Trusting the process.

Trusting the process.

I used to be a big believer in setting SMART goals—the specific, measurable, actionable kind. (e.g., decrease my mile time from 9:30 to 9:10 by July 1, 2016.)

But a few years ago I made a startling discovery. After that I mostly quit making SMART goals, and instead began tracking my participation in certain areas—health, fitness, writing, reading. I committed to take certain steps every day, with zero regard for the results.

I found that when I began simply tracking these activities—holding myself accountable to doing these small and medium tasks everyday—the results took care of themselves. And I enjoyed the process so much more.

Now when I set goals, I focus on the process (which I can control), not the outcome (which I can’t).

This has been on my mind lately because one of my big-picture goals for 2016—or rather, one of the things I’m NOT doing this year—is to NOT blow off the things I know are good for me.

My body has been creaky and complainy lately (long story) and the list of things I know are good for me has gotten pretty long. Get my daily 10,000 steps. Do my stretches. Eat my veggies. Take my vitamins. Drink my supplement. Take a reading break. Turn the lights out at 10:00 p.m. And more.

These punch list items aren’t arduous or complicated, but there are a lot of them—too many for me to easily keep track of—and I’ve been continually running through a long checklist in my head, making sure I’m not forgetting anything, making sure I’m getting it done. If they were deeply ingrained habits, this would be a cinch—but they’re not, not yet.

The self-care process is taking up a lot of mental space (and I know I’m vulnerable to decision fatigue).

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m revisiting the method that worked so well for me a few years ago. I reloaded the Commit app on my phone, and plugged in all the tiny little tasks I need to do every day, and told the app when to remind me to do them. (This app is a nice combination of my home-cooked productivity tracker and Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret, plus push notifications and a nifty chart that shows you how long your successful streak is.)

Have I accomplished anything yet? Not really. I have nothing to show for my efforts except a little less storage space on my phone.

And yet I finally feel like I’m ready to do this thing that’s so important to me this year: To NOT blow off my health, just because I’m not paying attention.

How do YOU stay on top of the things that are too small to hit your to-do list put too important to forget? 

P.S. Not an app person? Try this analog tracker instead.

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53 comments

  1. Kelly in CA says:

    I have found that focusing on what you can control rather than outcomes is quite freeing! I left the work force 11 yrs ago for business school and then started a family and stayed home. Now, I am looking for a job and rather than set a goal of “Get a job by March 31”, my goals are “Attend 1 networking event every 2 wks”, “Reach out to 2 new people a week” and “Apply to 5 jobs a week”.

    These are all things I can control, which is satisfying because I feel like I’m doing my best when I achieve them, even if I don’t get a job offer that week. I learned this method in “The 12 Week Year” by Brian Moran, which I highly recommend for guidance in how to move strategically toward your (or your organization’s) goals!

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