To set a goal is to focus your mind toward a reality that does not yet exist. It requires you to let go of the idea of yourself as you are now–it is an act requiring imagination and discipline.
Goals fail all the time. Let’s think about why, and consider how we can avoid the pitfalls en route to what we dream of achieving.
Reason #1: Motivation wanes
Motivation is the fuel to the fire. Reaching goals is always hard work – it requires us to change, and even positive change can be really hard. Your goals can provide some degree of motivation, but they have to be REALLY compelling if the path to reach them isn’t very fun. Your goals don’t have to be as seductive if you enjoy the path to reaching them.
Solution: my number one recommendation is to stick to goals whose processes you enjoy. The path to the goal is related to the goal itself. If you do not enjoy the path, you will not truly enjoy the achievement of the goal. If you want to one-arm handstand so badly, but you hate training handstands 10 hours a week, choose a different goal, because this one is probably holding you back from more rewarding paths.
If you want to be in alignment with your highest self and soul purpose, choose goals that feed you while you’re pursuing them, not just in the moment you achieve them. Let go of your fantasy of the outcome and fall in love with the process.
Reason #2: Clear goal, unclear plan
If you don’t have a clear plan to follow, you can work really hard and end up with no results. For example, since 2018 my contortion practice has been haphazard. Have I still worked really hard when I did train? Yes…has my flexibility improved? Not really. In order for the hard work I put into my training to lead to real change, I need to be consistent and have a logical training plan. Having a loose idea of what you want and no clear, detailed plan is only going to lead to wasted energy and a much higher chance of becoming demoralized or injured.
Solution: create a plan that will support you in training consistently and logically. When I had loose aspirations, I don’t get anywhere. But when I started getting really systematic about my goals and training, I achieved my goals without fail. I’ve spent years refining my process so that I know exactly how to set and reach my goals.
It’s also important to know that it’s okay if life changes and interrupts your goals. Goals are not everything. Having a backup plan for when you have less time or energy will help you maintain your strength and abilities until you have a chance to work toward new goals again.
Reason #3: The goal is not right for you
This was a discussion we had earlier in 2021 about failure. a critical question that came up was, how do you know if failure means you need to try harder or shift your strategy, and when it actually is trying to tell you that this path is not for you?
There isn’t a formula for answering this question, but aerialist Carmen Parcelli had a great point:
If you have put in ungodly amounts of preparation and still fail (maybe a couple of times), then I think that the lesson may be that whatever you are trying to do is not for you. Sometimes I have failed at things (most notably relationships) because deep down I knew they were really not right for me.
- Did you REALLY try your hardest?
- Did you REALLY prepare properly?
- Do you REALLY want this with your whole heart?
- Did you *honestly* put in ungodly amounts of preparation?
It could be that a goal is making you rigid, and so you’re being shut down until you discover what needs to be different.
Solution: think broadly about your desires in life, and make sure that your goals are not interfering with what your soul really wants. Do you really want a meathook, or does your physical energy belong with some other kind of movement?
Imagine how it feels to have achieved the goal. Is it satisfying? Or underwhelming? Are you willing to maintain this goal? Where can you go from here? If you detect a shred of ego in your goal, it is possible that you don’t truly desire it. if your reasons are not deeply rooted in genuine inspiration and love, it is probably not important enough to you to work hard for – turn to something else!
In aerial and other creative movement arts, there is NO need to fixate on one goal. There are SO many amazing skills to be excited about. Don’t get mired in one that you’re not actually all that into!
As you know, we tend to get more excited at the turn of the new year, which brings a fresh and exciting energy. There is a trap here, as that energy is temporary. To not get caught in the trap, you have to be able to build on the energy of the new year without being dependent on it. Your relationship with your goals needs to be strong and clear enough to persist well beyond January.
This brings me back to the first point: set things up in such a way that you love the process of achieving your goals. Set things up so that the moment of achievement is equally joyful to the journey that led up to it.
To support you in this journey, I have created a 90-day program that gives you a clear path for setting and tracking goals and upgrading your approach to training. This program has a strong emphasis on rest and self care and comes with community support as well as Q&A with me. Because I offer systems and templates for you to work with, works for you no matter what apparatus you train. We begin January 1st! Learn more here.
I wish you a new year full of play, connection, and creative inspiration. Keep up the hard work and continue to bring your beautiful energy to each moment.