Experts agree that the key to success is setting a goal.
I see their point. Successful athletes don’t start the season by saying “I’m gonna try pretty hard and see what happens.” Their goal is to win championships.
Setting goals makes perfect sense. But my problem has never been setting goals. My problem is failing to achieve them.
When I was in junior high, I knew the hottest girl in school wouldn’t go to the spring dance with me, so I didn’t ask. Instead, I invited Gloria McNeil, who told me that not only would she not go to the dance with me, but would beat me senseless if I told anybody I’d even asked her out.
Since Gloria was on the wrestling team, I took her advice. A few years later, Mom and Pop waited until I had left the room to start laughing after I told them that as soon as I had my first steady job I was gonna buy a Ford Mustang. I finished college, got a job and bought a Pinto.
I’ve always thought I didn’t reach my goals because I was a loser. But maybe I was just setting my goals too high.
According to Stephen Guise, author of “Mini Habits,” I’d be better off thinking small. Guise says anybody can reach a goal if the goal is small enough.
The key is setting a goal you absolutely know you can achieve. Guise included some goal-setting examples from successful authors.
Stephen King has often said that come rain, shine, sleet or zombie attack, he writes 2,000 “adverb free” words every day. Ernest Hemingway set his his limit at 500 words a day.
For years now I’ve tried to write a novel. I’ve started plenty, but have yet to hit the finish line on the first.
I probably need to scale things back. I’m not sure I can get to 500 words every single day. But I know I can write three.
“See Spot run.” Done. I’m on the way.
Can six words be that hard? Or 65,000? Nah.
Just thinking about shrinking my goals gets me fired up.
Every year I swear I’m gonna read the Bible cover to cover but wind up skipping Leviticus. All those rules give me the sweats. Especially the bans on pork barbecue and shrimp. Maybe I can read Exodus twice and be good.
Dieting is my ultimate goal crusher. I’m not alone. No one likes to be extra chunky, but I don't know anybody who actually enjoys dieting. Mostly because it means cutting down on foods they like to eat.
I get it. But maybe I’ve been setting my diet goals too high. I’m not ready to give up M&Ms, but bet I can go the rest of my life without tasting a yellow one.
And if cutting back on M&Ms is too tough, I might find success with a new diet favored by the celebrities we all admire.
It’s called the reverse diet. On this diet the goal is to eat more instead of less. Reverse dieters – including Kim Kardashian’s personal trainer – swear it works.
Reverse dieters believe that adding calories to your daily diet increases your metabolism until you’re a lean, mean fat-burning machine.
Better yet, you can eat anything you want. Even pork barbecue and shrimp. On the reverse diet – as opposed to the Adam and Eve diet plan – there's no such thing as forbidden fruit.
What could possibly go wrong?
Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org