By Gavin Oattes
TWENTY TWENTY FOUR! TWO THOUSAND AND ACTUAL TWENTY FOUR.
It feels like the future. I still remember when we all sang about meeting up in the year 2000! My 12 year old daughter thinks of the 2000s the same way I thought of the 1970s, and the 1970s the way I thought of the 1940s. According to the movies I watched growing up, we should have flying cars by now.
2024 though! Of course, it’s only appropriate that I wish you all a very Happy New Year…whatever that even means these days?! Happiness is such a strange and broad topic. I think I’d probably rather wish you good health and peace of mind.
With the nature of my business and my books, at this time of year I am always asked about my new year resolutions. It’s assumed that I partake in a gigantic goal setting exercise that will inspire me for the months ahead. New year = New you, right?
I used to be right into this thinking. I took it mega seriously. I would stand there at midnight, fire in my belly, firmly believing this was going to be my year. This was going to be the year it all happens, fame and fortune await!
It never really was my year though. Because that’s not how life goes. Every year is just a big loop of ups, downs, magic, sadness, happiness, frustration, wins, losses, good, bad, and good again.
By the time you read this, most resolutions set will now be well and truly unset! Only about 16% of people succeed with their new year’s resolutions. 16!
Why is that?
Perhaps it’s pressure? Obligation? A bit of the old bandwagon going on? Maybe people are scared? Worried about other’s opinions? Some fear of failure, or even success? Maybe we got a wee bit excited and set the bar too high? Maybe we don’t value our health as much as we should? Maybe we don’t really know why we’re doing it?
But here’s the interesting thing…
You are more likely to achieve your goal if you make it about what you want to achieve today.
Instead of planning for how you want to feel in a year, or five years, plan for how you want to feel now.
We are forever asked questions such as: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What do you want to have achieved in life by the time you retire? It’s all very future focussed.
The challenge with the 5 years/10 years type of questioning is that ‘you’ 5/10 years from now will be a very different ‘you’ to right now. It’s hard to guess what will make us happy in 10 years, but I’m willing to bet though you know what would make you happy right now.
Traditional goal setting is all about the future. Set a huge goal and break it down into manageable chunks. Start at the begging and then lay it all out step by step, blah blah blah.
Goal setting can be extremely beneficial, but it can suck the joy out of the journey to the thing that’s meant to make us happy and fulfilled.
The best example of this for me is my time doing comedy. Rather than enjoying the present, I was becoming too wrapped up in what’s next. In ‘making it’. What’s bigger? What’s better?
Would I rather be on that stage, giving it my all, completely and utterly in the moment, feeling great and not get a 5 star review? Or, be so laser-focused on getting a 5 star review that I lose sight of everything else, stressing myself in the process and not enjoy the performance at all?
Now when I’m on stage, my goal is simple; give it my best on that day and come off stage feeling good enough to want to do it all again tomorrow.
Too many of us spend our days feeling discouraged, tired or unmotivated from chasing an endless stream of goals that seem a long way away, so maybe it’s time to re-examine the order of things. Or more so, our timescales.
So, let me tell you about reverse goal setting, why it’s great and more importantly, how we do it.
This is about gaining a different perspective. Flipping the traditional on its head and seeing things through a slightly different lens. Reverse goal setting is less about ‘making it’ in the old school sense and more about working out a path for yourself that is actually fulfilling, right now.
Simply ask yourself 3 questions.
1. What do I want to feel right now?
2. What activity can I do right now to give me that feeling?
3. If I do this activity regularly, what results would it create?
Let me give you an example. You might say right now, “I want to feel healthier”. Ok, what activity allows you to do that? A 30 minute walk outdoors always leaves us feeling better both mentally and physically. So, today, have a 30 minute walk round the block.
If you did this every day for 6 weeks, what sort of result would that create? It would create a healthier, happier you right from the off! So, if you want to be a healthier, happier you, then commit to do something that builds momentum. Before you know it, a 30 minute walk might turn into a 60 minute walk. It might even turn into a run…
Here’s another example. You might say, “I want to feel more relaxed”. Magic! Today, what activity could make you feel relaxed? You might say, “15 minutes of mindfulness makes me feel relaxed, every time I do it, it chills me out a little.” Awesome.
So, if you do 15 minutes of mindfulness every day for the rest of your life, what sort of results would that create? There’s going to be a far less stressed you walking about and who knows, you might just become a mindfulness master in the process!
Don’t wait to truly start living. You can feel the way you want to feel today. No more constant chasing, wishing and hoping for stuff that feels like a lifetime away. Right now, choose the feelings you want to feel, find the activities that give you these feelings and do them.
That’s it. 3 simple steps. Boom!
Various, MADE magazine