How many times you have decided to go to the gym, to eat healthy, to meditate more or to finally pick up a new hobby. Any of these decisions might sound like a goal to achieve but we fail to meet these goals. Why? It sounds like a goal and it looks like a goal, but it doesn’t mean it is a goal that we take that seriously. To establish and achieve a goal, we need to get specific. Is your goal to lose weight? That’s not specific enough. How much weight do you want to lose? What will you stop eating (maybe bread)? What will you eat more (definitely not ice-cream)? How active will you be? How many times you will go to the gym on a weekly basis? When are you going to start?
What do you need to achieve a goal? You need bright-line rules. What are bright-line rules? Here is a simple example. In 1966, Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix. The result was a trail which escalated to a Supreme Court case, Miranda vs. Arizona. Ernesto Miranda won the case. The result of this was the decision that it’s mandatory for police officers to read the Miranda rights (right to remain silent) to each person who gets arrested. Finally, the law was clear on what can and what cannot be used in court. This is a perfect example of a bright-line rule. The definition of the bright-line rules is:
“an objective rule that resolves a legal issue in a straightforward, predictable manner.”
Yes, we are using examples of law as a recipe of how to establish and achieve goals. You need a bright-line rule to strengthen your willpower needed for achieving goals. What is the rule that you can’t cross to achieve your goal? Getting specific is the most important thing. There is no room for interpretations and expectations if you are serious about achieving the most important goal that you have right now in your life. “I am going to get better with…” is not specific enough. “I am going to eat two types of fruit each day.” The first refers to hope and dreams that we have. The second one is a plan on how to achieve a dream of living healthy or losing weight.
Bright-line rules always work if you apply them. As James Clear, behavior psychologist and author explained, a bright-line rule will give you a new identity. You don’t have to be too tough with yourself. Do you like ice-cream? You are on a diet? Example of a bright-line rule can be to eat ice-cream only on weekends. What do you do if someone offers you ice-cream on Wednesday? You have the ice-cream rule as a bright-line rule, and you have to stick with it. It’s not even a matter of discussion. You have a rule and you follow it. When you have a bright-line rule there is no space for guesswork. Your willpower will be tested and your motivation as well. However, if you stick with the rule for a longer period of time, it truly becomes a part of your identity and it becomes a habit. Everything is a habit! Eating ice-cream after dinner on a daily basis is a habit. We might adopt bad habits without any effort. However, to adopt good habits is always an effort especially when we have well-established bad habits.
Think about the one goal that you would like to reach. What is the most important goal in your life right now? After establishing the goal, you need to get specific, find your bright-line rules and follow them.