How to achieve goals, pt 3: Chunking

When talking about goals, you have to gain clarity in the steps.  Laser beam focus (our pt 2 blog) is removing the lofty clutter of such a big goal, and chunking is allowing yourself to see the final target as a huge large completion and then chunking it down into attainable smaller portions.  Unlike laser beam focus where you are just trying to get good at spotting and technique, chunking is the idea that you are good and focused on doing the activity in right form, but have a huge goal you have never met before.

In running, this would be a 6 mile run for me.  Or for others a marathon.  In the kitchen setting, for some, it would be to host a dinner party for 50 people or maybe not eat out a single meal for a month.  The goal is a process of encouraging or building your wellness, and it will often be something you have never actually attained.  This is why chunking becomes so important – you may have no idea of the time frame to achieve such a goal and therefore if you don’t make it in your unknown time frame, you may feel disappointed or a failure.

In running, if my goal was to run 6 miles, the big question is “by when?”.  The next question we will talk in a later post is “why?”.  While often in athletic training you can put a time frame on a goal – a tryout, an audition, a race – when it’s a personal fitness goal, it becomes far more challenging.  This is like doing financial goals and not breaking it down by 6 months, 1 year, 2 year, 5 year and 10 year.  You may absolutely know what you want in ten years from now, but what do you want in 6 months?  And that’s why we chunk!

So for me, once my technique and running strategy improved and I knew I could run a mile.  I had to ask myself, how often this week do I want to run a mile?  4 times.  Then the next week, I had to ask, how often do I want to run a mile and how often do I want to try for 2 miles.  3x 1mile, and 1x 2miles.  I would only chunk my goals weekly slowly addressing the change in distance.  My goal wasn’t to run 6 miles that week.  It was to chunk my progression weekly.

The idea of chunking reminds of when you have piles of junk every where on your desk. It overwhelms you so much, you just throw the next stack on the growing cascade of paperwork.  Chunking is taking a set number of items and promising to address them not by the end of the day, but half by lunch and the other half by the end of the day.

Another example is my husband required patient numbers to graduate clinic.  Knowing his final goal was in the 200s, the task could seem daunting.  I mean what if only 2 patients showed up one week – that would mean it would take a 100 weeks for you to graduate! That would pretty much shut anyone down from achieving their goal.  Thus it becomes important to chunk it by WEEK, then day, then morning & afternoon.

So the best was to know where to start was by finding a number he had successfully attained in the past – 16 patients per week?  Okay, so week one the goal is 16 patients.  And with four open clinic days, that’s 4 patients per day.  We would literally stay on task for booking patients only for the following day.  So what if you got 5 booked for Monday (surpassing your goal), you STILL had to get at least 4 for Tuesday.  So if by 11a he had only seen 1 patient, he knew he had to book 3 more for the afternoon.

At the end of the week, his totals would often create a new marker – wow, I did 25 this week.  Okay, let’s do 25 next week.  However, it still didn’t work if he looked at the big picture – wow, that would still be 9 more weeks at that rate.  Again, this will shut you down.  Stay with your focus, do it well, and be in the now.  Your goal is there, it’s not going anywhere.  Unless you have a reason for the time frame (your why), then the time frame becomes a major distraction.

So while this is an awesome motivation tactic as well as way to complete the goal, this does so little if you don’t have a why or reason behind that goal.  Why only eat at home for a month? What was the reason or the need for me to run 6 miles?  Stay reading the blog as we continue in this series on achieving goals.

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