You have set your goal(s) for 2021, identified “the why”, created your weekly mini-goals (action plan), and have a few weeks executing your action plan under your belt. Taking the first step can be the hardest part of any journey; however, in goal setting and goal achievement, the first step tends to come more naturally to people. The excitement and anticipation of a new year creates a heightened level of inspiration to develop or transform – providing a jump start or boost in motivation to start your goal achievement journey. What happens, or your actions, once the journey begins will determine your ability to actually achieve the goal that you set out to achieve!
The “It’s Too Easy” Scenario
There are times when we set a personal goal and quickly realize that achievement of said goal will come without much of a change in your daily habits (a.k.a. too easy). We know that our comfort zone is that “warm and fuzzy” place in which we feel 100% safe – leading to a feeling of happiness because we have limited risk/exposure, minimized stressors, and have kept our normal routines intact. However, we also know that NOTHING exceptional comes from time spent in our comfort zone. While we may be able to perform while in our comfort zone, our performance is steady at best.
What do we do when our goal is too easy? The answer is simple; however, the decision we have to make is a bit more difficult! The simple answer – we can either “stay the course” and enjoy the smooth operation of life in our comfort zone, OR we can dive into our stretch zone by modifying our goal so that it presents a higher level of challenge.
Before deciding on your choice (comfort vs. stretch), take a moment to reflect on “the why”. Why did you choose the goal? Why is it important to you? If the goal is truly important to you, the decision is easy – make the necessary modifications to your goal so that you MUST spend time in your stretch zone. Time in our stretch zone leads to the development of new skills OR the strengthening of existing skills and you cannot go wrong with either of those!
The “It’s Too Hard” Scenario
Alright, if our goal is not too easy or not “just right”, that means our goal may be too challenging! We know that our comfort zone is just that, comfortable and we also know that our stretch zone is made up of opportunities that provide just the right amount of challenge. What lies beyond our stretch zone??? The dreaded panic zone!
Challenges that fall in our panic zone take us WAY out of our element – to a point where the negative emotional responses (fear, anxiety, etc.) become paralyzing. Not only are we unable to perform effectively while in our panic zone, the experience in our panic zone may have a negative impact on our ability to perform in both our stretch and comfort zones in the future.
Before determining whether or not your goal is too difficult (panic zone required), take a moment to have an honest self-conversation to determine if (1) the goal is actually too difficult OR (2) we do not want to actually put in the work required to achieve the goal. If you answered #2 – re-read the “Stretch Zone” section of this article and reaffirm why this goal is important to you.
If you answered #1, that does not mean you have to automatically give up on that goal or make drastic changes to make the goal easier to achieve. In the event that a goal seems too difficult, follow the process outlined below before giving up on it:
- Spend 2 to 3 weeks working as hard as you can on the daily actions/success habits you identified during your goal setting exercise. Do the best that you can – sometimes it won’t be good enough and sometimes it will; however, in doing your best, you know that you have done everything in your power to progress towards goal achievement.
- If your best is not good enough, ask for support! Adults (teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, or other family members) are going to be more willing to provide some support to help you IF you have put forth your best effort towards achievement. Share your goal and your daily actions/success habits, discuss the challenges you are facing, and have a conversation about how the adult can support you during your journey!
- Continue the hard work and utilize your support systems! Oftentimes, the external support is just the boost we need to get over the hump!
- If your hard work and support system is still not enough to progress towards goal achievement, the goal truly lies in your panic zone and it is time to make some modifications to bring the desired goal back into your stretch zone.
Youth Leadership Development at Empower Adventures
Goal setting and goal achievement planning are two leadership skills that may be included in an Empower Leadership program or training for youths. Combining leadership “theory” with hands-on experiences help youths learn new leadership and team skills while helping them develop strategies for applying those skills to their day-to-day routines. Theory + Experiences = Transfer of Learning and Personal/Team Development!
Contact Empower Leadership or visit our website for more information about Youth Leadership and Character Development!