Confidence Hack #4: Reflect on the Past Year and Set the Bar for the Next
One of the main obstacles to feeling good about ourselves and to having self-respect is the fact that we often don’t follow through on what we promise to ourselves that we will do. We set these great plans about things that we want to achieve and that are good for us—be it exercising more, saving more, spending time with family.
But we end up giving up on many of these goals. What’s more—we end up disappointing ourselves. And such feelings easily translate into unfavorable self-talk and negative self-image. Our self-esteem starts to erode as well.
So, how can we not let ourselves down?
The goal-setting theory tells us that we are more likely to accomplish what we’ve planned if we know what we want to achieve and remind ourselves daily of it. It will aid us see it through—be it personal or work projects, goals, or the attempts to re-frame the mental picture of ourselves.
One of the main reasons why our goals fail is that we often set the big target (scientist call it macro goal), but we don’t break it down into smaller, easier achievable sub-goals (micro goals). That is, we don’t have a step-by-step plan of how to get to our desired outcome. We want the big shiny trophy but only have a high-level idea of how to get it.
So, one of the first things we should do to prevent failing is to write down our micro goals.
But only this is not enough. We have to set up a schedule—the things we’ll commit to do to get to a successful end. For instance—go to the gym 3 days a week, put aside 100 bucks from each paycheck, read 20 pages from a book each day. Whatever it is, it must be measurable and specific, so that we can track our progress.
And starting is often the hardest part. Finding ways to keep ourselves accountable is often key in this stage. But once we start, over time, we’ll build the habit. We’ll keep going, inching every day towards our big goal. Scientist tell us that it generally takes about 21 days to form a new habit. So, in 21 days, it will all ease out and we’ll be able to spend our mental energy on another undertaking.
Don’t overload on goals, though. This is another fallacy that we often trap ourselves into—that the “better me” needs to have many goals to be able to improve and grow.
But often, the main obstacle to achieving a goal is the other goals we have—a notion, known as “goal competition.” So, less may be more when it comes to New year’s resolutions—to avoid frustration and plunge in confidence.
And don’t forget to reward yourself for each task completed—keep the dopamine flowing—it’s proven to increase our energy and the motivation to have the big goal reached.
Finally, an end-of-day reflection and self-feedback is quite essential—an item which Ben Franklin called “examination of the day” in his famous calendar. Handwriting our daily goals is better too, as it keeps our minds more invested and committed to them than typing.
Yes, goals are not easy to accomplish—they require time, planning, being up for the challenge to do the job, and careful tracking. But oh, does it feel good when we achieve them! When we prove to ourselves that we are exactly the individuals we always knew we were!
Or, as Aristotle taught us centuries ago:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”