A friend asked me yesterday how it was possible to set goals according to our own standards since human nature dictates we will always be comparing ourselves with others.
Here’s my take on it:
Say I decided that I wanted to do a yoga headstand as effortlessly as my friend Noura El Iman. Well, for starters I don’t actually know if it is effortless for her, and if I asked her she would probably tell me that it has taken her years of training and study and practice to do it and in fact it is still a really challenging position – so that’s not a good goal at all.
So say I decided that I wanted to look as elegant as Noura in a headstand – well, I’m never going to look “like” her, we are completely different shapes and on top of that she is at least fifteen years younger than me so I’m always going to be playing catchup in the wrong direction! And what exactly do I mean by elegant? Its a judgment call and really hard, in fact impossible, to measure. That’s not a good goal at all.
So say I decided I wanted to be able to hold a headstand position comfortably for as long as Noura. Now we’re getting somewhere! I can ask her how long she can hold it comfortably, I can measure how long I can hold it comfortably now (right now about a nanosecond!) and compare the two. That gives me my perfect 10 and my potential – the gap between where I am now and my perfect 10. And “comfortably” is my judgment, not anyone else’s, only I can ever know what’s comfortable for my body. That’s a good goal.
A good goal has to be measureable, otherwise its totally subjective and how can you ever know you’ve achieved it? And if you don’t know you’ve achieved it how do you know when to celebrate?