My, halfway through January already! And so much as happened:
Ariana Grande released a brand new song.
The Australian Open is in full swing.
Influencers discovered a Cure for all ailments: celery juice.
The Baylor Bears bball team pulled off a huge upset against UConn.
Soooo many women took their seats in Congress.
The government is still shut down.
Girl scout cookies are for sale.
Mikaela Shiffrin continues to dominate the World Cup ski circuit.
Colton has moved on from his relationship with Aly Raisman and is residing at The Bachelor Mansion.
Hair barrettes are back in style.
And the list goes on! But enough about everything else; let’s focus on you. More specifically, let’s focus on your goals.
Did you label your goals as New Year’s resolutions, inspired by a clear starting line and motivated by everyone else’s motivation? Or did you scorn the whole thing, already working on your goals and side-eyeing the hopefuls whose catalyst for self-improvement is a new calendar page?
Either way, you can’t get through the month of January without hearing about goals, reading about goals, feeling discouraged about goals, etc.
Are you tired of it all yet?
Here’s some good news: human performance coach and writer Brad Stulberg argues that those goals you’ve been thinking about and working on — well, you should sort of just forget about them.
He points to the story of Olympic track athlete Brenda Martinez.
A few years ago, Martinez barely missed qualifying for the Olympic team in her best event after she got tripped with less than 100 meters to go in the race.
“The track doesn’t care about your feelings,” she told reporters after the race. “You’ve just got to move forward.”
So she shifted her focus to the 1500-meter race the next week, and dove across the finish line to qualify for the Olympic team by three one-hundredths of a second.
It’s easy to see how Martinez could have lost focus and been sucked into a vicious cycle of rumination. But when I spoke with Martinez shortly after these events unfolded, she told me that it was the same mind-set that got her to the Olympic trials in the first place — after ten years of training, which included setbacks, false milestones, and close calls — that got her through it. “I just quickly let go of what happened in the 800m and got back to my routine, to focusing on all the little things I could do that would give me the best chance of running well later in the week.”
Brenda Martinez wasn’t attached to her goal of making the Olympic team. She was focused on the process.
Stulberg argues that we should all look toward the process as opposed to the goal itself.
Set a goal. Write down exactly what it will take to be successful. Then mostly forget about the goal itself, and just focus on the simple steps you need to take in order to achieve it.
When you focus on a big, overarching goal, Stulberg argues, you can be tempted to cut corners to hit the mark. Or you can run into road blocks outside of your control and get discouraged. And if you do achieve your goal, you can face a sense of loss and cluelessness as to what to do next. By focusing on the process instead of the outcome, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
Here’s one more goal to add to your list: implement Stulberg’s strategy.