by Susan McCarthy
A few weeks ago, an acquaintance complained about starting her day on the wrong foot when she couldn’t find her keys. I made the suggestion (that she’s probably heard dozens of times), “You could put your keys in the same place all the time.”
She sighed, “I put up hooks for the keys, but I never remember to use them,” She shrugged as she wandered off, suggesting this was a situation beyond her control.
I could have asked her why she didn’t hang her keys on their hook. This probably would have put her on the defensive and she would have told me about everything she carries into the house and how she starts making dinner before she even has the chance to take off her coat.
Or, I could have asked her why it was important to find her keys in the morning. Now, (I imagine) she’d start talking about saving time and feeling calmer and more organized instead of frantic. If I’d asked why this was important she would have found her real goal. Her goal wasn’t to hang her keys on that hook … her goal was to know where her keys were.
Sometimes we treat a task, “do this,” as our goal. However, a goal is really the outcome we want. Doing a task is taking a step that will help get you to your goal. The following four steps will help you set a more meaningful goal (and, yes, you can follow the steps for any goal, not just finding your keys).
How to Set a Small Goal
Now, when you find yourself walking into your home, with your arms full of grocery bags and the mail and a kid (or spouse) asking what’s for dinner, your goal, not just the task of hanging up your keys, will float through your mind. Instead of thinking, “I’ll hang up my keys later,” you’ll think, “Wait, tomorrow I’ll want to leave the house feeling calm,” and that goal may be the incentive you need.
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