One of the first questions you should ask yourself in the morning is “What’s my goal for today?” An ancient rule of The Practice is “If you can’t set goals for yourself then you can’t complain about your life.”
But few people start their day with that simple question. Few people ask themselves that question at any point during their day.
A two year study showed that people who ask themselves that question at the start of their day reported greater self-satisfaction and self-confidence, and it doesn’t matter what you set as a goal, all that matters is that you set some goal.
Keep it simple
Many people set unrealistic, unachievable goals for themselves and essentially set themselves up for failure. They anticipate a negative experience and go out of their way to make sure they get it. You might say their goal is to have a failure-based day and you’d be correct.
The end result of setting unrealistic, unachievable goals is regret and remorse.
Easy solution: Make your first goal learning to set realistic, achievable goals.
Let’s say your goal is to spend 10 seconds of every hour looking at a tree.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
But I’ll bet you can do it no matter where you are, who you are or what you’re doing. If not a real tree then imagine one and focus on that for ten seconds.
Simple, achievable goals teach us to set expectations, avoid failure thinking, teaches us what’s important and what’s worth pursuing.
What can I do for myself today?
One of the simplest ways to set realistic goals for your day is to start by asking what can you do for yourself today (and it’s okay to be a little selfish).
Maybe what you do for yourself today is walk around your neighborhood once. Maybe it’s take a little more time appreciating yourself in the mirror (I know, narcissism. But be selfish. Go for it). Maybe it’s sipping a coffee instead of gulping it down between meetings or on your way somewhere. Maybe it’s stopping on your way somewhere to appreciate the view.
It really doesn’t matter so long as it’s something you do purely for yourself and not for somebody else. You don’t have to tell anybody, either. Keep it your own little secret.
Ask yourself what you can do for yourself today that’s purely “you” and has nothing to do with anybody else, doesn’t borrow from them time, energy or effort wise and doesn’t cost you more time, energy or effort than you can afford.
Keep tabs on yourself
Keep a check on yourself during the day. Every once in a while ask yourself “Am I okay?” (in fact, you can make that one of your goals).
Especially ask yourself if you’re okay when you’re doing your one, selfish thing. What you’ll learn will be amazing.
Over time you’ll discover what you like doing for yourself versus what you’re willing to do for others. This is the difference between selfish and selfless, something few people seem to understand and everyone needs to be aware of.
When I do something purely for myself, that’s self-directed and wonderful. It is, in its way, selfish behavior. “I’m doing this for me, not for you.” When I do something self-directed often enough I begin to learn what I need versus what I want and in the end, I recognize I don’t need a lot of what I thought I wanted. This means I have more of myself, more of what I have, to offer to others. I can be selfless because I know where I end and others begin and can share without fear or shame.
Not bad for just starting out with “What’s my goal today?”
Right up there with keeping tabs on yourself is keeping a running tally of how much you do purely for yourself. Keep that count daily and, again over time, you’ll discover you don’t need to do as much for yourself in order to feel good about yourself as you first thought.
Remember, you’re probably starting this exercise from a place of want and need, meaning you need practice taking care of yourself. The normal progression is to overcompensate with good self-deeds at first.
Fine, excellent, great and go for it.
Then over time you’ll probably start realizing you don’t need as many self-directed things as you thought and you can begin pulling back. My guess is you’ll start feeling greater satisfaction from performing lesser and lesser self-directed deeds.
Again, fine, excellent, great and good for you! You’re growing and learning. Wonderful, isn’t it?
That’s all for now. Stay warm and well.