I have two related questions for you about your work with dads?
- Have you experienced burnout?
- Are you process-oriented or goal-oriented?
If you’ve experienced burnout in your work with dads, it might have been caused by a hyperfocus on goal setting.
While goal setting in and of itself isn’t bad, a hyperfocus on goals can lead to burnout. That's especially true if someone or something—such as a manager or funder—set your goals for you. Goals imposed on you can reduce your motivation and lead to burnout.
To avoid burnout, focus on process rather than goals. As Brad Stulberg says in The Practice of Groundedness:
“Rather than focusing on…big goals, practice breaking them down into their component parts and then concentrate on those parts. Doing so serves as an incredibly powerful focusing mechanism. It keeps you present in the here and now and thus keeps you patient, even in the pursuit of distant goals. If you are concentrating on the work in front of you, you will be better off. This attitude…helps prevent you from trying to rush toward an outcome when taking your time is a better strategy.”
Stulberg calls this attitude a process mindset. This mindset doesn’t deny the importance of goals. It helps you reach goals by breaking them down into smaller, short-term objectives, or steps, that are self-motivating. Think of those steps as small wins. As you achieve those small wins, it’s easier to stay motivated and avoid burnout because you achieve them more often than distant goals. The small wins give you a shot of adrenaline that keeps you going, especially when you have goals that take months or years to achieve or that are ongoing.
And therein lies the beauty of small wins. Setting objectives that motivate you makes it more likely you’ll achieve your goals! That’s true even if you have the ability to set your own goals in your work with dads.
Stulberg offers the following five-step process to cultivate a process mindset:
- Set a goal. (This might be a goal imposed on you.)
- Identify the steps (small wins) that will help you hit that goal that you control.
- Put the goal aside and focus on the steps. Be present and exert as much effort as you can in taking each step.
- If you start to obsess about the goal, ask what you could do right now to help you hit it. (Hint: Sometimes, that’s nothing. Take a step back, rest, and reengage later.)
- Remember that doing things for the sake of doing them isn’t progress. It’s just doing things.
If you facilitate a fatherhood program, I have another bit of advice about the importance of mindsets. Develop a growth mindset. To learn more about how much a growth mindset can help, check out the Effective Facilitation Certificate™. This on-demand training in the Father Engagement Academy™ by National Fatherhood Initiative® covers that mindset and will help you become an even better facilitator.
How self-motivating are the goals you must hit in your work with dads?
Have you set the small wins that will motivate you on the road to hitting your goals?