Friday, March 18, 2011

Rev up your goal commitment with RPM

   This is a transcript of the speech I gave last night, winning second place in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest (for Area F3 in District 27):

   Each and every one of us, Mr. Contestmaster, fellow Toastmasters, honored guests, and yes even I myself, ought to be committed... to our goals.

   We've all heard time and time again, how important it is to have goals, write them down, make sure they're "SMART" goals, and track our progress.  BUT... raise your hand if you have had a goal where you Just Didn't Wanna do the work.  Yes, sometimes the work is tedious, and there’s something else you'd rather do.  So how *do* you light that "fire in your belly"?  Not the kind you get from too much corned beef and cabbage, but the kind that makes your heart *want* and your brain *remember* to make progress.  You can rrrrrev up your commitment, with RPM - not revolutions per minute, but three easy techniques we can all use.

   First, R stands for three things: Repetition, Repetition, and, can anyone guess, that’s right, Repetition!  This helps keep your goals in the front of your mind, so you don't miss an opportunity to make progress, or accidentally do something that hurts your goal.

   The easiest form is a simple reminder.  Just write your goal down, very briefly, such as Lose Ten Pounds.  Okay, maybe thirty.  Then put it somewhere you'll see it often.  For that one, maybe... the refrigerator door!

   To kick it up a notch, though, harness the power of positive thinking, with a daily affirmation.  The first step is to go to a mirror.  Generally I suggest you dress first, but for weight loss goals, maybe not!

   Look deeeep into your eyes, with a steely gaze, and affirm that you *will* accomplish your goal, such as... "I *WILL* win the state yodeling championship!"

   Next, for an extra punch, do this with me now.... *close* your eyes and *visualize* your moment of glory, up on the stage, as they hand you the coveted Golden Lederhosen!  And the crowd goes wild!  YAAAAH!

   Speaking of crowds, P stands for Publicity.  Enlist the help of your friends, relatives, and colleagues, by simply telling them what you're going to do.  You can even enlist total strangers, by tweeting or blogging about it, or putting an update on Facebook or LinkedIn.  They don't need to do anything more.  Better yet, *you* don't need to do anything more -- just remember that you told them, and your own ego will apply the pressure.  After all, you don't want to let down your adoring fans, do you?

   Raise your hand if you’ve ever told someone about a goal.  Now *leave* it up if you felt more committed to it afterward.  Those of you who didn’t raise your hands, maybe it’s time to start telling people your goals.  I’ll give you an example.  Hi Joe, how ya doin’?  Whatcha been up to?  Hey, that sounds like fun!  Oh, me?  I’ve been preparing to win the Area Speech Contest!

   But that doesn’t mean I have a goal of speaking for The M Word, which is Money, as in, put it where your mouth is.  Raise your hand if you really like to spend money.  Your *own* money!  Go ahead and do it.  Buy the equipment, rent the space, and take the training classes.  Then you won't want that money to go to waste!

 "Validating sunk costs", as economists call it, can be a very powerful force.  Just be careful, because sometimes it can be a fallacy, a logical error, tricking you into sticking with something that is *no longer* worth doing.  In the worst case, you have to recognize that, and cut your losses: sell the chainsaws and chisels, sublet the two-story walk-in freezer, and maybe you can train other people to carve prize-winning giant ice sculptures.  Who knows, you might even find you like teaching better than sculpting!  You may be out a little money in the end, but just chalk it up to a lesson learned.

   So, what lesson have you learned here today?  When you Just Don’t Wanna do the work, to make progress on your goals, you can rrrrev up your commitment, with R-P-M: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Publicity, and Money!

   Mr. Contestmaster....

   Final notes:

  • The "corned beef and cabbage" reference was because the contest happened to be on St. Patrick's Day.
  • The "Your *own* money!" bit was a total ad-lib, because I saw some people's hands were up.  Tip: if you're ever tempted to ad-lib, make SURE it's something you can say VERY quickly, and not branch off on time-consuming tangents!
  • This was the first time I tried estimating the word count to fit in the time allowed.  (That's five to seven minutes.  I aimed for six, and ended while the five-minute green light had been on for what felt like almost a minute.  The six-minute yellow light had not yet come on.)  It turns out that my rough guesstimate of two words per second is just about spot-on, after including the pauses for laughs, pauses for effect, pauses for people to put their hands up, and the eternal-seeming pause while I tried to remember the fourth paragraph!
  • But at least when I got back to my seat and checked over my script, it turned out I hadn't forgotten anything.  :-)

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