Learn from my dog: achieve your goals by keeping the bar low

Lindsey Lathrop, Coach

To talk about achieving our goals, we have to talk about keeping the bar low. Why? Because anyone who has achieved success will tell you, it not about the big leap. (Of course, we are made to feel this way.) It’s actually about all the tiny steps (and small decisions) that it takes to get momentum going. This especially comes in handy when you’ve lost your motivation.

​I can’t talk about keeping the bar low without taking about my dog, Jake.

We think Jake is 15 years old. The facts: we adopted him in 2003 and he wasn’t a puppy. He could be 17. #winningatlife

What we noticed right away with Jake is that he puts in the least possible effort. Let’s take the dog park. He will plant himself in the middle of the field, and as other dogs chase each other, Jake spins himself around barking and wagging his tail – as if he’s ALSO in on the chase. But let’s be honest, he really isn’t. And while yes, this sounds like a life hack for having old joints, he’s been doing this from day one.

Other questions Jake seems to ask himself…Why swim when I can just lay in the water? Why NOT sleep ALL day?

Alright, let’s talk about humans and low bars. Because, unfortunately we can’t sleep all day.

Keeping the bar low has helped me reboot SO many times in my life. Why? It helps me shift my mindset.

Some examples of me lowering the bar:
“I’ll be killing it if I get up everyday at 5:30am this week.” VS. “Get up at 5:30 one time this week.”

“I’ll only be happy if I run 5 miles today.” VS. “I’ll be happy to get outside today for a half hour.”

“Drink a gallon of water each day.” VS. “Bring your water bottle when you leave the house.”

“I’ll be a good wife if I send a birthday card to all of our family this year.” VS. “Send cards to those you can and call/email/FB message the rest.”

“Don’t buy coffee out this week.” VS. “Buy coffee 2x this week.”

You get the picture. Every time I am down and/or have lost steam, I go back to setting the bar low. When I sit down to write out my low bar goals, sure, the voices of “Lindsey, you should know how to do this by now” or “Really?! This again?!” creep in.

And then I feel really smart. Because, I remind myself that with setting the bar low:
1) I almost can’t fail because they are so achievable.
2) The achievement WILL make me feel better.
3) I almost always do more.

This is the way I kick start myself.

So, knowing emotions, people, other priorities will inevitably pop up AND knowing we’re human and will experience a plateau during a task or project – how do we keep up?

Set a low bar and design with your “distractions” in mind.

We design knowing we will need to build momentum – again.
We design knowing we will need to boost our confidence – again.
We design knowing we will have negative thoughts – again.

It’s all going to be there. Again and again and again.

For many of us, we are fueled by our achievements. We get a little dopamine boost every time we check something off.

If you’re thinking to yourself “Only lazy people keep the bar low.” or “Small goals are too easy.” That second point IS The point. It’s harder NOT to meet these goals. (It’s like a frown…it takes MORE muscle to frown than to smile.)  And, if you’re not getting stuff done anyway, think about how nice it’ll be to check a tiny thing off.

It doesn’t have to be forever. In fact, it won’t be.

Because small achievements + time = bigger achievements.

Well, except for Jake. But he’s winning at life anyway.

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