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  • Writer's pictureJudy

March 21, 2021: Setting the Bar Low

I was recently reading a blog by Laura Vanderkam, author of the books on time management and productivity, where she mentioned the value of setting the bar low.

For me, this was jarring. After all, as an educator, I know the value of setting expectations high and then giving my students the skills, confidence, and support to reach those goals. It does not take much research into motivation and success and coaching to uncover mountains of material and research on the power of big goals.

So this thought of setting the bar low- I wondered if it was just a cop-out. A way to give ourselves permission to not put in the work.

As I read further, she specifically pointed out the value of setting the bar low when we were trying to build habits. You know- those things we routinely do without much thought or consideration. As Ms. Vanderkam often writes, habits are the foundational acts that allow us to reach our bigger goals.

So that got me thinking…. and I realized that in many ways, I was already setting the bar low. At least for some of the tasks that I believed must be part of my daily routine in order for me to ultimately reach my big goals. Kind of like taking baby-steps. Some of the areas in which my goals are low?

- Fitness

o While having a daily workout as part of my weekdays is one of my non-negotiable habits, I realized that I had set the bar low for what that might look like. A 15 minute session on my yoga mat, counts. A 20 minute walk around the neighborhood counts. It does not have to be an hour long session at the gym or result in me being sweaty and spent, for me to feel like I have met that daily goal.

- Writing

o Taking time every day to write is one of my non-negotiables for my work as an author. My goal is to spend time each day on each project. For this habit, I am also pretty flexible in what counts. For the manuscript I am revising, doing one chapter is a win. For the book I am drafting, getting a single page down counts.

- Reading

o As both an educator and an author, reading is critical to my work. It is also a great source of pleasure. So I have established a habit of reading every day. While reading friends’ posts on Facebook does NOT count, reading a chapter of the novel I have going or getting through one or two pages of a nonfiction book I am reading, absolutely counts.

While setting the bar low may initially sound like a cop-out, I am seeing the wisdom in it. Each time we successfully complete that task, we are strengthening that act as a habit in our lives. And our habits truly are the foundation for our bigger goals and successes!

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