“Goal clout” is an important concept to help explain why it’s been so hard for us busy women to keep up our desired behavioral goals (move more, eat better, meditate, etc.) and how we can learn to maintain them for life. Want this new trump card?
I created the goal clout concept to help women understand an essential aspect of sustaining self-care behaviors.
We rush around nonstop, scrambling to accomplish things – aiming to get the most urgent things done every day. The reality of our hectic and over committed life is that it is VERY DIFFICULT to take care of ourselves well…right?
In fact, even self-care and exercise professionals, like me, are constantly challenged to keep up our own self-care behaviors. Why should anyone be immune to this challenge? The pressured pace of our society influences us all.
Virtually everyone has tried to make lifestyle changes to take better care of ourselves many, many, many times. Yet, when life takes an unexpected turn or our kids get sick most of us don’t keep these self-care behaviors up.
So, what differentiates women who successfully stay active, eat well, and/or meditate regularly and those who do not?
It’s goal clout.
Goal clout is about a behavioral goal being so crucial to our daily effectiveness and functioning that it consistently influences our daily priorities. Goal clout gives your self-care behavior influence over your daily priorities so your self-care is no longer trumped by less essential “to dos”.
If you know that eating well during the midday gives you more energy for the afternoon, that’s a pretty compelling reason to make sure you meet that goal regularly. Thus, eating well “so I have more energy all afternoon” gives eating well goal clout. Having goal clout means you decided to 5-10 minutes to make yourself a healthy lunch the night before work because eating well may enhance your next day more than finishing the laundry.
Goal clout is directly connected to our reason(s) for participating in a self-care behavior.
Here’s an example of why Sandy’s physical activity behavior has goal clout. Sandy moves regularly because her reason for doing it is that movement immediately reduces stress and improves her mood. These enhancements, in turn, make her more effective at work and she feels that she is more patient and loving to her family. This self-care activity has a domino effect on the rest of her life.
So, when Sandy moves, she knows she is going to enjoy living her life more, in the moment. She also knows that on the days she lets other responsibilities trump her desired movement, she feels worse, has less energy, and doesn’t function as well in any of her roles and responsibilities.
Can you see why daily movement has goal clout for Sandy? It’s purpose is tied to living happier and more effectively!
Our self-care goals WILL ALWAYS compete with many other goals, priorities, and responsibilities. Everything thing we do on a daily basis is based on either a conscious or unconscious decision.
So, unless the purpose for our self-care behavior is to help us be more effective in our daily roles and responsibilities and leads to experiences that fuel energy, well-being and self-worth they can’t have goal clout. Without goal clout our motivation fades when life gets complicated.
When a behavioral goal has “clout” it feels deeply compelling to fit in and even trumps other important items on our “to do” lists. While a self-care behavior might replace something else “important” on a given day, the full return on the self-care behavior (happiness, energy, focus, patience, pride, self-worth) usually far outweighs the benefits from checking off one more item on our “to do” list.
Creating behavioral goals that have clout is a smarter strategy. But it’s not based on the luck of the draw. You have to decide you want it.