How can you stay focused on your future goals and be effective in this moment? How can you look ahead, without getting ahead of yourself? How can you work toward a vision when you can’t see past what’s directly in front of you?
Avoid renegotiating on the fly.
Not sure if you’re an on-the-fly negotiator? Does your morning workout ever go like this?
You leave the house for a three-mile run. You strap on your Garmin and your heart rate monitor, plug in your headphones, choose your Pandora station, and set off for three loops around the block. (If you’re not a runner, insert 45 minutes on the elliptical machine or a weight workout at the gym.)
About ten minutes into the run, you feel fantastic. You think to yourself: I feel amazing. I could do this all day! I’m going to take advantage of this feeling. Today, I’m going to run an extra mile!
You’ve just re-negotiated your original goal on the fly. The new commitment to four miles sounds like an advantage. But it’s a head game.
Because here’s what happens next:
As mile two begins, you start to think about your new goal. You begin to lose steam as you contemplate four miles; it seems like a long way. Your pace begins to slow. As you round the turn at the end of two miles – the corner just before your house – the voice of resistance takes over entirely. You gave this voice a seat at the table when you opened negotiations.
I’m exhausted. I don’t have it today. I’m going to stop at two.
And it’s over. One mile short of your goal you march back to the house, defeated, filled with excuses, and out of touch with your original strategy for success.
I get this. I really do. I have an amazing talent for negotiating with myself. The voices in my head work deals on the fly like you cannot even imagine.
If I don’t manage this tendency, my goals start out like this:
Today I’m going to write for four hours straight. I’m going to get all my work done.
This month I’m going to work out every single day.
I’m going to write four blog posts a week.
And I negotiate my way into this:
I’ve got two good hours of writing in. That’s a good day for me. I deserve a break. I’m stopping here.
I worked out three days this week. Today I need to recover.
I’m skipping my blog post today. People aren’t reading it anyway.
If you’re an on-the-fly negotiator, practice this simple, but powerful three-step solution.
- Take the time – in a moment of calm and clarity – to set your goal or objective.
- Attach this goal to a specific outcome or emotion you long to achieve. Understand why you are setting the goal.
- Make your goal non-negotiable. Make a commitment that you will not negotiate with yourself, unless you return to this moment of calm and clarity. Unless the why attached to the goal has changed.
Because in those powerless moments – the moments when you arbitrarily raise or lower your goal – you lose site of the why. You lose site of the feeling or outcome you were originally after. You lose site of what led you to set the goal in the first place.
In the moment of negotiation, the only thing that will keep you on task is dedication to a simple pledge:
I WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH MYSELF.
This takes practice. As Dr. Phil says, we behave our way to success. So make it your mantra. Take it with you to every workout, workday, meeting and conversation. Take it with you every time you act in service of a goal. Take it with you for protection. Take it with you for respect.
I WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH MYSELF.
Because in negotiations with ourselves, we never come out the winner.
I’ll meet you at the finish line.