Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goals and Trusting Ourselves

Sometimes the most important goal we can set is to learn to trust ourselves again.

This summer I have begun to experiment with setting goals for the week. One thing that struck me while reading Stephen Covey’s books was the importance of keeping promises to ourselves. When we keep a promise we increase our self-confidence and trust in ourselves. When we don’t, we erode that trust. This has helped me realize the importance of setting smaller weekly goals and then keeping them. I can always increase the size of the goal the following week.

Years ago I decided I would walk an average of 10,000 steps a day. At the time I was very out of shape and could barely walk 2,000 a day. I faithfully wore my pedometer from morning to night and recorded my steps before I went to bed. Each week, I set a goal for the average I wanted to achieve. In a couple of months I reached my goal of 10,000 steps average per day. Having a weekly average helped, rather than basing my progress on isolated bad or good days. Setting reasonable goals helped, too. I slowly gained faith in my abilities.

I had to remind myself of the walking experience as I set goals this summer. After a week or so of failing to meet some goals, I realized that I had lost faith. I either needed to drop some goals or decrease them. For example, I would like to practice a certain technique in a book everyday, but I am new to it. I don’t know everything that is involved and how it will affect me. I am better off trying it three times this next week and then observing my response, making tweaks in the technique so that it works for me, and getting help if I need it.

I vowed to do some strengthening exercises five times a week. One day, I absolutely couldn’t bring myself to do them. Finally, I did one exercise at a time. It took me all day to complete a set that normally would have taken under ten minutes. But I did it. At the end of the day I could put a checkmark in the box on my goal sheet. What was more important was that the following week, I felt good about doing my exercises. I had increased my trust in myself.

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