, life trundles on. Bunging banana skins under our feet willy nilly. ‘This week, I will not eat cakes, carbs or chocolate’ Day three, we leap out of bed, get ready to go to work, feasting on one slice of salmon for breakfast, and there, under a tyre of our car sticks out a ball point pen! We pull it out and as we release the pen, the pressure from the car squirts ink all over us and the tyre hisses noisily as it deflates. Aarrgh. Tyre only four weeks old. Change tyre for space saver, change clothes, creep to work, now late for important meeting – which has been relocated at the very last moment – oh, the day drags on and on and we crawl home at the end of it, eat our steamed cod with cabbage. And, of course, stick to our no chocolate, fags or wine plan – or maybe not. Sod the gym.
Apparently taking even the most pessimistic stab at how long it will all take commonly underestimates the time frame by some 40%. Mainly because we forget to expect the unexpected.
So maybe it will take us a year to become a slim, trim millionaire.
The second way we can accidentally blow up our plans is by telling too many people about them. We say we are going to give up smoking or start exercising, for example. Everybody is extremely pleased and congratulates us. Apparently when we are congratulated upon a plan, we feel as if we have achieved that plan! Oops. If we are serious about achieving a goal, only tell those who will be encouraging – but will also hold us accountable. What are we going to do to help ourselves get there? What have we already done? Did we achieve anything measurable. So we deserve the pat on the back.
Setting a goal can be useful. To avoid getting frustrated, set a much longer time frame than initially expected. And tell only the people in our life that will encourage our efforts striving for the goal, not just the idea itself.