Nice Goal! But What’s In It For You?

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I need to go shopping. I know, that’s not something men say very often. But I need a suit. One that actually fits. I’ve got plenty of jackets with non-matching pants, but the buttons won’t close and the pants are mix and match. You know, like navy blue against plaid, or vice-versa. Fashion has never been my thing. My wife can attest to that.

I’ve been talking about buying a suit for years. “When I finally lose this weight, I’m gonna buy myself a nice suit.” It finally occurred to me that, if I’d just bought the suit the first time I thought about it, the damn thing would still fit, and it would probably be worn out by now. Can I get an amen?

How often do we do that? We condition one goal on another, as some sort of reward for doing something we know deep down we’ll never do. But who wants to buy a nice suit right before they lose weight? Then you just have to give it away and go buy another one. Boo-hoo! I doubt many women would even give that a moment of thought. “I lose weight AND get to go shopping? Yeah!”

So, as a consequence, I’ve spent the past 20 years going to dressy functions looking like I just stepped out of the Goodwill store. And, for good reason. I think that’s exactly where most of my suit jackets came from. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, or shopping at Goodwill. They’re in pretty good shape. And, according to my wife, thirty years ago they were right in style.

But let’s be honest. Men’s fashions don’t change much. From year to year, they pretty much stay the same. Okay, the powder-blue leisure suit I wore for my high-school senior picture is a little dated, and the white shoes & belt would draw a few laughs. But the jeans I buy today look exactly like the ones I bought in 1976. They’re just a lot bigger.

Okay, back to the original point – conditioning something we want on a goal we may or may not ever achieve. We think it’s motivating. Doctors even feed us that crap. “Promise yourself you’ll buy a new article of clothing for every ten pounds you lose.” Okay, but do I have to return it when I gain the weight back? I’ve lost the same ten pounds a hundred times. Give me a break!

There is something to be said for dangling a carrot on a stick, especially when you’re trying to do something challenging or unpleasant. And let’s be real, dieting is not at the top of our list of dreams. Losing weight, sure. That’s the pleasant part. I tried telling myself that if I’d eat right for six months, I’d reward myself with a lower bathroom scale reading. The scale had other ideas.

Now, ask me if I actually ate right for six months. No, don’t. We both know the answer to that one. I know what I need to do, but doing it takes a little more willpower. And that’s especially true when the reward part isn’t materializing the way we’d planned. “Ten pounds this month, ten pounds next month, nine the month after that, by Christmas I’ll be back in onesies!” Right.

Rewards are an important part of goals as long as the goal is realistic, and the reward is proportional to the effort. A new car may motivate you to make a few phone calls to build your business, but if those phone calls only net an extra $4 profit, that’s not going to buy much of a car. On the other hand, it’s not realistic to think a few extra phone calls will quadruple your income.

But a couple of phone calls a day, over the span of a few months, could set the wheels in motion for something much bigger than you’d ever imagined. A couple of hours each week learning a new skill could put you in line for a promotion later in the year. And, according to my doctor, if I lose a pound a week, I’ll eventually get to my goal weight. Too bad I didn’t start that two years ago.

It’s the small changes that make the biggest difference. But we have to repeat them every day, without fail. That takes patience. It takes faith. It takes constantly reminding ourselves why we’re doing it in the first place. And that’s where the reward comes in. What will YOU get out of this? What will be YOUR reward when it’s all over?

Get a picture of that reward and hang it someplace you’ll see it several times every day. And if you need a suit sooner or your car dies before you reach that goal, do what you have to do. But keep working toward the goal. Find another reward, something even better. Now that you know how to achieve those rewards, the sky is the limit!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved