On Friday, I wrote about Nora Ephron’s five words. Just as our five words are constantly changing, our goals are also changing too. The goals I had when I was 18 years old were completely changed by the time I was 28 years old. And the 38 year old me has totally different goals now then ten years ago. But when I reflect back over the last twenty years, I notice an interesting pattern. Changing my goals mentally was far easier than changing my goal behaviorally. For example, I was still looking for musician jobs long after I knew that I really didn’t want to be a musician anymore. And even more recently, I found myself picking up new t-shirts at the store the other day even though I’ve already decided that I want to broaden my wardrobe a little bit.
The reality is that changing our behavior is way more challenging then changing our minds. I can come up with a million and one reasons why I don’t have time to exercise today, rather than simply putting on my sneakers and walking for twenty minutes. Habits are difficult to break, even habits that support goals that we no longer have. I continued to behave as a musician long after I knew I no longer really wanted to be one. Is that a problem? Well, yes, it is. Because the only way to achieve our new goals is to work towards them. But we can’t work towards our new goals if we’re still working towards our old ones. It’s not enough to simply decide that your new goal is to be a chef. After you set your new goal, you must then take on the behaviors of someone who wants to be a chef. After all, you’ll probably find it a bit difficult to become a chef if you are still going to school for accounting.
Our goals are evolving just as we do. And it’s important to always be thinking about our goals and adjusting them as needed. But once we change our goals, we must also change our behaviors to ensure that we are working towards our new goals instead of towards our old ones.