I stink at goal setting but I have a few

Friday, May 28, 2010

I stink at goal setting. I will spend time on thinking up goals and write them down on here and promise accountability. Things like cutting down on salt, trying a new DVD, researching new light recipes or bike this many miles or ST this many days. Then a few weeks later I will be on my page and glance at those goals and think - huh am I on my page - that sounds like a good goal. Total loss of focus.

I know that goal setting is crucial to many people - they set up weekly, monthly goals and then track themselves for a realistic snapshot of their progress. God bless you all that do that. I would make them, never think to look at them again and then struggle to find where I listed them - blog? page? Comment to someone? Then I would feel guilty about not following through. I have children - they give me enough reasons to feel guilty to fill my week already - I need no more sources of guilt.

I do make general goals of losing weight for graduation or reunion - or see when I fit into a favorite outfit. But again they are just general and I don't get hung up on them. (I was psyched though in all honesty when I had a goal of getting to 160 for my daughter's graduation and that day when I left I weighed 159.8. I felt like it was a gift from the scale god to have a good weekend - and I did).

I also plan for my week. I always have an idea of what meals will be like for today and tomorrow and I try to picture my week and what days I can slot in exercise. But these to me are planning tools and not goals. They fall under daily maintenance.

In truth (for me and me only) I have a problem with goals. If I don't make that goal what do I do - turn around and eat Triscuits? Give up? Eat bonbons? And really this is Spark lifestyle not Spark Olympics. I am not doing this to impress myself or anyone else or to compete with anyone. As I read on INDYGIRL's page - you don't have to be perfect you just have to stick with it. So if I mess up a day or week or if someone is sick or is in exams or if I get only 30 minutes on the elliptical and not 40 - well that is my life. I may not move forward but I plan on sticking with it.

The other problem that I have is with big picture goals. I ask myself "what do they mean"? I have been rudely staring at women's bodies lately and thinking is that achievable? I wonder how much she weighs or how much she works out or what her body type is? Is that my goal - a body shape? Is my goal a certain weight - what do I look like there? Should I vainly be focused on shape and cellulite and does that make me a bad person? What does that weight mean for my health? Do I lower my risk of heart disease and cancer (father) at that weight? Do I lower my risk of early-onset Alzheimer's (mother) at that weight? If I don't get to a weight that makes an ideal body (and what is that anyway) or ideal health (whoa - what is that and does that include mental issues) will I be disappointed?

So short term goals I can't do because I do not have that kind of focus and long term goals are too amorphous for me to nail down what I am aiming for let alone how to achieve that aim. So what do I use for motivation and accountability? Right now for motivation I am using the old fire bucket line. Someone ahead of me on Spark (both in time and reasoning) has already done so much of the heavy lifting with their progress and thinking. They freely share that bucket of knowledge and pass it to me. I make it my own, toss it around in my head and pass it back to the next person in line. One of my most rewarding moments was when I read a comment made by a relatively new member that I was friends with (shout out to DANCERBRAT531) to someone completely new and stuck. She told them to be patient, make small adjustments, look forward not back. And there the chain moves on. The bucket so freely shared to me is being passed on. And if that is not motivating!!

Accountability. I am trying to achieve accountability by not backing down on being honest with myself. I have gained so much weight in the past while waiting to get up the nerve to weigh myself. I am trying to look into all of those dark corners where self lies are kept and be honest with myself. They only serve to hurt me in the end so I need to expose them to myself and deal with them. So yes - Mary - you do need to exercise today and yes Triscuits have calories.

So despite my goal not to have goals - I will make some goals. I will eat in a way that I can maintain and enjoy for the rest of my life. I will be careful and focus (to the extent of my capabilities) on what I eat and how much I eat. I will try not to either splurge or deny too much. I will exercise (which I truly do not like) but I will not make a strict schedule. I will keep trying to find a fitness activity that I can become passionate about. I will not set a final weight loss target. The combined efforts of my eating and exercise will make me land somewhere. At this point that should be in a healthy BMI. I will try to be happy with that weight from an aesthetics standpoint and continually strive to make being healthy a priority.

And most of all I will continue a goal of learning more about health - both physical and spiritual. I am so fortunate and I need to cultivate an inner world of thankfulness and calm.

Update: Someone commented that they find short term goals very helpful - like what to eat today or what days do I exercise. I agree wholeheartedly. I mentally put those things in the category of planning not goal setting. And I do that. My husband and I plan what days we can work out in the evening. I plan meals and what I will eat and stock the frig. I was talking more about goals like cutting down 25% on salt or make five new light recipes.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Goals are usually not my thing. I also can't find where I wrote them! Or I write them and they sound dorky. Or they sound like someone else's goals. Or I write them and forget I wrote them. I feel constrained by planning too much. When I travel for example, I know where I am going, kind of, and just go. If I end up there, good. If I end up somewhere else, good.

    What I am not sure about is why during this journey it seems like I am more comfortable writing down some of my goals. I've been excited by some of them. Others have fallen by the way side. I was thinking today about how I got two videos back a few months ago and I have still not taken off the shrink wrap! How is that for a stupid decision! But then there are other things that I thought I would just "try" and have become more of a regular thing for me. Hmmmm.
    3373 days ago
  • LLTS01
    Life certainly does happen. But if I don't set goals for myself I get complacent. I don't beat up on myself but I need to have that structure because my life is crazy enough without it.

    And the goals are not about a size or a number on the scale. It's about reaching deep inside and achieving something I never thought I could achieve. I might not get here as fast as I want but I know that with running for instance, the level of stress I feel has been cut by 90%. And I have a little bit of a competitive streak. Some times in life it's about whether I have constrained myself with my head or whether I really truly have limitations that prevent me from doing what I would like to do.
    That's all- I would prefer no what if's. I already have enough of those.
    3373 days ago
  • REJ7777
    Thank you for writing this blog! I thought I was the only one who has problems setting goals. When I decided to work on my health, I did know that I wanted to hike again. But I didn't know how long it would take. Healthy eating is also part of my plan, in general. My goals are rather "fluid". If I reach a healthy weight in 2 years or in 5 years doesn't matter as much as attaining it. I do have one very important goal though, and that is to maintain a healthy weight after I attain it! I'm really, really determined to maintain afterwards!!!

    I always enjoy your blogs! Thank you for passing on your bucket of knowledge. emoticon
    3373 days ago
    Well said, Mary. Thanks for the inspiration (and for the connection with the C 2 5K Team for helping me meet one of my goals).

    3373 days ago
    The thing about goals? Life happens and the goals need adjusting! Like, regularly! emoticon

    So... good for you for finding what works for you! We all have to get to that point, and not judge ourselves by the standards of others. Yes, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take care of our bodies and live our lives... but how we cajole our own unique personalities to do just that... can be night and day. What works for Mary may not work for Barb and vice versa... and you know what? That's OK!

    So, my friend... keep on thinking and figuring it out. And treat yourself well, because you are worth it! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3374 days ago
    Mary you hit it on the head. Goals is something I struggle with all the time. I'm afraid if I set them and don't meet them then what - I'm afraid I'll just give up. So I've decided to set small goals or perhaps planning is better word - daily goals. I'm with you small steps, small goals much more attainable and who know what the real weight is to be healthy.
    3374 days ago
    You always sound happy, even when you talk about stinking at something. I say out with the goals if they don't work for you. You obviously have things under control and know yourself well. Now, if you do decide to make a goal and you want someone to keep you honest about it, just let me know and I'll ask you about it every once in awhile.
    3374 days ago
    What an insightful blog entry Mary. I wholeheartedly agree with all you are saying about goals. I know that goals can be very helpful for many people, but in my eyes I feel like goals set me up for disappointment. I am making this into a slow but steady lifestyle change, not a race to see how quickly I can reach a certain weight or goal. I know that the slow changes I am making will ultimately pay off, and that satisfies me enough without making any goals. So thank you, for sharing your feelings on this topic, because I agree with what you are saying. I think you are doing a great job as it is without goals, so keep on doing what you're doing. Thank you again for inspiring me and keeping me motivated on this journey (and thanks for the shout-out!)!

    3374 days ago
    I have tried to be less rigid over the years. When I did weight watchers I ate the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner was varied. No exercise in those days as I had the children, the house and work and that was exercise enough.

    When we moved to Florida I gained an enormous amount of weight and lost it only because I had an operation and then gained it back! AGAIN! Another nurse got me hooked on aerobics and step class and then I got hooked on free weights...I can't do the aerobics any longer so I do the treadmill with my iPod and free weights...I never liked exercise, but when I added music I loved it was a different story...

    I have only two goals. A long term and then I set a short term and I try my best, but I'm not killing myself over not making them...I've lost over 30 lbs and that's good and I can maintain it. If my body allows me to loose 5 more...I'll be in heaven...but I don't stress over it...Spark People is a great support...

    I'm still a boring eater...same story...breakfast and lunch are the same and a different dinner each night, but this time I looked for alternatives to add a healthier life style...if I find one I try it if I can...
    My one and only goal that I really wanted aside from loosing weight was to get back on a horse and ride...even if its only walking around the ring on the horse...and I've done it and will continue until I can't do it any longer...

    You are doing just are going to find that you cannot meet all your goals, but the one goal you did make and may have not realized it is to just get to a healthy BMI and enjoy life and what's in it...ENJOY emoticon emoticon
    3374 days ago
    This is so true! I also have problems with too many goals (I don't make them!). I don't know what my final weight should be and I don't know how fast I will lose. I also know this isn't a race and I'm not competing with myself! So my goals are to stick with it and keep tracking and keep moving.

    I had to put a goal (weight and time-wise) into my tracker and so I picked 50 pounds to lose, but then I adjusted that a bit and now my (first) goal represents the high end of the range for a healthy BMI. Still arbitrary - I will have to see what I feel like when I get there!
    I would much rather make smaller more-achievable goals and be successful than not and beat myself up for not achieving some arbitrary numbers!

    I love this: "And really this is Spark lifestyle not Spark Olympics. I am not doing this to impress myself or anyone else or to compete with anyone. As I read on INDYGIRL's page - you don't have to be perfect you just have to stick with it."

    Better living through lower expectations! You're doing GREAT!
    3374 days ago
    For me - the goals force me to work at it - I don't always reach them all, but I get a lot more done with specific goals than I would if I didn't set any. There would be too many days that I would say - 'eh- not tonight!'
    All that being said, we are all individuals, and what works for one person may not work for ANYONE ELSE. I think we all need to take this journey - on our own - with love and encouragement from our friends!
    I love, and respect you, and your choices, as with everyone else who has responded here!
    SPARK-ON! You truly ROCK!
    3374 days ago
    Oh so speak the truth to me and setting goals...I don't and never will because it is so much pressure.I really only have one goal and that is to fuel my body with healthy food and hopefully that will become a habit that I can live with for the rest of my life and I want to move to the best of my ability and be strong...those goals are attainable to me. I know I will trip up along the way, but that's okay because I only have to answer to me...I have my own reasons for losing weight and with all the tools and friends on SP, I know I can do it. emoticon
    3374 days ago
  • no profile photo THIAGRAM
    I think you are so on target! I feel the same way. I love reading your blogs and comments, because you have a great insight to life and a great ability to say it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3374 days ago
    This may sound stupid, but here goes...maybe you should have a goal of not setting so many goals for yourself. For someone who has difficulty with goals (myself included) the thought of so many goals and achieving them is maddening. Maybe by starting with one or two small goals and then planning your course of action and then doing it. Then you could add more small goals as you go along.

    You have set goals and achieved have lost the weight you wanted to in the designated time frame, which is HUGE. I feel you are being too hard on yourself.

    Baby steps...The ultimate goal is a healthier lifestyle and a healthier and happier you. You are planning, you are working it as best you can with what's going on in your life right now, and you're moving forward - that's the most important thing. If you're feeling discouraged and unhappy with yourself, that's not so good.

    Someone very wise once said:" be patient, make small adjustments, look forward not back". Very sound advice, I think...

    3374 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/28/2010 4:00:09 PM
  • ANDI571
    I have never been good at setting goals. It's to much pressure on me. I like to think of what I want, and then just take it one day at a time. Otherwise, I would get to discouraged. I have never been one to do a New Years Resolution.

    After looking at my summary calendar, I haven't been to good with being accountable either, so I think I will work on that.

    I don't think I will ever be one to set a definite goal though. I know what I would like to be, and hopefully will get there.

    Keep up the good work.
    3374 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/28/2010 2:00:27 PM
    I used to hate goals too, but then I learned to stop setting un-attainable ones. Now I only aim to lose 3 pounds every 2 weeks. I do daily goals, which help me stay focued instead of losing steam. I also set workout goals, just for my workout of the day. I agree that it's hard to stay focused on long term goals, so I find that setting short term ones (like daily) help alot.
    3374 days ago
    So often we say 'I want to be healthier' but we really only equate this with 'I want to be a size X again' or 'I want to weigh the same as I did at 25' or whatever. I think you've arrived at a good place, Mar - to allow yourself flexibility and room for making changes or having the 'treats' in life, and at the same time, be working toward achieving health. We all talk about how we are on a journey, but nowhere is it written this journey is a straight line, speedball express, gotta keep moving at the fastest pace possible. Myself, I see it as more of a slow gentle saunter, meandering in the right direction but with plenty of allowance for sidetrips and stops to smell the roses. Some people do better with a detailed outline for goals, timetable for achieving same, steps to reach each one, etc. Other people do all right as long as they are moving in the general direction toward their goal(s). Don't worry, Mary - you're allowed to stroll instead of sprint, and sidetrips are not only to be tolerated they are positively (pun intended) encouraged! :-)
    3374 days ago
    You sai it all Mary! I have the same problem with setting goals. I want to be healthier.

    I don't have a clue what my goal weight is .. but I do know that it has more to do with my waist size (because fat in that area causes more physical problem). Ok ... I also hate overflow around the waist because it cuts into me ... lol

    I don't care about a perfectly toned body ... just one that I'm comfortable with. I'm not going to be flashing shots of pictures of me in my undies ... lol I hope you find an exercise that you actually like ... for me, it's walking ... alone.

    I want it all to come together ... physical, mental, spiritual .. and I think it can. And I want it to be maintainable and almost effortless.

    3374 days ago
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