Finding Connection Through Imperfection (how to make goals fun again)

I was at Whole Foods today, drooling over a $5 avocado…ok, that’s a total lie.

I was really at Trader Joe’s drooling over the Peppermint Joe Joe’s ice cream.

I may have moaned, “Why, Trader Joe’s, why are you doing this to me?” as a nice stocker person handed me a tissue.

I’d rather pretend that I was drooling over something healthy.

Am I a bad, weak person because I love Peppermint Joe Joe’s ice cream and may have eaten more than a serving (or two) last night?

I can hide my weakness and project my image of perfect-perfectness to you, which allows me to stay at a safe emotional distance.

If I share my story, we’ll be connected.

You’ll say, “Melissa, I ate too much Peppermint Joe Joe’s ice cream too!” or “Ugh, I hate Peppermint Joe Joe’s ice cream but man, I love those chocolate stars…I ate a whole box!”

And voila! We’re connecting!

But more important, we’re laughing about something that used to be shameful or secret. We brought it into the light and connected through our imperfection.

When you can name it, you can reframe it  
Let’s call out that voice in your head that says, “I’m a bad person” because you made a mistake. You ate too much ice cream. You said the wrong thing in a meeting. Someone didn’t like your idea. You missed a deadline. You forgot someone’s birthday. You forgot someone’s name or their kid’s name. You didn’t make your sales goal. You lost your job. You got a divorce.

Life is chock full of these moments (or months or even years) of disappointment.

For everyone. Seriously, everyone.

Sometimes this is hard to believe because we look at life through the lens of social media, which reinforces the “everything is perfect” images that disconnect us.

I have a friend who recently lost his job. He was ashamed and felt like it was all his fault, when in fact it was a mismatch of personality, skills and culture. It was not a good fit for him, he was miserable there and was honestly relieved when they let him go. But in his head, that voice of self-criticism told him that he was bad at his job, no wonder they let him go. When he began to share his story, his friends responded with tales of their own. Hearing their stories reframed the situation for him. It was no longer a failure to be ashamed of, but rather a bump in the long road of his otherwise rockin’ career.

TRY THIS
• Own it: We all make mistakes. It’s what makes life interesting, though painful in the moment. If you didn’t make mistakes, you’d have nothing prompting you to get better. You’d be the most boring person on the planet. A safe, color in the lines, nothing ever happens to you kind of person. It’s good to examine your mistakes so you can learn from them, but don’t dwell.
• Share it: We get happy when we can help each other. Think about the last time a friend shared a mistake or a problem with you and you had a chance to give them a pep talk. Wasn’t that awesome and fulfilling?
• Reframe it: What did you learn from this that will help you do things differently next time? I had a stomachache from eating all that ice cream, so I learned that one serving is better than two. My friend who lost his job learned that it’s easier and faster to move on when you share your story.

How to make goals fun again
At the end of the year, we reflect back and look forward. What if we applied this framework to our goals? I think “Own It, Share It, Reframe It” might make goal setting fun again. Let’s try it.

People fall into three camps when it comes to goal setting for a new year, which one do you relate to?

  1. The “no way, I never set goals” camp – when asked “why not?” answers connect to the feeling that you failed if you don’t meet your goals. If you’ve spent year after year saying, “this year I’m finally going to lose weight” and then not losing weight, you probably fall into this camp. No one likes to fail over and over again.
  2. The “heck yeah, I love to kick the heck outta some goals” camp – when asked, “what do you love about goal setting?” people seem to like checking things off their list. They learned that writing down a goal (Own It) then talking about it (Share It) made it more likely to happen. They also tend to be more specific about their goals, setting “walk ten thousand steps four times a week” as their goal instead of “lose weight” (Reframe It).
  3. And the “oh, yeah, I really should do that” camp (see #1).

If your goals are tied to all the things you did wrong in the year past, it feels pretty icky to fail over and over. It wasn’t bad enough to make the original mistake last year, now I have to drag it out and review it again as I look forward to the New Year? Ugh, no thank you!

The rest of this advice is for those of you who are in categories #1 and #3. You #2 people just go out there and make it happen! The rest of us are going to be happy for you and admire you and not be jealous of you. Because we can do things differently this year and have a positive story to share when we see you next, when you get back from running that marathon or winning your company’s reward trip to Hawaii for blasting through your sales quota.

According to just about every news source in the United States, the top five New Year’s resolutions are consistently in these categories:

  1. Lose weight
    Stop thinking about what you did wrong: ate too much Peppermint Joe Joe’s ice cream.
    Start finding connection through imperfection
    Own It: Ok, I gained some weight last year.
    Share It: Find a friend to share your disappointment with. Rather than whine about it or beat yourself up, just share your disappointment and get ready to set a goal that you can meet.
    Reframe It: It’s time to be nice to yourself! You would never beat up a friend the way your beat yourself up over this. Be as encouraging as you would to your BFF! And set a goal that you can meet: This year, I am going to walk for 30 minutes every day at lunch. Choose something that you like to do, something simple that you will enjoy.
  2. Get organized
    Stop thinking about what you did wrong: piled up so much clutter that you can’t park in your garage.
    Start finding connection through imperfection 

    Own It: Hmmm, looks like I can’t walk through the garage anymore. Decide if you want to do something about it. I had a moment of panic when I tried to get the Christmas tree stand out of my garage this winter. I couldn’t reach it and quickly went down a shame spiral beating myself up over the collection of stuff in my garage.
    Share It: I posted this picture of my garage on FaceBook. I know that I am not alone in this one!
    Reframe It: When I looked at all the stuff collected in my garage, it occurred to me that we have a lot of hobbies. I reframed “we have too much stuff” to “we have so many cool hobbies.” For you, it may be “I have all my mom’s stuff stored in my garage and at some point I’ll be ready to go through it” or “I choose to spend this time with my kids who will be gone before I know it, so I’ll go through the garage when I am not having fun with them.”
  3. Save more
    Stop thinking about what you did wrong: spent too much on all that stuff in your garage.
    Start finding connection through imperfection
    Own It: Ask yourself why you are buying stuff. This one may require some therapy if you’re fulfilling your emotional needs through shopping. This year, my bank balance went waaaaay down without my company paycheck. I had to tell friends straight out “I can’t go out to lunch with you.” I definitely went through shopping withdrawal symptoms as I cut out clothing purchases that had fulfilled emotional needs.
    Share It: Ask some friends how they did it. Share your challenge and collect some ideas from people you trust. I had to decide that I just wasn’t going to be ashamed, that starting a business requires capital and that was nothing to be ashamed of. I may have occasionally bemoaned (aka whined about) my lack of shopping funds in the beginning.
    Reframe It: Instead of punishing yourself for your dismal bank balance, look for small ways to save more. I invited friends to go for a hike instead of going to lunch. This has been an unexpectedly wonderful year of not accumulating more stuff I don’t need.
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
    Stop thinking about what you did wrong: worked too many hours, didn’t take your vacation days, spent too much time pretending like you didn’t make any mistakes.
    Start finding connection through imperfection 
    Own It: Decide what this means for you. I have a few friends who have unlimited vacation days at work, which sounds amazing but when you remove the end of year deadline of “use it or lose it” vacation days, many people just never take any vacation at all. I probably don’t need to tell you the number of people on their deathbeds that say, “I’m so glad I worked so hard for my company and didn’t take my vacation days.”
    Share It: Just for fun, ask everyone you meet what this means to them. Think about what living life to the fullest means to you. This will prompt an interesting conversation; you may be surprised with the answers you get.
    Reframe It: Choose one thing to do this year that will help you feel happier. I loved the title of the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I mean, really, who can’t be 10% Happier? Sounds totally doable, right?
  5. Get fit/healthy
    Stop thinking about what you did wrong: sat at your desk for too long, failed at last year’s resolutions.
    Start finding connection through imperfection

    Own It: Last year you secretly made this resolution without telling anyone because you made it the year before and the year before that.
    Share It: Getting fit or healthy isn’t fun unless you share it. It tends to be a punitive thing in our culture. Last year, my husband, son and I all got FitBits and we spent 2016 competing with one another and our friends to hit ten thousand steps each day. It worked. One year later and together we are still walking ten thousand steps almost every day.
    Reframe It: Don’t join a gym. The proof is irrefutable: gyms are packed in January and empty by March. Gyms are no fun for most people. Think outside the box and find your community online. I’ve come across communities that people join to get healthy. One is The Inertia Project to “help go-getting ladies overcome their fear of the gym so they can have a body and life they love.”
    The founder, Genevieve, is creating a community of smart, motivated women who don’t like going to the gym but want to get healthy. Sign up for her free workout plans.Just to show you the huge variety out there, Nerd Fitness is a “community of underdogs, misfits, and mutants that can’t wait to help” with over 299,000 members. Whatever your preference, you can find a community to support your health goals and it doesn’t have to be at a traditional gym.

Are you feeling more positive about goal setting now?
I’m putting “Enjoy life to the fullest” in the number one position because teaching you is the thing I love the most.

Want a little more on this topic? Keep reading…

If you’re interested in learning more about connecting through our imperfections, I’ve been reading a good book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

I’m about halfway through it and so far it’s full of great stories and tips for how to “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

I’d never read Brene Brown (or even heard of her!) before 2016, so when I saw her TED talks on “Shame and Vulnerability,” it kind of rocked my world. If you haven’t seen them, take a few minutes to watch her talk on “The Power of Vulnerability,” which has been viewed 27 million times. If you’re thinking, “Wait, you’re telling me that 27 million people watched this person talk about vulnerability and I’ve never heard of her?!” I’m right there with you.

 

 


And the one on “Listening to Shame”

Her talks are powerful because she takes a heavy topic and makes it real and funny. I promise you will feel happier and smarter afterwards!

Live it, learn it and love it! Share this to make our tribe thrive!

4 thoughts on “Finding Connection Through Imperfection (how to make goals fun again)

  1. Samantha Foster Reply

    Another great post Melissa! Re-framing one’s goals and ideas can make all the difference: staying on task vs falling off and never getting back on!

    • Melissa Hereford Post authorReply

      Thank you Samantha! I completely agree that you stand a much better chance of success when you reframe your goals.

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