The other night I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion about setting goals with a group of lovely ladies from my church. I was asked, oddly enough, to cover the health and fitness aspect of goal-setting. And I had a great time. I learned a lot. I got so excited about all the different approaches I could take that I went home and burned myself out of goals until the next morning when the world once again felt big enough to handle my dreams. Or maybe it was just that I got a good night’s sleep and was no longer suffering from an extreme case of Mom Brain. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to share here what I shared there.
These are just thoughts, in no particular order, about what you might want to consider when you think about your goals and where you want to be in life. And before I share my thoughts, I want to invite you to share anything that works for you when you make goals in the comments section. (Also, don’t forget to send me recipes for SoupFest! Thanks to those who have sent them in already.)
- Identify your motivation. It can’t be based on what other people think or what other people are doing. Unless you are truly motivated by what other people think and what other people are doing.
- Realize that it is a process, a destination, something to work toward and not just something to do. “By the end of the winter I will learn how to make a delicious soup.” “By my birthday I will run a 5K.”
- Be accountable to someone or something. Let that person know what you expect from them. Should they get on your case? Do you just want to report to someone? Money is also a great way to hold yourself accountable. If you spend $30 on a race, you’re going to want to run it and run it well.
- The more specific the goal, the better. “Eat less” is not a goal. “Eat smaller portions at dinner by not keeping extra food at the table and using smaller plates” is a better goal. Or instead of “Get in shape” say “I’m going to go running 100 times.”
- There is more than one way to skin a cat. Make things easier for yourself — if running isn’t your thing, then don’t think that running is the only way you can get in shape. Spend some time identifying the things that don’t work and avoid those things — if you love cookies but think you should cut down on sweets, maybe your goal should be to avoid all sweets except cookies.
- Be adventurous. Try cooking with new ingredients, or cooking with a different method. Challenge yourself to find something that you love to eat and love to make that includes a “healthful” ingredient your normally wouldn’t use. Try different kinds of workouts. Use Youtube or other internet sources to test drive pilates or yoga before you commit to a class and find out you hate it. Play racquetball with a friend just for fun and to see if you’d like to do it more frequently.
- Respect, honor, and listen to your body. If your mouth is saying, “That was really tasty, I’d love some more,” but your body is saying, “I’m stuffed!” Listen to your body. There will be more tasty food later!
- Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Is the goal to deprive yourself of tasty food, or is it to eat a more balanced diet? Is the goal to go to the gym or is it to get in better shape?
- Remember that one step will often start an avalanche of changes. Cooking one healthy dish may get you really excited about cooking healthier meals. Cutting out your afternoon chocolate break may show you that you aren’t actually hungry at that time. Spending 15 minutes doing a strenuous activity may help you realize exercising actually gives you more energy.
- Take a holistic approach. Having too narrow a focus can be discouraging. I like to remind myself that I’m not just doing this because I want to be thin, or strong, or to improve my running times, but also because I want to be a good example to my children, and I want my body to be healthy and strong enough to serve others and fulfill my responsibilities. I don’t want worries about my body and health to occupy my mind so much that I can’t focus on living my life.
Okay, your turn now.