August 19

How to Avoid Derailment with Long Term Goals

Maura Marziano

This blog is part of a continuing five-part series, titled “The Pull of Change” that shares some of my experiences implementing transformational change in my personal life as well as in the business I oversee.


This post discusses how to recognize myths, stay focused, and avoid getting derailed from your goal.


Previously, we’ve covered “the tipping point,” how to strategically set goals, the importance of having a masterplan, and how to create a framework for action.


Myths and Derailment: Over-analyzation

You have your goal, measurement tools, and time frame. But are you using the right method or process?

“What about cutting out carbs instead? That seems like a straightforward technique. Am I using the right CRM? We did all this research and the team invested in the trial, but my new director just showed me a different one.”

Options make people fearful, distracted, and miserable. With so much data accessible, we see more and more people succumbing to analysis paralysis. Do your homework on tools and processes to achieve your goal, but when you find one that works, even if it isn’t perfect at first, stake your claim and plug away at it.

To correlate this to my weight loss journey, I ate what I wanted but stayed within my calorie count. Although my progress was evident, people continued to advise me. Some argued that not all calories are equal, thus my system was flawed. Some promoted cutting out specific foods, and some advised me to simply work out more. Some complained that scales aren’t accurate and weight shifts daily anyway. Maybe the calories I chose could have been leaner or produced less insulin. Maybe my scale

was a bit off. It’s better to be 90% on track than 50% from switching paths too often or 0% from never having tried. Remember, no solution yields perfect results.

Again with the guru proverbs, “Dig too many wells and you will not find water.”

People say things to throw you off course. You may second-guess yourself when progress slows. At one point, I plateaued and wanted to change my goal, which would have lowered my standards for my vision for myself. But I stuck to my plan and pushed through it. Listen to your intuition and legitimate feedback, but don’t let excuses or copious options derail you.

Cheat Days

There are no real cheat days. My Fitness Pal taught me this. Let’s say you do everything right with every client you have, but you take a project for less money because it’s cool work or your client simply asks for a discount. It can’t hurt, right? That’s a cheat day. In that one job, you reset expectations for your company and your client. Retailers who have cultivated a model based on coupons and sales know this best.


This is not to say that you can never have a 2” square brownie vs. a 1” square brownie. This is not to say you cannot do a customer a favor in a time of need. This is also not to say that cheat days or fast and feast diets or coupons can’t work. But a cheat day implies that there are no consequences to your choices. Once you do a job or sell a product for less, that expectation exists and you must deal with the consequences. Once you increase your brownie serving, the desire to continue doing so sticks with you. Habits form somewhere. Consistency remains your best bet for long-term success.


Miracles, Shortcuts, and Excuses

My personal weight loss journey serves as a simplified example of transformational change on an individual level. Most challenges in the workplace involve cultural change and managing people, not just data. However, the weight loss journey has its own societal speedbumps too.


As you begin to see the fruits of your labor, others will too. Expect mixed reactions. In the weight loss journey, some may accuse you of unhealthy habits. You may discover just how much society values you based on your physical appearance. With a business change, some may contribute your hard work to someone else or chalk up your success to being in the right place at the right time. It’s difficult for people to accept the tried and true method of setting a goal, measuring progress, and maintaining a consistent method.


Our society tends to celebrate natural talent and spontaneous success over hard work.


We want to believe in miracles. We want to lose 20 pounds in two weeks in one easy step: that’s way sexier than losing 20 pounds in 40 weeks by changing one’s lifestyle. We live in a need-it-now society that has a hard time seeing beyond short-term plans and the satisfaction of buying a silver bullet. Another reason we put stock in miracles vs. hard work may lie in our fear of failure. If you don’t succeed, blame the flawed gadget or system you bought. If you didn’t increase leads, your new CRM let you down. But did you have a process for using the CRM? How long was your trial? We find ourselves spending money without making progress, and we validate our failures with excuses. To me, this suggests we’re more comfortable buying failure than we are trying for success.


Guru saying #3: “It’s easy to grow weeds, even if you try to kill them. It takes time and hard work to cultivate roses, and they still may not bloom.”


Hard and steady work disaffirms the need for a miracle. When you work hard, you admit to the world that something does not come easy for you: an unappetizing admission for most. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, talks about the difference between a growth mindset which evolves, learns, and is open to failure, and a fixed mindset which relies on innate talent, a you-either-have-it-or-you-don’t mentality, and blame and excuses.


Changing your business necessitates shifting a cultural mindset in yourself and those who work with you as well. Understand and communicate with your team that the fruits of your labor are not instantaneous.