Experiment on achievement: Small daily goals or big ongoing goals?

What works better for achieving something important? A big goal over a long period of time or smaller daily goals? My vote is for smaller daily goals because they help you take consistent action…and you have daily achievements to savor instead of having to wait a long time to say you achieved your goal. I like yoga. I also like yoga challenges. I decided to do an experiment. For my first challenge I wanted to do 30 yoga sessions in 30 days. I achieved that goal. This first yoga challenge was so engaging that I undertook a second one four months later…this challenge was different. Instead of focusing on a month time period I would focus on a day. My goal was to do 2 yoga sessions “this day” and see what I would end up with. What I ended up with was doing 30 yoga sessions in 15 days. The focus on “just this day” yielded 15 achievement moments to celebrate and achieving more sessions than the last challenge…by far. Perhaps you can think about setting goals in new ways…what can be done this day?

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 I wanted to do more than I did last time. I was trying to figure out what I should do…30 sessions in 20 days? 40 sessions in 30? More than 30 in less than 30 days again? With being gone traveling for 4 days and having visitors for a couple of weekends I was losing many days. So if I wanted to do more than I had in the first challenge I would have to double up. Because of this my thinking shifted. My goal this time would not be the overall time period or total number of sessions but to focus on each day…2 sessions in a day. My thought is that it will add up to exceed my goal. Instead of the big focus I am doing the small focus.

This daily challenge presents it’s own complications. Two times a day is a lot. It requires about 3 hours each day. Also, I had some lower back pain…not good for the start of a challenge. The thought that was entering my mind at the start of this next challenge was to either not do my daily yoga and biking to heal my back strain or to plow through and do the challenge. I decided to plow though. This time though I am more mindful of what I needed to do to improve my back. I used the yoga as treatment. I focus on the “laying down on your belly leg raising poses” like locust that are great for strengthening the lower back. I focus on the core. Those front and back muscle strengtheners help. I just don’t flop down into any bends or side angle poses like I do. Sometimes my own flexibility can be a challenge. I go slower and let the muscles engage to support.

It is also challenging because it is familiar now. When I started and did the first challenge the yoga studio, the people, and the poses were new. The new excitement factor has worn off. Everything is more comfortable and familiar. The external sources of motivation were not as high so I would have to find it more internally. This is why the “this day” approach to the goal achievement was needed.

The outcomes of the two-a-day challenge are mostly time and social related. It is nice to have about 3 hours of each day accounted for with something positive and social. It is nice to do things with people. It is nice to have a challenge in your life. These are very simple things but often forgotten.

Of the people that I mentioned the two-a-day challenge too, few thought that two-a-day yoga is that helpful. They don’t think yoga should be utilized like a physical challenge. I don’t know either. Your body is never really ready to do it’s best work. You are always conserving energy. You never hit any of the poses in a yoga journal cover moment that make you feel great. You don’t look as good. Maybe the lesson is marathon style…to be OK at 80% though I am a 100% making moments memories type of guy.

I think this yoga challenge made me more effective at work. I have to be effective because I only have a certain amount of time to work with all of this yoga happening! Plus I think the yoga chills me out. Less thinking and more just doing well.

What big goal would you like to achieve? Is it some sort of challenge related to your health perhaps? What goal can you shift to a “just this day” action focus? What can you do today?

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