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Don't let your goals become the enemy of your success

Sunday, August 11, 2013

(This is an open letter from TaiChiDancer to himself)

Dear TaiChiDancer,

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.

Keep Sparkin'.

- TaiChiDancer
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    725 days ago
    Thank you! This blog post was just what I needed just at the right time. I am also very all or nothing. A great reminder that it is okay to do things in moderation. I wish you the best on your trip back to moderation. You can do it.
    1771 days ago
  • GETTINFIT-2014

    I could have written this about myself ~ Great Blog! I'm going to paste it in my journal.


    1771 days ago
    Totally applicable to my personality. I loved this blog. I think with your self- awareness you CAN readdress the balance. Amazing progress. keep it up...forever! emoticon
    1773 days ago
    I am also an all or nothing person.
    Great post.
    1773 days ago

    and well written!
    1775 days ago
    Thank you, thank you, and thank you. Balance is such an issue. All or nothing is me. I see that many others can relate. It sounds like you've had an awesome summer. Thanks for sharing your insight.
    1775 days ago
    T.C.D.- Great blog, letter to self.
    I suspect many of us can relate.
    Congrats regarding the work you have accomplished this summer. well done.
    Like Kay said, recovery days are needed as well.

    When you mentioned sustainable goals, I thought of my garden. Funny how in my garden I am more forgiving of the ebb and flow to progress, mistakes and challenges. When it me and my fitness, I can be so harsh...hmmmm...good question.

    Thank you for believing is us, in me, in yourself...welcome home.

    1776 days ago
    Absolutely emoticon blog! I think the "all or nothing" mentality gets a lot of us! Thanks for the reminders that something is always better than nothing!
    1776 days ago
  • 68ANNE
    Spoken very truely!
    1776 days ago
    What a great summer you had! And I agree with you and your alter-ego, something is better than nothing, and it doesn't have to be all or nothing....sometimes it's about getting little bits in while we can.

    And rest and recovery days have their place too!
    1776 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about all or nothing. I seem to be in a nothing mode right now ... I'm glad you reminded me about the sparks guy and his 10 minutes.
    You must be feeling amazing ... I hope you continue to feel good and strong as you get back to life at home.
    Your time in India sounds wonderful.
    1776 days ago
    Fabulous insight, TCD. I used to do that too- all or nothing, but I'd do all for a long time then crash and burn, and do nothing. It's all about balance. Don't have to do it perfectly...just do it at all.
    1776 days ago
    Your trip to India has been rewarding for you in so many ways and to have the opportunity to remove so many of those distractions of daily living and to focus on yourself...fantastic.
    I struggle daily with that same all or nothing mind set as I let work and a longer commute and a half-finished renovation consume most of my time. Still looking for that balance.
    1776 days ago
    Great reminder!!! And wowza! 31 pounds in 7 weeks???
    1776 days ago
    That's right. It sounds like you had an experience to remember in India, but it is the daily and weekly consistent good thinking and efforts towards you health and mental health that will matter. And those small bits can add up to a much longer and healthier life. From reading this, I would guess that if you were a painter, you would use the broadest and thickest brush strokes you could come up with. More power to you. Glenn
    1776 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/11/2013 5:02:56 AM
  • KELPIE57
    Great blog! You put into words what I suspect many of us feel/do. emoticon
    1777 days ago
    Wow! Yes, you can! Great blog. Great letter to yourself. Sounds like you ha a marvelous time in India, bravo! Very smart insights. I vote you can evade the do nothings. Thanks too for the reminder to exercise at least 10 minutes a day. Your blog made me feel rewarded. Best wishes to you.
    1777 days ago
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