Feb 22, 2024
Goal setting is important. But what if I told you it can also be unrealistic?
Setting goals helps you determine where you’re going, what you want, and what you’re working toward. However, a posture of constant goal orientation can be unrealistic and unsustainable.
In this week’s episode, Tiffany shares her struggles with setting high goals, only to find herself paralyzed by her lack of progress in certain areas. There is a better way.
She helps by giving real-life examples of how to set minimums to help you feel successful, peaceful, and fulfilled. This episode is a can’t miss for anyone trying to fit it all in while pursuing a Life of And.
Tiffany Sauder: Today was one of those mornings where I had to pick between, a run and washing my hair and a run won out. My hair is feeling like about two too many days of dry shampoo. So, uh, anyways, want to talk about a couple things today. One, my colleague, Karen Seketa, who is 10 years older than me and like a life stage ahead.
So she doesn't have any kids in the house anymore. One is out of college and one is in college. And she forwarded me this email. That she found in her inbox because she's like a real time historian archivalists she's always so good at looking back and benchmarking, which I'm terrible at. And she forwarded me an email that she found her inbox from 2012. so almost 10 years ago. Where she was emailing her nanny about, like, you know, Hey, Drew's got to be picked up here and Nate's got to be here and then you've got to put this in the oven for dinner and like, all of the logistics of her life, which is exactly what mine looks like right now. She and her husband are a 2 career home as well.
And it was like, such a gift for 2 reasons. 1. To see like, you know, time marches on and this is what happens like all this logistics is just part of having kids and them being busy and doing all this stuff. But it was also this marker of, at some point, all of this stuff that I'm doing that feels so important, which it is, is going to be in the rear view mirror.
And I will think back to that thing I used to do, even though right now it is so much in the foreground of my life. And. It made me ask myself two things. What will I miss about right now? Like, you know, it can be easy to wake up and have this kind of exhausted attitude towards your life and the normal.
But there will be parts of this normal that I really miss. I think I will really miss our laundry room being just cluttered with the activity of our kids. You know, one soccer sock, One volleyball that's like a stray volleyball rolling about my daughter's swimsuits always hanging on the doorknob like these are fixtures of my environment right now, these symbols of all this activity and.
I think I'll miss that, even though I do feel like I'm trying to bail out the Titanic every day and keeping house organized. I think I'll miss that. So that's one thing. And I will miss just the like pitter patter, like hearing somebody opening and closing the fridge all the time. hearing Quincy's feet just like buzzing through the house.
I'll miss that. Those sights and sounds of this normal right now. So, I don't know. I feel like it just helped me capture these little snapshots in my mind of I'm going to miss this. I don't know if I'll miss spending so much time in my car, um, but I, I will miss pieces of this moment and this stage. And so it helped me just see it a little bit, I guess, more intentionally.
Okay, the other thing I want to spend some time on is this concept of minimums. I've referenced this concept over the last few episodes and I wanted to take a moment and really sit on what is a minimum, where did it come from for me and how can you use it to really feel a sense of progress and peace in your life.
So if you're listening to this, I know that you're a high achiever and I know that you have a lot going on and I know that sometimes it feels like you're trying to fit 50 pounds of shit pound bag. End. That idea of wanting a big full life. I'm like all in on, but constantly feeling like I'm failing myself and not showing up well for myself.
That feeling got really exhausting and it was like that for a really long time for me, like 25 years. We cleaned out our office, probably a year ago now. And I was reading through some of my journals and even in college, I was journaling about how I was like, so frustrated that I wasn't keeping my commitments to myself.
I would make this plan that I'm going to run 20 of the next 30 days and this is my goal. And then I would get like 10 days into it and I've already like. Not run at all. So that means I need to run every day for the next 20 days. You mean my goal and that's not realistic. And so I just constantly was like, not keeping my commitment to myself.
And I really struggle with discipline. I really struggle with doing the same thing over and over and over again. I really like being spontaneous. I like new and different things. but there's a lot of good and a lot of productivity and a lot of noise that goes away when you can figure out how to Be the same to yourself over and over in certain areas of your life.
And so two years ago, my trainer introduced me to this concept of a minimum. And he said, Tiffany, instead of working with my clients and asking them, how many days a week do you want to work out? I asked them, how many days can you always work out? And the point is like, I want to work out five days a week.
It's not realistic based on. the environment that I choose to be in and the requirements of my kids and my own requirements for sleep and the requirements that come from my husband traveling, like all of those ingredients together and I'm just like, I can't consistently get five workouts in.
And so instead of asking me what my goal is, he asked me, what's the minimum amount that you can do? Like every single week on your worst week, what do you know that you can make happen? And so we started with two. Two days a week. You've heard me talk about this for, what is my minimum? Two days a week. if Jr has gone Monday through Friday, I can work out Saturday and Sunday.
And so instead of holding myself accountable to did I hit my goal, I started to get these small doses. Of a feeling of accomplishment and of progress by delivering on my minimums to myself.
Another example could be time with your spouse. Let's say right now you really don't ever go out together and what you can wrongly do is say like, Hey, instead of doing never, we're going to try to go out every Friday. Well, look at, is that feasible? Like every Friday, can you find a sitter every Friday?
Can you afford every Friday? Are there other things going on? Like family events, other commitments, work travel, like, is every Friday really consistent? And if every Friday becomes your goal and you don't achieve that, they can feel like we really didn't. Do what we said, this is not an important commitment, and it starts to feel like we said this was going to be important and now it's kind of not because we're not delivering on the thing that we said.
So what's a minimum that you can put in place where you say to each other no matter what, no matter how much travel, no matter who's sick, no matter how much money we have, we are going to sure that we do this. At this frequency, it could be, we're going to be sure that we spend two hours together once a month.
Could be a walk in a park, could be playing pickleball, could be out for dinner, could be dropping your kids off at your in laws after church and like going and having brunch. I don't know, but maybe it's best to start small to define what is the minimum that we are going to do. Not because we want to put minimum effort towards one another, but because we want to be absolutely excellent.
For And upholding the minimum that we have created and upholding the agreement that we have in place to say, this is my promise to myself, or this is my promise to this person. And I know no matter what good week, medium week or bad week, I can always do it. And that starts to create these baseline.
Levels of engagement of behavior of habits that then with increments of time, change in circumstances, the momentum that you get, the enjoyment that you get, the natural velocity that it comes with achievement, whatever it is, you can begin to move up those minimums. slowly over time, but that way you're not heaping all of these like goals and 50 different areas of your life on top of one another that just like essentially become this Jenga tower that falls down on itself and you're left with really no forward progress anywhere in this like glut of effort that it takes to say, okay, I made all these commitments and all these areas cause I have all these goals and all these things I want to do.
And I am now doing the most in every area of my life. Yeah. It's not sustainable. I have proven it to myself over and over and over again that that is not sustainable. But what is sustainable is to say right now in my life, what can I commit to that is going to make progress towards where I want to be? I know I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again after I had Quincy, I was physically a mess.
It was very uncomfortable in my own skin. My body felt very, very weak. I hurt absolutely everywhere. I'd never felt so old in my whole life. And I wanted to get back to where I was before, whatever that means as fast as humanly possible. But the reality was I had a lot of other people and a lot of other commitments and a lot of other things going on in my life that were not going to allow me to go like biggest loser style and say, I'm just going to clear the decks for three months and myopically focus on getting myself back to where I'm comfortable.
It just was not practical outcome. But I was like, Not so secretly internally in my head, holding myself accountable to this gigantic leap of progress when I did not have the time to actually put the behaviors together to make a gigantic leap of progress, but I could make an increment of progress. But my old brain, if I couldn't make a gigantic leap of progress towards this goal, then I would make no progress because I didn't know how to make a little bit of progress.
Does that make sense? I didn't know how to make a little bit of progress. And when this framework of minimums was introduced to me, I was like, this is how I make a little bit of progress. I didn't know if it would take me six months, 16 months or 26 months. To get back to where I felt comfortable. I felt strong.
I felt like I could Do the things I wanted to in my life physically and be available for my family. I left my kids and do all the things. I know how long it would take me, but I knew if I committed to the most sustainable increment of progress that I would get there over time. And if that's what I held myself accountable to that I would eventually get there and eventually was literally eventually, I didn't know how long, but I knew if I worked out two days a week, every single week, I told myself 50 weeks a year, there was probably going to be two that I didn't hit, but to me, 50 weeks a year was delivering on my minimum.
Then I was making progress towards it. Where are you not showing up for yourself at all? Because you don't know how to make. A sustainable increment of progress towards it. It could be in relationship. It could be in something as simple as, picking up the house. Like I have been in seasons where my whole house was a mess and I'm like, well, I don't have three days to take off work to clean up the entire thing.
And so I don't even know where to start. it kind of like just grows and the snowball gets bigger and then I feel more and more behind and the visual clutter creates mental clutter for me. And then it just becomes this whole thing. And I have started to say, What is the smallest increment of progress I can make?
And I'll say, like, I'm going to work on this 20 minutes twice a week. I can do that 20 minutes twice a week I can do and that increment of progress sometimes says, okay, 20 minutes a week, twice a week is not so bad. I can do 20 minutes three times a week and that's the increment of progress until the project is done.
But it is hard when you're doing a lot of different things, serving a lot of different roles, needing to serve a lot of different people. It's hard to move your own initiatives to completion really, really quickly. And so having a tool. To make an increment of progress towards the things that are very important to you, I think is critically important to mastering this life of and.
Otherwise, you live in these periods of glut and of famine, where you serve a relationship in a really fulfilling way for a period of time and then you've totally completely ignore it You know get your house in order for a period of time and you obsess over and go crazy Then it goes all the way to a disaster you serve your marriage as intimately as you know How and then you don't have the time to sustain it this like glut and famine glut and famine This rollercoaster ride of feeling like I'm just constantly overwhelmed does not work.
It does not give you energy. It does not allow you to be present. And for me becomes this totally reactive state of living. And so for me to get on top of things to say, you know what? I'm in control. This is my domain. I'm working incrementally towards the things I want in life. This tool of establishing minimums that lead towards the outcomes I want, instead of holding myself accountable for the goals that I have.
I hope that makes sense. Giving ourselves some freedom as high achievers, as leaders, as people who have high performance expectations of ourselves to say, if I consistently do the minimum, I am doing the most that I can do, and it gives you a chance to plus it. Some weeks go great. Some, some weeks you get to bed early.
some weeks, it just goes great. And you have a chance to be able to your minimum. And you can like, I don't know, for me, it's like putting dopamine in the bank. And I just feel so much better. So. And you don't feel the guilt of not being able to deliver to yourself. Like I said, working out 20 days out of 30 or whatever my goal would have been, putting the infrastructure in place so that you can sustainably deliver to yourself and to the people around you, what your minimums are will keep you consistently moving forward to the progress and outcomes that you want in this magical life of and that we're all chasing after.
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