I’m sure this will not come as a shock but I read a lot of books about goal setting and making changes and being kind to yourself and I pick up all sorts of useful bits and pieces to help me learn to shape my days and my plans.
Some of these books are fantastic and some of them are a bit, well, unfortunate.*
Luckily, even some of the books that I find kind of questionable can offer the occasional bit of insight.
Years ago, I was reading one such book (see the asterisked note below for the link) and after wading through a lot of ‘if you want it enough, you’ll make it happen’ type of nonsense, I came upon a few ideas that I have carried forward.
One of the best of those was this phrase: ‘or something better.’
You see, given my rather fluid concept of time, combined with some of the other things I have discussed in previous posts, I always had trouble with creating goals.
I could never be sure that my goals were do-able and I couldn’t be sure that I could do them in the amount of time I had allotted.
And often, I would discover something along the way that would either change my mind about the goal OR I would miss a few steps early on that would make the goal impossible to accomplish.
The idea of ‘or something better’ helped me get around that whole fixed-mindset, what-do-I-do-with-new-information issue and be kind to myself about things that changed as I tried to do what I set out to do.
I am paraphrasing and probably butchering the initial authors’ intent but the basic idea is that, when setting a goal, you create a statement that outlines the nature of your plan and you end that statement with the phrase ‘or something better.’
If I recall correctly, a lot of the authors’ ideas seemed to circulate around the notion that the universe might manifest even more for you than you had hoped. So, you might get what you were hoping for or you might get something beyond your wildest dreams.
I, however, think of it like this:
If I can’t follow my plan, I can do something better that I hadn’t thought of until right now.
That might mean that if I can’t follow my plan to do yoga before bed, it might be better to go to sleep early, or to meditate, or do do some journaling. I can make changes to my plan for tomorrow if I need to but for today, I don’t have to just give up, I can choose something better.
Or, if I discover that I am dreading a planned strength training workout, I can choose a better way to work those muscles today – either a different workout, some yardwork that involves heavy lifting, or anything else that meets my criteria right then.
If I had set a goal for the year and things were already going off the rails, I could switch tracks and find a better destination.
I may not have bought into all of the ideas those authors were endorsing but I have gotten a lot of traction out of adding ‘or something better’ to my plans. After all, we don’t always have all of the information we need when we set out our goals or plan out our habits. Having the option of adding ‘something better’ to our plans – however we define the word better in this case – leaves us some wiggle room to make our goals and our plans serve us instead of the other way around.
So, today, I invite you to add ‘or something better’ and give yourself the joyful freedom to enhance, expand, or redirect your plans and find things that work best for you.
You are here to live your life, not just to check off a list of things that seemed like a good idea at one point.
Whether you are sticking with your plan, ditching it entirely, or adding something better, I am proud of your hard work and I offer this gold star for your efforts.
Oh, and if you haven’t managed to get started yet but you are trying to figure out what you might want to do to move your body or ease your mind this year, this star is for you, too. I count both your internal and your external efforts when I am awarding stars.
For the second year in a row, I’ll be posting a Go Team! message every day in January to encourage us as we build new habits or maintain existing ones. It’s cumbersome to try to include every possibility in every sentence so please assume that I am offering you kindness, understanding, and encouragement for your efforts right now. You matter, your needs matter, and your efforts count, no matter where you are applying them. You are doing the best you can, with the resources you have, in all kinds of difficult situations and I wish you ease. ⭐💚 PS – Some of the posts for this year may be similar to posts from last year but I think we can roll with it.
*I’m not sure how other people categorize things but I separate ‘self-help’ books from ‘personal development’ books. I enjoy books that invite you to explore ideas and examine facets of your personality to see how you might enrich and expand your life or find ease. I think of those as personal development books. I do not enjoy ‘follow this strict code that worked for one privileged person who doesn’t recognize their privilege and then, if it doesn’t work for you, you will be be criticized as not working hard enough or not wanting it enough.’ I think of those as self-help books and I am not a fan. Occasionally, one of the latter crosses my path by accident and I read it anyway to see if I can glean anything useful. This post uses one of the things I gleaned from a book in that category but I didn’t want to call them out or anything just because it wasn’t my kind of book overall, hence the choice to have a link but no title.