Fail-Proofing Your Goals

Goals

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How are you doing with your goals for the year? If you are still going strong, great! here you’ll learn some strategies to keep going. But if you went off track don’t worry, we’ll go over getting back on track and making sure you stay on it.

In the last post we discussed how to set up goals you won’t quit. If you didn’t have the chance to read it yet or want to refresh your memory click here

Right after the initial excitement of starting to work on your goals the novelty begins to wear off.  You are not as consistent anymore, you take a few days off, and skip some practice. If you are not careful, those minor setbacks can snowball into quitting your goals a few weeks from now. Let’s make sure you stay on track. Here’s how to deal with setbacks.

Planning for setbacks: Prevention, Reaction, and Recovery.

Regardless of how much planning we do for our goals things will go wrong. Life gets in the way, you break your practice routine, miss training days, take time off, etc. This is normal, don’t beat yourself up, we all fall off the path from time to time.

What we will do however, is plan for it in advance so we can avoid problem situations whenever possible –Prevention-, limit the damage if they do happen –Reaction-, and having strategy to repair the damage and get back on track –Recovery

In the book Switch: How to change things when change is hard, Chip and Dan Heat give a great example of those three steps applied for avoiding car accidents and people getting injured in them. It will serve us as an analogy for our goals.

Most of the time we are relatively safe driving on the road, but accidents do happen and people get injured. We want to bring those numbers to a minimum so we’ll plan for things going wrong at every step.

Our first line of defense is prevention, we want to avoid car accidents from happening in the first place. To achieve this we light up the streets, make signs on the road clear and visible, we set speed limits, and we require people to take driving lessons before they are allowed on the road.

Despite all the preventive measures, accidents will still happen. We come up then with reactive safety features to minimize the consequences. These include Airbags, seatbelts, safety glass windshields, etc.  They are there to lower the chances of getting killed or seriously injured.

Now we’ll take it one step further. Accidents happen, and sometimes the safety features on the road and in the car won’t be enough to avoid injuries. To deal with those situations we create emergency response systems  -ambulances, police, and hospitals- . It’s also why we should have medical insurance.

This completes all three stages of dealing with problem situations: Prevention, Reaction, Recovery.

Now let’s move closer to goals we might have. Here is an example for someone who wants to go for a run every weekday in the morning.

Prevention: Go to bed early the nights before so you don’t feel tired and want to skip your run in the morning.
Reaction: If you went to bed late and felt tired the next morning make an effort to go for a run even if it’s for less time than usual.
Recovery: If you were too tired and you skipped your run, schedule extra time for the next day or an extra day over the weekend to make up for the practice you missed.

Here’s an example for someone wanting to eat healthier.

Prevention: Avoid going to a fast food restaurant even if your friends are going.
Reaction: If you end up at a fast food restaurant for any reason start with a salad so you don’t overeat junk.
Recovery: If you couldn’t help yourself and ate a lot of junk food add an extra gym day to your week or don’t do a cheat day that week.

One of the benefits of planning for setbacks is that we avoid the “what the hell” effect. This is when you have a minor setback, like eating a chocolate bar on a day you were not supposed to, and then turning it into an entire week of unhealthy eating  because “what the hell” you already broke your diet. Reaction and Recovery lets you get back on track as fast as possible.

Keep in mind that your contingency could also be “not to be so strict and just enjoy that you ended up at a fast food place from time to time.” That’s fine. Your plan can be whatever you want it to be as long as it aligns with the way you want to live your life. If you want to be relaxed about your rules then make it so. But know it before hand so you don’t feel guilty in the moment or afterwards.

Your goals will be different from the examples I gave you but the principles of Prevention, Reaction, and Recovery remain the same. Now that you understand those principles come up with contingencies that are relevant to you and your goals.

In the upcoming posts we’ll be discussing more about goal setting. Don’t miss a post, sign up for the newsletter Here

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