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."

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Yet another pearl. One step at a time, you can only lose one ay t a time.
    1918 days ago
    I just read through about 10 of your blog posts. You are a wonderful writer and all your posts are so relevant and inspiring. Congratulations on your successes and keep on sharing!
    1920 days ago
    thats so nicely explained....thanks for the beautiful blog....i simply loved it.
    1944 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. You did a great job of writing.....making a point and giving specific examples. Your method obviously worked great for you. It certainly would avoid feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Plus you make the habit and then are more likely to continue it. You are a very patient person and have done an awsome job.

    1955 days ago
    Wow, how inspirational are YOU! 170 pounds, by making small changes and keeping them up. Slow and steady ALWAYS wins the race. I bet you will be adding in strength training in no time.
    1957 days ago
    Wow, very inspiring. I wonder how you really know that something is doable and not too much? I keep tripping myself up with this...
    I also tend to not so much set goals that are too hard in themselves, but I set so many at once that I have too many, which makes it hard or impossible to reach them all.
    1959 days ago
    I think I'm going to adopt your approach. That sounds like it would work nicely :)

    1959 days ago
    emoticon Blog!!! Your "slacker" goals work for you and thats all that matters! For the record...I dont think they are slacker at all. emoticon
    1959 days ago
    I also agree that goals should be achievable. It is rare that I set goals that I do not achieve. You have been very successful reaching your goals emoticon
    1959 days ago
    I consider your approach very reasonable, not being a slacker at all. I'm a great believer in baby steps, in both diet and exercise.
    1960 days ago
    Lot to be said for goals that don't overwhelm us, that we can "see" as attainable. It really is a day by day, step by step journal no matter how we go about it. I didn't even include exercise in mine for much longer than a month so maybe I'm your competition for the "slacker" title. Liked this blog!
    1960 days ago
    Congratulations on the goals you have achieved! I hope we both have continued success!
    1960 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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