Sticking to your goals: Lessons from the kitchen sink
Have you ever declared a new goal or resolution for the year, only to find yourself slipping within a week or two?
It happens to the best of us, even with all of our good intentions.
I’ll share with you a few tips that might help you. But first, a quick story.
Yesterday, we had a couple of our friends come over our place for tamales and eggs. One of our friends offered to poach some eggs for us, using our stainless-steel pot.
The poached eggs were delicious! But unfortunately, the cooking process left some caked on egg at the bottom of the pot.
Our friend mixed vinegar and water to soak the pot. A few hours later, Richard tried scrubbing the pot and still had a hard time cleaning it out.
Richard decided to soak the pot some more by putting in something in the pot. (I’m not sure what it was, but when I saw the pot this morning, it was filled with a bluish liquid.)
By the time I got to wash the morning dishes, the egg was still caked on the bottom of the pot!
I poured a little hot water and started scrubbing away. The eggs stubbornly stuck to the bottom.
After putting in some elbow grease, I noticed some of the egg started to come off. So I kept on scrubbing.
After what seemed an eternity, little by little, I started to see specks of shiny steel visible on the bottom of the pot.
But as I continued to scrub, some thoughts started to arise:
- “This is taking too long. I need to get to my office.”
- “This is too hard. My fingers are getting tired.”
- “Why don’t I soak this some more and finish this up later tonight?”
And yet, with each of these thoughts, other thoughts would emerge and take their place:
- “If I don’t clean this now, it’ll just be here later. I might as well do this now.”
- “Yes, this is taking a lot of work, but I can see it’s starting to get clean!”
- “Never leave for tomorrow what can be done today.” (I think I heard this in the Mary Poppins Returns movie we saw the other day.)
I continued to scrub until…voila!, the pot was finally clean!
In my mind, I thought it took me about 30 minutes to scrub this pot.
All in all, I think the whole process only took me 5 minutes.
I share this story because I see this same pattern of thoughts come up when I’ve attempted to achieve some of my goals. You may have experienced this yourself.
You set a goal for yourself with great gusto and determination, saying “This is the year I’m going to do it!”
And then, things happen that you didn’t expect.
It might be harder than you originally imagined. Obstacles may pop up.
All of a sudden, the goal starts to slip away.
That’s where my morning pot scrubbing gave me some insights and lessons to share with you that you might apply when you find it challenging to stick to your goals:
- Expect challenges.
When you go for something new and different in your life, it means you want a change. When you change behaviors or disrupt patterns of how you’re used to being, resistance usually emerges. Expecting challenges merely means you are acknowledging that you might have some humps to overcome along the way. When you expect these, you won’t be surprised if and when the resistance shows up. After two previous attempts to clean the pot, I knew that it might be a little tough when I came to bat. This helped me get mentally ready to scrub away.
- Take baby steps.
When you have a big goal, take some bite-sized chunks by creating micro-goals. Micro-goals are the little goals that add up to your reaching your bigger goal. When you achieve your micro-goals, you get a sense of satisfaction along the way. As I scrubbed the pot, I focused on one tiny area to clean (my micro-goal). After that little area got clean, I moved to the next area. Little by little, your micro-goals add up and help you reach your overall goal.
- Create affirming statements to counter the defeating thoughts.
Resistance will usually try to derail you through negative and defeatist thoughts. “You can do this later,” “You deserve a break,” or “This is too hard, just give it up” are examples of sabotaging thoughts. Come up with affirmations or positive thoughts that remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place and the feeling you’ll have when you achieve your goal.
- Realize that worrying thoughts take more energy than the actual steps you’re taking.
What I thought was 30 minutes of scrubbing actually took me 5 minutes. Negative worrying tends to warp your sense of time. And being in my head about how hard this could be actually used up more of my mental energy than the physical scrubbing it took me to clean the pot. Anticipating what could go wrong or how hard it could be to achieve your goal are energies that you can funnel more productively into achieving your goal itself.
- When you feel like quitting, keep going.
As I scrubbed the pot, I took a few micro-breaks (like 3–5 seconds each). In the few times I stopped, I actually thought about putting the pot aside. But then I said to myself, “Just keep on going. You’ll feel so much better doing this now.” Even if you take a break or a pause, you can always get back on the saddle and pick up where you left off.
And here’s the thing to remember in the midst of all this, and it’s a spiritual Truth:
The goal that you’re wanting to achieve is born from a deeper desire within you to experience and express more Good in your life.
What is that Good you’re wanting to experience in your goal?
For me, cleaning the pot meant seeing beauty in our kitchen and experiencing ease when I needed to cook the next time.
You might have different goals.
If you have a health goal, the Good you desire might be a feeling of vibrancy and vitality in your life.
If you have a career or business goal, the Good you desire might be experiencing more freedom and purpose.
If you have a relationship goal, the Good you desire might be sharing connection and experiencing greater authentic love in your life.
If you have a spiritual goal, the Good you desire might be awakening your own senses to the grandness of Life.
When you recognize and remind yourself of the underlying Good inherent in your goal, you touch the vision of Why you set the goal in the first place.
Your Why can be the greatest motivating force to keep you moving forward.
As we embark on this new year, here is my prayer for you:
May your heart guide you with clarity and joy to experience and to express more Good in your life.
Abundant Blessings, Namaste and Happy New Year!
I’d love to hear if your thoughts about today’s post, and if you have any other tips for sticking to your goals. Let me know by leaving a comment below. Feel free to give some “claps” while you’re at it!
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Originally published at www.abundantgood.com.