There are two kinds of parents; the kind that pay for swimming lessons and the kind that push you off the dock.
Mine were of the later variety (which is probably one reason I’ve chosen to write cozy horror.) But whatever your parents’ philosophy was one thing is for sure, you are never going to learn to swim if you don’t get into the water.
It seemed appropriate to end this series on sloth and activity by pushing you off the proverbial dock.
If you’ve been dreaming on the shore, it’s time to sink, swim, or float. I suggest swimming. It’s the best way to get where you want to go. And, swimming with fins will get you there faster. Goals are the swim fins of life.
Following is an excerpt from The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Eat, Drink and Lose Weight. (All new revised edition coming soon!) The discussion is about goal setting for fitness, but the principals can be applied to anything in life.
From Chapter 4 of The Wine and Chocolate Workout:
There are lots of things to think about when goal setting. I’ve heard and observed that people tend to be more successful when they think like an overachiever in the long term but like an underachiever in the short term. Remember, training employs small steps to reach audacious goals.
So dream big, but give yourself plenty of time to get there. This is especially true when it comes to fitness. You should leave most workouts feeling tired, but energized and excited about the next one. The weekend warrior syndrome is very common, but it often leads to injuries and failure.
Is your primary goal weight loss? If you have a very high BMI (body mass index) you may definitely need to lose weight, but setting a specific number of pounds as your goal can backfire on you. How much weight your body chooses to lose in response to a change in diet and exercise isn’t something you have complete control over.
Some people will lose weight like crazy at first, then plateau. Others can’t seem to lose a pound for months then, finally, begin to lose. Others only lose a negligible amount of weight but drop four sizes and look and feel terrific. Weight loss, also, doesn’t always equate to better fitness. Muscle tissue is heavier than fat, and even your bones increase in density as you strength train, which tends to makes you heavier.
The other problem I have with making weight loss your goal is a psychological one. Marcia Weider says in her book Making Your Dreams Come True, “There’s a different kind of energy involved when moving toward what you want than there is when moving away from what you don’t want.”
One is a positive energy, with momentum that moves you forward. The other is negative energy that usually only drives you as far as you feel you need to go. As soon as you begin to feel comfortable again, you tend to slip back into the old ways that got you into trouble in the first place. You didn’t create a new you, a new adventure, a new perspective; you were just trying to troubleshoot the old one.
My dad once gave me a great analogy that applies to many of life’s problems. If you are doing one of those multi-step math problems and you get one or two steps wrong, you can’t just keep going and say to yourself, “I’ll do it right from here on in.” It won’t work. You’ll end up with the wrong answer. You have to ditch the work and start over to get it right. Sometimes you can’t just fix the problem. You have to start over and create something new in your life.
I encourage clients to set goals that they can dream about. Becoming or doing something new is exciting. Becoming a runner, a triathlete, a health food chef, or a fashionista in a size six is heady stuff. You can subscribe to magazines, find new friends with like interests and talk about your hobby until old friends get irritated. The more consumed and fascinated you become the less you will think about your waistline, and the quicker it will shrink.
Have you ever noticed how disciplined people become when they know an event is coming up that they want to look good for? They are visualizing themselves entering the event impressing everyone in attendance with how attractive they are. The problem is once the event is over, so is the discipline. Visualizing yourself as a new, fit individual and finding a long term interest that helps define you is a much better solution.Meditate on It
A common goal setting technique is to utilize the acronym SMART. The letters stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This is a great way to analyze and create a reasonable plan for your fitness program. Let’s go through them one by one.
Specific – Goals must have definition in order for us to know how to reach them. For instance, if my goal is to climb a mountain, I must first decide if I’m talking about a small, one day climb up and back or Kilimanjaro. My training and preparation would look entirely different for each of these. When someone says to me, “I want to get in shape,” or “I want to lose weight”; these are not specific goals and therefore are impossible to plan for.
Measurable – The goal must have parameters. If you’re planning to climb a local mountain, you’d better know what kind of distance and incline that you are going to attempt. You must know the path you’re going to take and where the top is. At what point can you say, “I’ve arrived”?
Attainable – Here’s where we have to be realistic. I actually had a 50-year-old, overweight woman announce to me on her first personal training appointment that she wanted me to make her look like Jennifer Lopez. This wasn’t going to happen. Whatever goals you set for yourself must include you at the end of them.
Relevant – Your goals must be relevant to your life. If you are already so busy you can barely find time to brush your teeth, running a marathon may not be a good choice for you. A series of 10K races could be much better since the training is less time consuming.
Time-bound – Goals should have calendar dates attached to them. If they don’t, we have a terrible way of procrastinating until we lose our enthusiasm and then our goals are never reachable. Make sure your time table takes all the small steps needed into consideration.
Hope these goal setting tips inspire you to dive in. The water’s fine.
To read all the posts in the 7 Deadly Sins series – Click Here.