Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My opinion about setting goals

I know some people who won't tell you they set a goal out of fear they might not succeed. For instance, I have a friend who is going back to school to get her Bachelor's Degree in nursing, but she doesn't want anyone to know (except for me of course) because she's afraid she might fail. I know she won't, but that's beside the point. 

I'm not sure I agree with this strategy, although it is what it is. On the contrary, I had another friend several years ago who was obese. She decided she was going to go on this diet. To me the diet seemed a little extreme, as it was far more restrictive than the diet I live by. However, it is what she decided to do and I wasn't going to begin playing devil's advocate with her self esteem. 

This was her New Year's resolution. I remember talking to her about it. She was so excited she was giddy. A week later she stopped talking about it. It was never brought up again. She did not lose any weight. As a matter of fact, she is heavier now than she was then. 

I'm not criticizing her. I don't judge other people. I'm just making an example to prove my point. My point is that I believe that you should find a path someplace in between gloating about your goal and keeping your goals a secret. 

Last year I told my friends I was going to lose weight. They all told me I would fail. My wife didn't say I would fail, but she gave me that look of annoyance. I think she gets annoyed because, when I'm dieting, I eat foods that aren't things that she usually buys, such as cottage cheese, cheese sticks, protein powder, and other sources of protein. They are expensive, or more expensive than what she normally buys. 

But that was a year ago. My brother in law was more blunt, as he said: "Most New Year's Resolutions fail, and so you're probably going to fail too." He wasn't being mean, he was just saying. He was speaking the truth. He was being a literalist. He was being a realist. And, as a guy capable of reading another guy's intent, I was fine by it. 

But his words became my inspiration. I was going to prove him wrong. I was going to set an example for everyone else. And I did it. I accomplished my goal. I lost 30 pounds last year. And my wife bought some stuff for me, and sometimes I had to go to the store and get it myself. But I made it through the year. 

I think it was the 9th grade when my English teacher had everyone write a goals on a note card for one year, five years, and 20 years. I don't remember what I put down for the other goals, but for 20 years I wrote: "I want to be a writer."

At the end of the year she passed out these cards again. She asked us to turn the card over and write goals again. We did. For 20 years I wrote, "I want to be a writer." When everyone else read their old and new goals, I was the only one who did not change my goal. Her point was that most of us have goals that change throughout the course of our lives. We all set goals, although, as life moves forward, most of us fail at our goals -- yet we keep going. We set new goals. 

I decided right then and there that I was going to accomplish my goals. I was going to be a writer no matter what it took.  I was thinking about a novel, but I will settle with blogging. I will settle with writing for COPD.net and Asthma.net. 

So, last year I set a goal of losing weight. I was going to succeed no matter how hard it was. I started at 226. I got down to 220. I was stuck there for a while. It was hard to stick to it because I love to drink beer or whiskey and cokes. I decided I was going to have to incorporate this into my diet. I would have to plan and limit. I got down to 193 by November. 

I stuck with it, all the while the pessimism of my wife and brother in law were recited over and over again in that niche in the back of my mind. I used them as words of motivation. 

I don't know if I my point came across in this blog post or not. It was that, I think, it's good to set goals, and it's good to tell people about your goals -- or at least a few people. And, rather than beating yourself over the head when you fail, you should use them -- or at least their words -- as motivation to keep going. 

Rather, you are going to have set backs. You are going to have bad days. You are going to have days when you weight yourself and you gain five pounds over the past week (or in the case of January 1, 2017, ten pounds over the holidays). But then you consider the BIG PICTURE. A new day begins and you hop right back on the wagon. You keep moving toward your goal. 

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