My Slacker Approach to Successful Goal Setting
Sunday, November 04, 2012
Like so much on our journeys to better health, there are many routes we can take. What works great for one person may not work at all for another. I am often impressed with the goals I see others set for themselves. I see very ambitious goals. Very detailed goals. Goals with percentages and end dates. Highly organized goals.
I, on the other hand, design my goals to be highly achievable. I never set a goal I think is going to be hard for me. Total slacker, c'est moi! But (and this is important for my progress), I build on those easy goals a bit at a time until I am setting pretty big objectives for myself that earlier I never would have seen possible to reach. But they are still goals that I am very confident I will achieve.
When I began this journey, I started out with seriously vague goals. Or maybe one quite vague goal. Eat less. That was it. Losing weight was also hoped for but at that time, I wasn't even stepping on the scale so I couldn't know for sure how much weight I was losing. However, I knew if I ate less at the size I was and at the rate of intake I had been engaging in, I would lose weight. And so the journey of 170 pounds lost began with "eat less."
I was in such bad shape that for a few weeks, maybe longer than a month, I didn't do any exercise. I knew working on eating less was all I was going to be able to easily do at the time. Eventually, I started walking 5 times a week. I decided on a little route in my neighborhood and I didn't care if it took 15 minutes or 25, that was all I was walking. Period. That was what I knew I could do at the time without it being overwhelming.
And as I lost weight and slowly got into better shape, I started making sure I was walking for at least 30 minutes so my route kept changing. But I stuck to no more than 5 times a week, because again, I wanted it to be easy to achieve. Also, as the pounds came off, I started aiming for a certain number of calories each day that I seemed to find easy to meet most days.
Eventually, I liked my walks so much that I walked every day. Then I started walking for longer periods of time or taking walks twice a day. I branched out into other exercise that was no longer torturous for me to try and that I could do on rainy or icy days when walking wasn't optimal.
So from "eat less" I arrived at eating within a range of calories to lose and now to maintain weight. From no exercise, I now have a goal of 500 minutes activity and at least 2000 calories burned per week. I always surpass my exercise objectives -- because, yes, I still keep my goals highly attainable. The dog and I walk every morning for an hour. I now loop around my fairly small subdivision in a complex pattern and I still love my walks. I recently purchased a treadmill which isn't as relaxing as my neighborhood walks, but gives me a more intense workout, so which ever "walk" I take, I am getting something very valuable. In addition, to my 7 hours of walking each week, I add some stationary bike time, step aerobics, long walks on the beach, Zumba, etc. to shoot past my 500 minutes goal.
Yes, I know, I should do strength training. One of these days, that will feel very achievable for me, and I'll get right on it, LOL. I also am making slow progress on a healthier diet but at least it is progress and all achievable. By setting my goals small and incremental, I have had very few failures and lots of success since I started my weight loss in March 2011. And the successes fueled and increased my motivation to keep making healthier choices, keep setting new goals, keep on keeping on, as they used to say back in the day.
Earlier this week, I heard Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I had forgotten what a great song that was both in music and lyrics. So I will end my post here, saying to all my friends on this journey and paraphrasing Stevie, "Sparkers, keep on sparking. No one's gonna bring me down. Oh no. Till I reach my highest ground."