The Bright Line: Why you want it, how to get it

The Bright Line: Why you want it and how to get it

bright lineYou’ve heard of the bright light, right? You know, the one everyone sees when they’re close to death? Well, this is nothing like that. The bright line is one that will improve your life and almost certainly guarantee you more authentic joy.

What is the bright line?

If I am going to exact real change in my life I have to have clear and measurable goals, according to Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. The concept of SMART goals is crucial at this point.

  • S-Specific
  • M-Measurable
  • A-Achievable
  • R-Relevant
  • T-Time-bound

Specific goals for gaining willpower

In order to properly engage willpower, goals must have no uncertain terms. If I tend to drink too much and I fully commit to drinking with more moderation starting today, what the heck does this even mean?

How does my brain actually wrap itself around the word moderation? Moderation to you might be completely different than what moderation means to me. So a bright line (or specific) goal might be, “Starting today, I will have no more than one glass of either wine or beer per day.”

soccer goalMeasurable goals

You can certainly measure the goal I mentioned above. If I set this as my goal, I know if I’ve achieved it or not. If I have two glasses of wine in one night, I’ve failed. Simple. Measurable.

If I set a workout goal to get off the couch more, what does more even mean? But if I set it specifically at exercise three times a week, I can look at the calendar and know whether I achieved or failed that goal.

Achievable goals are important

Why set a goal that is so lofty you barely have a hope of reaching it? If I said, “Starting today, I will have no more than one glass of wine or beer per day, and I will get rid of all hard liquor in my house,” but I’ve been used to four or five stiff drinks per night for the past 10 years, I might not achieve that goal. Start with bite-sized goals that give you easy wins.

If you stick to your one glass of wine per night, you will feel pretty good about that right away, especially if you’ve been used to several drinks a night for years. If you set the goal of getting 10 minutes of exercise three times a week, that’s achievable. If you set a goal to run a 5k this weekend and you haven’t exercised in over a year, failure is imminent.

Why goals should be relevant

In her article on goal setting, Maria Corcoran says this: “Your goals need to be aligned with your company’s overall strategy. Even if I could reach the amazing goal of churning out 1,000 pizzas a day, it would not be relevant if I run a dry cleaning business.”

She goes on to say, “The relevance step is all about matching your goals to your larger organization or business unit. This means you have to understand these goals well.”

Why there must be an end

If your goals don’t have a specific start and end date, you’ll never know if you’re achieving them. If I say I’m setting the goal of only one drink per night, but I don’t say I’m starting it today, it might feel good, but only for a little while. Eventually I have to take action and start trying to achieve the goal.

If I say I want to work out three times a week, but I don’t say I’m starting today, or set a date in the future for when I’ll be working out three times a week for 30 minutes, I’ll never hit the goal.

Challenge #8: Choose your own bright line. What is it that you are committing to, when does it start and end, how many or how much, and is it achievable and relevant? Comment below with your own bright line! Doug Kisgen's back cover photoI sincerely want to know what you choose!

Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas. 

For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book now, or pre-order the paperback!


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