All It Takes Is A Goal

ATG 2: Stuck On The Starting Line

January 18, 2021 Jon Acuff Season 1 Episode 2
All It Takes Is A Goal
ATG 2: Stuck On The Starting Line
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All It Takes Is A Goal
ATG 2: Stuck On The Starting Line
Jan 18, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2
Jon Acuff

Buckle up, this one’s a firehose. Here’s what’s inside this episode: 1. How to use the phrase “I’ve always wanted to” as an easy way to find a new goal. 2. How to turn your goal into a race you can win. 3. How to pick a goal out of all your different options.

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Order Soundtracks, Jon's newest book available wherever you find quality books!

Show Notes Transcript

Buckle up, this one’s a firehose. Here’s what’s inside this episode: 1. How to use the phrase “I’ve always wanted to” as an easy way to find a new goal. 2. How to turn your goal into a race you can win. 3. How to pick a goal out of all your different options.

Follow Jon on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Order Soundtracks, Jon's newest book available wherever you find quality books!

Jon Acuff:

I can't explain how excited I am to have sponsors for this podcast, because that means that I get to make a lot more episodes. So, about six months ago, a friend of mine at Medi-Share reached out and said, "Hey, let's have a phone call and see if we're both cool." That's not exactly what her email said, but that was the gist. We wanted to check in and see if either one of us was working on something cool. And if it made sense to partner together. It was an awesome conversation where we kicked around a ton of ideas. And then toward the end of the call, he said, Hey, do you have anything new coming out that you'd like help with? At which point I said, as a matter of fact, I have a brand new podcast!" Fast-forward one global pandemic, and today I get to tell you about my friends at Medishare.com. Now we all know that health care costs are a challenge for most Americans. But what you may not know is that members of Medi-Share save up to 50% or more per month on their health care costs. You heard me right. Their monthly health care costs are cut in half, just by switching to Medi-Share. The typical family saves up to $500 per month. Health care was one of the things that scared me the most when I decided to start my own business and work full-time for myself. Jenny used to joke, sort of, "Hey, Jon, um, make sure you don't get hurt out of network. We can't really afford that." You know you're in trouble when your health care plan is, "Hey, just try to be extra careful when you leave Nashville." If this is the first time you're hearing about Medi-Share, here's a quick summary: It is an affordable ministry-based alternative to health insurance that allows members to share one another's medical bills, offers access to 900,000+ health care providers and has a proven 25 year track record. A quarter-century of expertise is one of those things that helps you sleep a lot better at night. They have a huge community of over 400,000 members nationwide, that is there for you when you need it the most. If you're a mom, a dad, a small business owner, a single adult, or a senior,Medi-Share has an affordable health care option that will work for your budget. Medi-Share is not insurance and their members say it's better. I agree. Now if you want to start saving hundreds of dollars per month, you need to take a look at Medi-Share. It only takes two minutes to see how much you could save. Health care can be a confusing, scary, isolating, and expensive experience. But it doesn't have to be. Check out Medi-Share today. To quickly see your savings with Medi-Share. Text JON, that's J-O-N to 474747. There's no H in Jon. I just want to point that out again. It's text J-O-N to 474747. J-O-N to 474747. And huge thank you to Medi-Share for being my very first podcast sponsor. That means the world to me. Hey, everyone, and welcome to the All It Takes Is A Goal podcast. I'm your host Jon Acuff and I love goals. Why? Because a goal is the fastest path between where you are today, and where you want to be tomorrow. And best of all, finishing a goal feels amazing. You will never forget the first time you hold a book you finish writing. You will never forget the moment you cross the finish line of a 5K race. You will never forget when someone paid you to do something you love doing. That's why restaurants have their first dollar bill framed behind the cash register. They did it. They finished. I want that feeling for you. I want you to have that moment. Not just once, not just twice, but like a billion times. I want to help you cross the finish line of whatever goal you care about. Because the future belongs the finishers. That's why I'm doing this podcast. Last week, we talked about how to do scary things. If you missed that episode, make sure you go back and listen to it, it was a blast. In today's episode, I'm going to teach you how to start a goal. That's a popular topic, especially at the beginning of the new year. Everyone is talking about New Year's resolutions and starting is important. You can't finish things you don't start, after all. That seems real obvious, doesn't it? But I promise you, I meet people all the time who are spending their entire lives stuck on the starting line. I often meet them when they find out that I write books for a living. That's one of the perks of being a writer. When you meet someone at a dinner party and they ask you what you do. You get to say, "Oh, I'm an author." And they always want to know more. I don't think that ever happens if...if you're the Mid-Atlantic Logistics Manager for a fastener company in Delaware. I could...I could be wrong. I could definitely be wrong. Maybe there are people who say, "Whoa, did you say...did you say fasteners? Oh, I've always been a connection guy. I love the way things connect. Tell me more." When people find out that you're an author, they respond in one of two general ways. Number one, they say, "What's something you've written that I would have heard of?" Or number two, they say, "I've always wanted to write a book." The first response is always a little bit humiliating, because it feels like they're saying to you, "Name the most successful thing you've ever done. And then I'll let you know if I've ever heard of it." And you know, in your heart of hearts, they they haven't. You know, that deep down, like, you are aware of that, but you still have to answer the question. And so you respond with your most popular book. They scrunch up their face and go, "[Clicks tongue] Nope, never heard of it. I guess you and I have different definitions of the word 'successful.'" It's a weird question when you think about it, because you, you never meet a lawyer and say, "Tell me the biggest court case that you've won. Johnson v. Thomas. Nope. I'm drawing a blank. Don't know that one." I'm just going to start telling people that I wrote Eat, Pray, Love. "Yeah. Elizabeth Gilbert is my pen name. We chose Julia Roberts to play me in the movie because we both have similar eyes. Yeah. If you look closely, I have what doctors call 'Julia Roberts eyes.'" The second thing someone says when they find out you write books is, "I have always wanted to write a book!" And then they tell you about their book idea. That phrase is interesting to me. "I've always wanted to..." How would you finish that sentence? How would you finish that statement? "I've always wanted to blank." What are the things you've always wanted to do? That question is fun to answer. The next question, though, is a bit harder. So why...why haven't you? If you've always wanted to write a book, if you've always wanted to start a business, if you've always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, if you've always wanted to learn Italian, if you've always wanted to cook, or garden or paint or move to Colorado or anything, why...why haven't you? Do you ever feel stuck on the starting line? You showed up at the race. The dude with the starting pistol has fired it. He fired it, like, 10 years ago. Every other runner has taken off, but you haven't moved. And so instead, you say, "I've always wanted to blank." I want us to retire that phrase. That's the goal of today's episode, I want us to dig it a shallow grave and bury it in our past. I don't want you to say, "I've always wanted to." I want you to say, "I just did!" I love that sentence! "I just did!" That sentence is a lot more fun. And it's easier to say if you think about your goal like a race. That's the metaphor we've been using today, so let's stick with it. Let's say that your goal is to read more. Reading more is a goal that a lot of people have. Leaders are readers after all. Maybe you've said in the past, "I've always wanted to read more." If you're going to start that goal, and actually make some progress on it, I would tell you to think about it like a race. And then we would break that down into some steps because steps are sexy. The longer you listen to this podcast, the more you're going to see me trying to take a complex thing and break it down to its simplest form and get some real steps that we can do that you can actually work on. So step one, if you're going to get off the starting line, if you're going to think about your goal like a race, step one would be find the starting line and the finish line for your goal. You'd never show up on race day without knowing where the starting line is. "I'm just gonna go downtown and see if I can find a group of people wearing really tiny athletic shorts that look like they know what they're doing." You'd know exactly where the starting line is, and the finish line. Imagine running a race without knowing where it ended. That would be the most frustrating race ever. When you start a new goal, you have to pick the starting line and the finish line. I wouldn't say, "I want to read more." That's too vague. I'd say, "Starting on February 1 and ending on February 28. I'm going to see how many books I can read in a month." That's a great goal. Starting line, finish line. Second thing you need, you need to figure out the rules. In a marathon, the rules are pretty simple. You can't ride a bike during the race. You can't wear rollerblades, although I will say that our neighborhood had a real rollerblade outbreak this, this summer. I think it was a 2020 thing. They, just, rollerblades are popping up left and right. You also can't take the subway during the race. You can't take shortcuts outside of the official race course. There are rules. You know the best part of starting a personal goal? You're in charge of the rules! You get to make all the rules. If I was going to see how many books I could read in a month, I would come up with a few simple rules for myself. For instance, audiobooks count. You might disagree, but guess what? I don't...I don't care. I make the rules for the Jon Acuff Personal Reading Challenge. I'm Jon Acuff. It's right there on the podcast. Fiction counts. Comic books count. Kids books count. What doesn't count? Well, if I'm already halfway done with a book before the challenge starts, I'm not counting that book. I'm also not going to count articles, podcasts, or long form blog posts. I don't want to get into this mess of trying to decide if 50 blog posts equals a book. Or if I'm listening to a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell, that's kind of like listening to a Malcolm Gladwell audiobook. So no, I don't want to get into that. Figure out a few rules and then move on to step three. Step three is find your Heartbreak Hill. I grew up in Massachusetts and everyone there knew that the worst part of the Boston Marathon was Heartbreak Hill. It's a half mile incline at mile 20. I think what's really interesting about the Boston Marathon was when I was a kid, the boys club would take us down to watch the race. And a lot of people don't know this, all the runners, because it's kind of cold, we'll have all this cool warm up gear, and then they'll take it off right before the race starts. And kids, like they can grab it and you take it home with you. And so like in my town for the next year, you'd see all these little kids wearing like, Kenyan running coats and be like, "Oh, that's right, they must have gone to the race." But people in the Boston Marathon hate the Heartbreak Hill. It's challenging. And here's the thing, every goal has a few Heartbreak Hills. The problem is that we're usually not ready for it. We haven't studied the course. Back to our reading challenge. If I was doing that, I'd take a quick look at the month ahead and find parts of it that we're going to be problematic. For instance, let's say I have a family trip planned during the middle of my read-a-thon. If I'm going to be spending time with my extended family, I can't really have my nose in a book the entire time. Okay, then I better plan to get up early and go running with an audiobook. I can get an hour run in and a big chunk of an audio book done before anyone else gets up. I can also use that challenge, like seeing the Heartbreak Hill coming, to motivate me to read more before the trip. If my goal is to read 100 pages a day, and I know that the week before I go, I'm gonna ramp up my page count, I might try to get to 120 pages a day, knowing that I've got a challenge coming up. Look at the course you're about to run with your goal. What are the challenges you need to be prepared for? If you are doing a diet for instance, if there is a big party that you always over ate at, that's when you would go, "Okay, I'm trying to diet this month. I see a big party on the schedule. I better have a plan for that. That's a Heartbreak Hill. I need to be deliberate. The fourth thing you do? You train. I ran a half marathon once without training. It was terrible. I took forever and wanted to throw up the entire time. And then when it was over, I couldn't get out of the bathtub, like physically. I just couldn't move and it felt like I was dying. Eventually, my wife Jenny said, "Hey, I have to run some errands and you might drown if you stay in there. So if you could just crawl onto the bathroom floor, so I can go to the grocery store that, that would be fantastic." If you don't train for any goal, the goal sucks. That's just always how it goes. It does. How would I trained for reading goal? Well, I'd probably pick out the books that I was going to read before the goals started. I wouldn't want to pause in the middle and have to find new books to read. I'd probably say, "Okay, these are the five I'm going to read." And I'd know before that's like training. I'd plan some fun ones to sprinkle in the middle of business books. I wouldn't set myself up for failure by having like five 1000 page books in a row. I'd have some fun ones in there. I'd have some short ones in there. I'd also look at where my time was going. I might check my screen time on my phone and go, "Wow, I'm spending seven hours a week on Instagram. I'm gonna need to trim that down if I want to have some more time to read." What would it look like for you to train a bit for your goal, before it even starts, do some prep work. The last thing you need to do, number five, track the results. Progress you don't measure doesn't exist. You have to know how you're doing. You'd never run a race without a watch, an app on your phone, or checking the mile markers on the course. You need at least one progress metric that will encourage you to keep going. Make it as simple as you can. You never want the measuring of the goal to take more time than the actual doing of the goal. For the reading example, you could measure the amount of time you read each day. The page count or completed books. I'd personally only measure completed books. That's it, I'd have one big simple number. Why would I keep it so simple? Well, when I do reading goals, I find myself stealing pages here and there. If I have to wait at a doctor's appointment for 17 minutes, I might sneak in a few pages. I don't want to have to keep track of those 17 minutes. It's much easier for me to write down, "I finished reading Seth Godin's book The Practice," than it is to say, "Okay, 17 minutes at the doctor's office. Four minutes waiting for that meaning to start. 90 seconds in line at the grocery store." That's too complicated. Keep your tracking simple. Those are the steps that you have to take to start a new goal. Number one, find the starting line and the finish line. Number two, figure out the rules. Number three, find your Heartbreak Hill. Number four, train a bit. Number five, track the results. But what if you don't even know what you want to do? Maybe that's your challenge. You're not stuck on the starting line. You don't even know which race you want to run. I asked people on Facebook and Twitter, "Why is it so hard to start a new goal?" and one thing that came up constantly was not knowing how to pick a goal. One person said, "One goal leads to me thinking about how there are 75 other things I need to work on as well. So instead of picking one goal, which would be totally achievable, I decided to change everything in my life all at the same time. Then I burn out after about two months." That's actually pretty good. Like, two months is a pretty good... I mean, like burnout for me is usually faster than that. When I pick too many goals, it's usually faster than two months, when I figure out like, I can't do this. Another person said, "I decided to lose weight. I buckled down the budget. I exercise. I keep the house better. I read more, and I started a new volunteer project, and then all of it comes crashing to the ground." Have you ever done that? I did it last June. Every month for the last couple of years, I draw out a 30 or 31 day graph. And then I chart my progress on a series of goals. I'll do a whole episode on that someday. I called June my "June jump" because I am a goal nerd and that is a dorky thing to do, but that's what I did. It was my "June jump." In the month of June, I tried to accomplish and track 19 different goals. Nineteen! That's, that's insane! That's, that's too many. You and I have the tendency of doing this because of what I call the "remodeling trap." Let's say you decide to remodel your kitchen. Nothing major. You just want to switch out the appliances. They're old. They're temperamental, and you hate the shape of the ice that your fridge makes. Why can't every refrigerator make Sonic-shaped ice already? That pellet ice? Best ice in the game. So you decide to get some new appliances. That's easy, right? Well, when you start thinking about it, if you're going to switch out your oven, your microwave, your dishwasher, and your refrigerator, you realize you have to get them all the same size again. Because they have to fit in the same space in your kitchen. And whoever built your house had the most obscure spot for your microwave. It's really tiny, which means you have to choose from only three models since it's such a unique size. Maybe it would be better if you change your cabinets while you're doing this too. That would give you a lot more freedom. And you've always hated those cabinets. None of them close. They're all puckered open and your friends have those drawers that shut themselves. You've experienced that voodoo? You go to close the drawer and the drawer's like, "Whoa whoa whoa, hey! You're too busy to be closing whole drawers. I'll take it on home from here. You go about your day." So now, you're going to change your appliances and your cabinets, but that's it! You are staying on budget. You put your foot down. But when you change your cabinets, it kind of...it kind of messes up your backsplash, which kind of involves your countertop, which kind of makes your sink look weird. You wouldn't change your appliances, cabinets, countertops, and backsplash, but leave that weirdo sink right? So you change that too. Come to think of it, the trim around the window over the sink needs to be updated too and so does the whole window. And don't even get me started on the lighting, the color of the room, or the floors. What started out simply with the thought, "I think we need a new fridge," has suddenly mushroomed into a massive project. The same thing happens with your goals. That's what I call the "remodeling trap." It's like the Give A Mouse A Cookie book series. One thing leads to another thing, which leads to 1000 things, which overwhelms you. It's a classic form of overthinking. Which is, when what you think gets in the way of what you want. You wanted a new fridge. You overthought it and ended up with $100,000 kitchen remodel, which stopped you in your tracks and prevented you from accomplishing your initial, very achievable goal. What's interesting when we bump into this is that we think the solution is, "Okay. If 100 goals is too many, maybe I should just focus on one thing." That feels right, doesn't it? We'll just do the opposite of the "remodeling trap." Instead of picking 100 things to work on. We'll pick one. And that's when we run into what I call the "soulmate trap." Now, we believe there's one perfect goal we should focus on at the exclusion of all else. We have a soulmate goal out there, and as soon as we find it, we'll just [deep sigh] we'll just know. We'll find one true north. Like this perfect goal that guides us for the rest of our lives. I love that idea. It's romantic. It's fuzzy. It's like a Hallmark Christmas movie. My favorite Hallmark Christmas movie, by the way, is the one where the busy single executive has lost sight of the meaning of Christmas. But then a Ryan Reynolds type, not...not Ryan, but like budget Ryan, who is a firefighter, lumberjack, and kindergarten teacher, shows up and teaches her the meaning of Christmas again and they kiss at midnight in the small town she grew up in. Have you seen that one? It's the best. Talk about a lot of pressure. Now in order to start your goal, you just have to pick the perfect goal to work on out of all the available goals in the entire universe. So we try. We look and we look. We interview goal after goal, hoping we'll find one. So let's recap our options. Our options are number one, overthink 1000 goals. Pick too many goals all at once and give up. Or two, overthink one perfect goal and never start. Both of those options are terrible. Let's...let's find a shortcut. What if, just hear me out, what if there's a third option? What if we could land in the middle somewhere? What if we could pick more than one, but less than a million? There's a lot of space between those options. I've tried both options for years. And what I found is that at any given point, I can juggle three to five goals. That number can stretch to 10, depending on the season. But if I get much higher than that, the quality of my performance starts to plummet. Now I know there are a lot of people who preach that you should laser focus on one goal at a time. I like that in theory, but it falls apart in real life. Whose life is that simple that they can focus on one thing at a time? That's why I wrote my first book at 5am. I didn't love getting up early. But I had a full time job, two kids under the age of three, an Atlanta commute which will ruin your life, freelance clients, friends, a small group, and about a billion other obligations. Can you imagine how hard my wife Jenny would have laughed if I said, "Hey, I know you've been home with the kids all week, but I'm going to, I'm going to rent a cabin somewhere in the woods and just kind of listen to nature and write just a lot of adjectives. I'm feeling...I'm in a very adjective space right now." She would have laughed me out the house. I needed to have family goals and writing goals and marriage goals. It's good for you to have goals in more than one area of your life, because you're a multifaceted person. So if you're having trouble picking a perfect all the start, stop looking for one. Pick three to five instead. If you're having trouble narrowing your list of 100 to three to five, pick the first three to five on the list and try them for a month. At the end of the month, you will have made progress on three to five things. You'll know a lot more about what matters to you. And you can go back to your list of 100 and choose again. That's the thing you need to remember. You get to choose again. You're not choosing for the rest of your life. This is today's choice, this week's choice, this month's choice. That's all. You can choose again, if it doesn't work out. That's what I want you to do today. Remember, you get to choose as many times as you want. You get to set your goal up like a race. You get to prepare for the remodeling trap, and the soulmate trap, and ultimately, you get to start. Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you liked it, please review it and subscribe so you don't miss any more. And if you ever find yourself tempted to overthink anything in your life, check out my new book Soundtracks. You can pre-order a copy in the show notes. See you next week. And remember, all it takes is a goal. This episode of the podcast was brought to you by MediShare. Text JON, J-O-N to 474747 for more information. Huge thank you to MediShare for sponsoring it. J-O-N to 474747.

Producer:

Thanks for listening. To learn more about the All It Takes Is A Goal podcast and to get access to today's show notes transcript, and exclusive conte t from Jon Acuff, visit Acuff.me podcast. Thanks again for joini g us. Be sure to tune in next eek for another episode of the A l It Takes Is A Goal podca t.