Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lowering expectations in order to meet your goals

Lowered Expectations Comedy Skit

I was recently reminded of a humorous reoccurring skit that ran on Mad TV in the late 1990s called Lowered Expectations. You can see a clip of the sketch in the video below. Funny stuff.

Author Tim Ferriss lowers expectations on writing goals

I was reminded of this comedy sketch when I viewed a video post over at The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss. In Tim's post, he mentions that one of his goals in 2010 was to finish writing his next book in the next 5 weeks. In order to accomplish this, he needed to write so many words or so many pages per day. He then said that what many authors or "creatives" do is set themselves up for failure by establishing an unreachable quota or goal such as "1500 good words per day."

Tim then told a story about the IBM sales force. For many years, this group of salespeople was the best of the best in the tech sales industry. Interestingly enough, though, these sales professionals had the lowest quotas in the industry. How could this be? Most of your sales gurus and self-help types would say that you need to set high goals and high standards in order to become the best. Apparently for the IBM sales team, they found that lowering their quotas helped take the pressure off themselves, and they were able to move on to their next sales call and easily work through rejection.

Similarly, Tim said that he was lowering his expectations on his daily writing goals and he would be satisfied with "2 crappy pages" or approximately 700 words of writing each day. In the video post, he mentions that he often will write more than this, but if he can at the very least write 2 bad pages a day, then he would be satisfied. This works because it takes the pressure off of yourself; you are able to get unstuck and moving ahead toward accomplishing your goals.

Real Life Application

How can the Rich Christian apply this principle of lowering expectations in their own personal goals? Try these three ideas out:
  1. Daily Quiet Time. Let's say you have always had difficulty keeping a daily quiet time and for 2010, you have already set yourself up for failure by creating, for example, a huge goal of at least 60 minutes of Bible reading and prayer, every day. For some people, they are disciplined enough to accomplish this, but let's say that you have never been very disciplined in this area of spiritual growth. Lower that goal down to 15 minutes a day for 4 days a week. Chances are that you will end up meeting and surpassing this lowered expectation. Once you can reach this lower goal at a consistent level, then set a new goal of maybe 20 minutes a day for 5 days a week, and so on.
  2. Giving. You know that you should be giving at least a tithe of your income to your local church, but you have never been able to reach that goal. Lower that expectation down so that you are giving something. Try 3% or 5% just to get moving in this area of investing in God's Kingdom. As you meet or surpass this lowered expectation, then slowly move up 1% every few months until you can get yourself to the level of the tithe. Financial planners use this technique all the time to get their clients moving forward with their retirement planning and it works.
  3. Personal Finances. Let's say you've never been very consistent with saving money for an emergency fund. You've had goals in the past of saving $500 to $1,000 a month but have failed miserably. Lower that expectation down to just $100 a month and automate the process by setting up an online savings account, having that small amount auto-drafted from your checking account. As you are able to meet this lower goal consistently, then bump that number up to $200 and so on.
OK, so in the world of dating, you may not want to lower your expectations to just date anything with a pulse, but as you work through the various steps in accomplishing your major goals, don't seek perfection at each step. Rather, pursue consistent action and an attitude of "this is good enough for right now." As you gain consistency in your lowered expectations, a strange thing happens - you are able to accomplish so much more. I would encourage you to just getting moving, today!

So, in what areas do you need to lower some of your expectations in order to just get moving on your goals? Have you ever lowered your expectations in goal-setting and what were your results?

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