Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Newbie Guide: Setting Goals

It really bothers me sometimes how directionless many guys are these days, particularly those in their early and mid 20s. By your late 20s or early 30s there's really no excuse for not having an answer when I ask you what you're looking for in a relationship, or even if you're interested in traditional relationships in the first place. My point is this:

How can anyone help you find success in life if you don't know what you want out of it? 

Don't get me wrong, I was pretty much the same when I was that age, but then again I didn't have the benefit of online blogs, social networking, and all of the wisdom the internet has to offer that it does today. As such, here's my contribution. It works just as well for improving fitness as it does for getting women or earning a degree:

Setting Goals

Be specific
Write down goals in specific detail so you can clearly see what you plan to attain and how to achieve it. State exactly what you want and how you plan to get the results you seek, such as who can help and what training you may require.
What? What do you want to accomplish (short & long term)? Where? Identify locations & venues you will do the activities.
When? Establish time frames for short & long term goals. What is your target date? Who? Who can help you reach your goals? Do you seek mentoring, expert advice, or wings to help you in field?

Establish metrics to track your progress. Keep a documented record of your successful steps toward your goals.
How many? Do you have a goal of approaching a certain amount of women per day/night/week/month/year?
How long? Do you have a goal of spending a specific amount of time meeting women?

Tracking your successes can help encourage you to keep going and give you solid feedback on our efforts and whether something is working or not. The best strategy for sticking to goals is to keep track of your progress on a daily basis by writing it down every day. This very act of writing down activities/steps taken has been shown to improve results and to encourage consistency. It allows you to learn more about your habits, stay accountable to yourself, and keep track of any progress or slips.
A good record includes the following:
  • Type of activities.
  • How long you spent doing that activities.
  • Intensity of the effort. Did you push your own boundaries or did you play it safe?
  • Comments about any difficulties to help you in problem solving for the future.
Are the goals reasonable and achievable in the time allotted?

Staying on track
Maintaining progress is one of the hardest challenges when trying to make changes to your life, whether it be changing a habit, fitness, or improving your communication skills. Getting started can be difficult, but staying committed is even harder. The key to successfully navigating obstacles to maintaining your progress is to acknowledge slips will happen despite your best efforts to plan for them. The key is to build consistencies and a regular schedule and to get back on that horse as soon as you get thrown off. There are several things you can do to help stay on target:
  1. Keep it meaningful! Continue to remind yourself of the personal benefits you'll get when you achieve your goals. Setting and keeping meaningful goals that are realistic and attainable will increase the likeliness of success. You are much more likely to strive towards a goal you care about and feel close to accomplishing.
  2. Reward yourself! Rewards increase the likelihood that you will do it again. When you reach a metric give yourself a reward. Create rewards for both short-term and long-term goals.
  3. The earlier you catch slips the better. If caught early a slip does NOT have to signal an inevitable downward spiral. Again, slips are inevitable and accepting that and moving on when they happen is the best course of action. The most important thing to do when slips occur is to not let it turn into a string of slips or affect your new habits and collapse your changes in behavior you've been working towards.
  4. Have a plan for dealing with slips. Again, don’t wait to initiate corrective actions. The most important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible. Do NOT wait until Monday or the beginning of the month to "start fresh".
Learn from the past. You an identify many of these slips from past experience. Think back and identify situations in which you remember having a particularly difficult time sticking to your plan.
Plan in advance. When you know similar situations are coming (i.e. holidays, family vacations, etc), start planning for how to deal with them in advance. If you wait until you are in the midst of the situation you are not likely to come up with an effective solution. Use the information from past struggles to guide your planning and identify past hurdles that will need to be overcome.

The measures of success are not whether there are dips in your progress, but whether overall you are progressing in spite of occasional slips.

Having standards and screening for them
Once you’ve got an idea of what your goals are the next step is to figure out how to screen for them. An example is if you wanted a woman who could cook, is to ask her if she cooks. If she does, by all means tell her that’s great and add in some kino to punctuate the point. If a woman ever complies with your request but doesn’t live up to your standard, be sure to validate her compliance. Never punish compliance even if it’s not the answer or response you were looking for. Instead either shrink the hoop or qualify her on another topic that’s of interest to you. Don't freak out, I'll be covering Qualification in detail pretty soon.