There are a lot of numbers floating around about how often a goal is achieved if it’s written down. And to be honest I am not sure how much truth resides in those numbers. I mean, really, who is doing that study? How big was the sample size in terms of both people and the number of goals they set? What was the control group? How do you measure how often people achieve things when they DON’T set a goal because without a goal it’s like there is no way to achieve something, right? Am I making sense? Have I asked enough questions?
That paragraph was probably the most question mark heavy paragraph of all time.
But the internet does say that setting goals is very effective. So I began setting more goals.
Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. Like I mentioned earlier in this story there is a sense of being at the bottom of a mountain and not knowing how to climb it. Well, the easiest way to climb something is to take a step and then re-evaluate. Where should I step next to safely move ahead? One little step. That’s all you have to achieve. So, the easiest goal was the most important. Don’t have any alcohol today.
Because, yeah, it would be great to set a goal like go 5 years without a drink. Never drink again. Etc. But then you are biting off WAY more than you can chew. You can’t go 5 years without drinking in one big chunk. Life and the nature of time make that unrealistic and frankly probably impossible. What you can do is not drink today. Not drink right now in this moment.
That’s a function of making a good decision in the moment. Once I had decided that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze then it became a little easier to say no in the moment. Yeah, I want to have a drink and get drunk right now but then there are consequences later so right now in this very moment the answer is no and then I do it all again in the next moment.
Like this one time a buddy was really drunk and talking on his phone while taking a pee break on the side of the freeway. The consequences of those decisions (get drunk, stop to pee, answer a phone) were that he dropped the phone in his own urine and then pissed on himself while picking it up. Next he got some urine on his face when he put the phone back to his ear and continued to talk. The same phone that moments earlier had been lying on the ground in a puddle of his own peepee. That’s one possible consequence of getting drunk. That’s where it could lead.
With me, if I had one drink I would almost certainly end up having all the drinks. All the drinks could lead me to a point where I was in a club with urine on my pants, hands, phone, and cheek. (But, on the plus side, none in my bladder!!) I didn’t want that to happen. Heck, just watching that moment go down really should have scared me off alcohol. Sadly, it didn’t.
Speaking of dropping phones. This one actually happened to me. I remember a time where I drunkenly dropped my phone in a gutter on a downtown Vancouver street. (At least there would be less urine on it than my friend.) Oh yeah and being that it was Vancouver it was obviously raining. Plus I am drunk. Which meant no matter what I tried I couldn’t find the phone in the water filled gutter.
Dropped it right in front of me and then couldn’t find it. Through the haze I realized there was a homeless man standing near me and my “genius” light flashed on. Beckoning the homeless man over to me I came up with this beauty of a plan.
“Hey man. I lost my phone. Dropped it. Gutter. Find it and there’s 5 bucks in it for you.” I said clearly and precisely in my mind although in reality at the time I am sure it came out closer to something like, “Hey. Phone. Gutter man lost. Five find bucks.”
That man looked at me like “are you kidding?” pointed at my phone and said, “there it is” and there it was indeed. Literally right at my feet. Where I was standing the whole time. Right where I was looking. 5 bucks well spent. Normally when you give some money to a homeless person you feel good about yourself. They need it more than you do. You think maybe that’s the change they need to get their life back on track. But not that night. That night I did not feel good about myself.
“He didn’t feel good about himself” could have been on my tombstone at that point. You know, if I was dead. And wanted to be buried. And also do people really do tombstones anymore? That seems like it’s not the right word. Headstone? Tombstone has a real old west vibe to it. Well, saddle up partner. There’s more to this story.
As I said, learning to set goals was a huge step for me. My most common goals at that point in my life were these:
Daily: Don’t have a drink today.
Monthly: Don’t have a drink this month.
Yearly: Don’t have a drink this calendar year.
Other goal: Find a way to be more creative with my goal setting.