Yesterday, I revealed one of my favorite contrarian strategies for success: I call it Lowering The Bar.
As a coach for over two decades, I can say with certainty that setting big goals and missing them has become an unchecked epidemic in the US.
Let me tell you why:
- Successful people are willing to put in the work. But secretly they feel defeated when they miss the mark on the goals they set for themselves.
- Successful people conveniently forget that THEY CREATED THE GOAL and then they beat themselves up when they fail to meet or exceed it (reducing their mental well-being, and reducing productivity).
- Successful people inaccurately believe that if they set the bar high they will be inspired to go for it. (For the most part, this is complete crap.)
- Successful people never fully acknowledge their success, fearing that if they do they will not be motivated anymore and will lose their ‘mojo.’
None of this is true. In fact, these phenomena are the fuel behind the frustration, fear, doubt and the mental turbulence plaguing some of the most effective and talented people I know.
I am betting you are plagued by this too.
Can we do a little be honest? Setting a goal that sets you up for failure is insane. Setting goals to do more than you did last time, sounds like a good idea until you realize it’s an arbitrary standard you are holding yourself to. Who said you have to continually make more, do more and be more?
If that’s the way you relate to life, you will die unsatisfied and frustrated. You will never experience the pure joy of being in the moment, satisfied and delighted with every aspect of your life.
The truth is when I present this strategy, most people recoil at first. It is understandable, given everything we see out there is “dream big!” “go for it!” “increase your production!” ” do more…!”
The drive for more, more, more is literally sucking the creativity, curiosity and mental freedom out of people who have so much to offer, but who have burned the candle at both ends so long, they are spent.
What about you?
Would you be up for Lowering The Bar, and experiencing first-hand the power of this strategy to be more successful now?
Here are some examples of ways that I’ve Lowered the Bar, and reaped the incredible rewards of accomplishment and satisfaction (which in turn fueled my sense of joy, happiness, and fulfillment)!
Meditation: Instead of forcing myself to meditate for 30 to 60 minutes a day like I wanted to, I Lowered The Bar and committed to 1 minute a day. Three long breathes. That was my standard. Over time, the sense of accomplishment I gained from lowering the bar caused me to start meditating for hours on end when my schedule allowed. All in all, I had a streak of well over 700 days of hitting my one minute standard for meditation. Yeah, baby!
Yoga: I’d been missing yoga but wasn’t able to make it to class as often as I wanted and it was starting to bum me out. Lowering The Bar to the rescue! What did I do? I made a promise to myself to do 8 minutes. Just 8 minutes before bed. What a difference in my mindset! Today my streak is going strong. I am feeling great, accomplished and eager to hit my yoga goal every night. (One night I was exhausted, but I promised to keep my promise. I went over to the mat and got into Shavasana – known as the corpse pose – where you lay flat on your back. Since I gave myself permission to do Shavasana for 8 minutes, suddenly I got the energy to do a few poses. Lowering The Bar worked again!)
Finances: Kristen and I decided to massively Lower The Bar on our cost of living. We live a pretty big life, and over the past 9 months, we’ve systematically Lowered The Bar on all kinds of things. First, we got rid of a car, massively cutting our expenses. Now, when Kristen gets into our 2015 Kia Minivan she smiles a how cheap it is to lease, maintain and insure. We loved the Mercedes GL 450. But we really love the Kia!
(Contrarian Update: Our goal is to have no car in 2 years and 3 months when the Kia lease is up. Lowering The Bar again!)
Housing: Last summer we massively Lowered The Bar on our housing. Look, we live in a great house. And, by moving 10 minutes “out” we saved one-third on our monthly housing AND cut our electric and other utilities… Some by half. By releasing our attachment to living in a certain neighborhood, we Lowered The Bar on what it costs to run our lives. Today we get so much inspiration from not having to work so darn hard to cover our nut. The result? Now that we are both feeling better about our finances, things are flowing financially. That’s not to say that we don’t have financial challenges. We do. And, by Lowering The Bar, we eliminated the unconscious stress that came from having to drive, push and work to make it all work.
These are just a few of the moves which have created a profound sense of accomplishment in our lives.
In a nutshell: Accomplishment breeds accomplishment. Satisfaction breeds satisfaction. You get what you focus on.
If you focus on “hot dang, I hit my goal again!” after doing 8 minutes of yoga, you will benefit from a surge of accomplishment energy.
If instead, you focus on what you didn’t do. “Damn it! I didn’t make it to yoga, again!” you will suffer needlessly at the effect of your own goal setting madness.
Thinking you can mentally beat yourself and feel better about your goals is like squeezing an orange and expecting lemonade to come out. Illogical and slightly insane.
Look, I want you to have an amazing life – whatever that means for you.
Today I encourage you to STOP setting such big goals. Cut it out. Lower The Bar, and celebrate the victories in your life over and over and over. What you’ll discover is that in the process you begin to achieve more simply because you are in a feel good, motivated and accomplished state.
It’s the fastest way to be more successful, now!
I highly recommend it.