All my life I have eschewed the idea of goal making. Indeed, not too long I ago I said that goals were nothing but "judgment in how close you come or how far you fail." But here's the problem. In deliberately choosing to not set goals, I have wandered around in many areas of my life...including this healthy lifestyle change.
I also talked about signposts as a better metaphor. But signposts only help if you have a destination to get to. They only have meaning if you're using them to get somewhere. Otherwise you're just walking around town never knowing if you have arrived to where you want to be.
In other words, goals have a purpose, and one that I've been deliberately ignoring. Goal-making is a tool that I've not used very well, except to create a very grand expectation almost destined to fail.
So, I began to think: What if instead of one grand goal, I establish a long series of smaller goals. And what if I set several measurements of how well I'm meeting it?
And what if my end goal in this health lifestyle isn't a certain weight, but a grand accomplishment?
That's what I've been thinking over the last week.
I've always said that when I lose the weight, I will run a half marathon. No more. My goal now is to run that half marathon: June 2014. I've run the numbers backward. I need to start training in earnest no later than the first week of March 2014. I also have to get my weekly mileage up to 25 miles by then. Which means 20 miles per week by Christmas 2013, 15 by Halloween 2013 and 10 by Independence day 2013. And the grand thing of this is that, except for the race and the training in March, these can be very fluid goals. If I'm only running 12 miles by Halloween, that's close enough!
And I've applied some of the same goal making with my weight loss too. If I'm going to be running 20 miles a week by the end of the year, I must be many pounds lighter by then. My body just won't take it if I don't. So I've set a series of goals. I determined what weight by the end of the year would be exceptional, what would be good, what would be acceptable and what would be flatly unacceptable. There is a huge window between exceptional and unacceptable.
For each goal weight, I've worked backward from where I want to be by the end of the year to this week. I know how much I need to lose each week to make each goal. And I know beforehand, after this long journey, that weight loss is not linear. One week I may be set on task for exceptional, the next acceptable. Sometimes I am sure to find myself on the road to unacceptable. And along the way, I may have to reconsider and renew my many end goals. What I've set as exceptional today may be so far from where I can get in July that to keep my eye on that prize will be nothing but an exercise in frustration. So I reset my goals. Because they're mine to change. The goals, you see, become the signposts and the insight and epiphanies I have along the way become the journey
Already I know I will start of on the wrong foot. I have set Monday as my start day, with a goal of 280 pounds. When I worked out the math, I figured that I was pretty close to that weight. Well, then I replaced the battery in our bathroom scale and I found out that I was closer to 290 than I thought. As in 292. .
But...my mantra for the week has been 280. All week. When we had birthday dinner for my wife, I said 280 and skipped the cake. When my daughter and her friends wanted popcorn, I popped it...and said 280 and abstained from anything more than a handful. And so on and so forth.
And come Monday morning, I will be much closer to 280 than 292.
Will this work? Don't know. But something's gotta change. And that something is me.
at 9:05 PM