Don't let your goals become the enemy of your success
Sunday, August 11, 2013
(This is an open letter from TaiChiDancer to himself)
Hey T.C.D., it's me, TaiChiDancer. Listen, I know I haven't always been your best friend, but I've got your back now and I have something important to say to you.
It's about all the work you've been doing in India. You've really rocked it and I'm truly impressed: 20,000 steps a day, 40 floors of stairs a day, swimming for an hour three times a week, and using your resistance bands every day, plus sticking to a vegetarian South Indian diet. The results have been amazing: 31 pounds in seven weeks. Wow.
But listen, you know you can't keep this up, right? You've had the incredible luxury of being there in India with no TV, no phone, only limited internet, and no real obligations except to eat right and exercise every day. Now you're about to come back to teaching, research, and committees (ugh), not to mention laundry, shopping, cleaning, and bills (double ugh). So there will necessarily be some changes.
TaiChi, I mention all this because I've noticed that you have this tendency to do things "all or nothing." By "all" I mean that when you start to do something you do it intensely. You took up SCUBA diving and became an instructor. You took up jogging and started training for a marathon. And when you first joined Spark you were racking up more than 100 SparkPoints a day.
But then there's the "or nothing": when you can't do something to the high levels you set for yourself, you sometimes don't do it at all. Remember how you went to the gym every day for a year and a half for 90 minutes a session, but when you didn't have the full 90 minutes to spare you wouldn't go at all? And remember when you decided that you were spending too much time on SparkPeople so you stopping logging in at all and gained back most of the weight you lost during the first year?
Remember what the SparkGuy says. Spark isn't about the big push: the marathon, the IronMan, climbing all the mountains over 4,000 feet in the NorthEast, or whatever. It is about consistent, permanent changes in the way you live your life. You made a big push for the last seven weeks and it worked out great. Good for you. But now ...
... Don't let the goals you set for yourself become the enemy of your success. You are not going to be able to go out and walk 20,000 steps every day during the school year, but that doesn't mean you should slip into "or nothing" mode. Get out and do what you can. Remember that the SparkGuy gives himself a goal of just 10 minutes of exercise every day. During the last seven weeks you've lost more than four pounds a week and you're back to where you were when you stopped logging on to Spark last fall. Great! But for the next few months, you should be happy if you just lose a pound a week or even half a pound. You'll still get there in the end.
Remember you are making lifelong changes here. They have to be sustainable. An occassional push such as happened during the last seven weeks is a great boost, but it isn't the basis of permanent change.
So, safe travels and best of luck this fall. I think some great things are happening here and people are going to be amazed. I believe in you, champ. You can do this.