If You Want To Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus On Them by Reggie Rivers (Transcript)

And looking at the situation with Lasandra Johnson and I — when I was focused on my goal, which was to have this girl to be my girlfriend, I couldn’t speak to her if I was walking past her in the hallway. In my head all the time it was, “Lasandra is cute, I want her to be my girlfriend. Lasandra is cute, I want her to be my girlfriend.” We’re walking past her in the hallway, I’d turn the other way.

I would not even say “Hello” to her, because I was terrified, all I could think about was my goal. When she told my friend John, “If Reggie wants me to be his girlfriend, he’s got to ask me himself,” I heard, “Yes”.

So, I stopped thinking about the goal, the goal had already been achieved, I came back to focusing on my behaviors. Once I started focusing on my behaviors, I figured out what class she had at first hour. I learned the rules at our school about changing classes. I went to the principal’s office talking to adults, “Hey, listen, I got to change class, I got a girl to catch.”

I walked into the Home Ec room, a room of full of girls. I was afraid to talk to one girl, now there is a room full of girls, and I was like, “Ladies, I am here.”

I asked Tara to move over so I could sit next to Lasandra, and she did! I had a little swagger to me because I heard, “Yes.” And when I heard yes, I stopped focusing on the goal and I started focusing on my behavior, and I got myself into a position to achieve my goal.

Well she said no at that time, but later she said yes. But I learned — Years later, when I looked back and I thought about that, I thought, “That’s really the model for what happens in life, it’s a metaphor.” If you think about what we all go through, say, weight loss. We’re all on a diet at one point or another — I am on one now, involuntarily, my wife has put me on one — but we’re all on a diet at one point or another. And how does a diet start? It starts with a goal. You say, “I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.” Okay, that’s great, you have a goal.

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If you stay focused on that goal, you will never lose 10 pounds. Because what’s the next thing we do? We go from our goal to the scale. We say, “Okay, I am going to tap on the scale. Scale, please tell me if I’ve lost any of these 10 pounds. Oh, I haven’t lost any. I’ve gained a pound. Okay.”

And we keep coming back to the scale, and you go through a week where you eat well, you’re exercising, you’re drinking a lot of water, you’re doing all the right things, and you get on the scale, and you’ve gained weight; you quit the diet.

If you focus on your goal, you won’t achieve it. Instead, you have to focus on your behaviors, your behaviors are what are in your control: you control the food that you put in your mouth, you control the liquids that you put in your mouth, you control how much exercise you do, you control how you feel about the weight that you are, you control how you feel about the amount of food that you’re eating, you can either feel deprived and miserable, “Oh my God! It’s the worst day in the world. I’m eating less than I used to eat. I’m starving all the time. I feel miserable. I can’t believe I’ve almost died. It’s awful!”

Or you can say, “I’m proud of myself. I’m eating less than I used to eat, I have this instead of that, I feel good. I know that if I keep this up, when I get on the scale, the scale is going to tell me something good. If it doesn’t tell me something good right now, I know if I keep this up, I’m going to get where I’m going.”

Right now, we treat the scales as if it is an oracle sent down from God to tell us about ourselves.

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When you are on a diet, it is like, “Oh, mighty Oracle, please tell me what I should think about myself today!”

“You’re fat!” – “Ooh!”

The Oracle has spoken. If you focus too much on your goal, if you focus on what it is you weigh, then you’re never going to achieve your goal. You have to focus on your behaviors.

Think about our kids. We have goals for our kids: we want our kids to be responsible, we want them to be mature, we want them to work hard in school, to work hard at their extra curricula, to hang out with the right people, we want them to be engaged. We want all these wonderful things for our kids, and because we want these things for them, because we focus on those goals for them, we spend most of our time as parents being agitated, “Why are you doing that? Told you not to do that. Get over here. Do your homework. What? You’re only on one page in? I told you to get your homework done!”

And we spend all our time fussing, and fussing, and fussing because these kids won’t do what we have in mind for them in terms of our goals; we’re focused on our goal.

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