Part of goal setting is deciding what you want and then having enough ambition to take steps to fulfill your purpose. People who avoid failure are more focused on protecting themselves from failure or the embarrassment of not completing the steps. On the other end of the spectrum is over ambition, setting unattainable or highly improbable goals, or trying to take risky short cuts to achieve over aggressive goals. In the middle are achievers who have a strong desire to accomplish things important or gain success from difficult tasks. Where do you fall in this spectrum?
In my last article I wrote about moving forward after mistakes. It’s hard right after making mistakes to keep going. Sometimes it requires a short period to reflect and regroup. Being fearful can cause you to procrastinate, give less effort, or even self-sabotage (FYI John Barban talks about self-sabotage in the Anything Goes Diet).
Have you ever found yourself in a diet yo-yo? If so, you probably have a sabotage point somewhere near the bottom of the yo-yo and this is important to recognize so you can move forward or as John says “instead of backing up go full steam ahead so that you never see that number again”. I like that. Full steam ahead!
Sometimes It Takes Longer
Just like anything else in life sometimes things take longer than you’d like. About 15 years ago I’d gone through the police academy with my husband and applied for a job with the Sheriff’s department the same time he did. The process to get hired in law enforcement is especially strict in California and only 1 out of 50 pass the full battery of tests.
During the evaluation process at the very end (after five months of testing and extensive background tests) right at the point before they hand you the acceptance letter I learned that I did not pass. This failure was devastating to me. I had to regroup and be happy for my husband who did pass and give him my full support for the career he was starting. I had to accept that the time was not right for me.
As I motored on with my life and retired from my software engineering job I’d realized how far I’d come in dealing with some personal issues. I had a feeling I’d finally faced enough of the issues that I might pass the law enforcement hiring processes if I tried again.
But my academy certificates had expired and I had to start the police academy again from the very beginning. This was daunting because the academy is like a mini boot camp chalk full of tests. If you fail any one test you get one chance for remediation and then if you don’t pass you are kicked out. This happens even if it’s the last test on the last day of class; all is lost. Looming overhead after the academy graduation were another six months of hiring tests and still the one testing at the end that could be my sabotage point.
I moved forward, full steam ahead, and graduated from the academy with higher honors compared to the first time through. I faced the interview at the end with the very same doctor that failed me the first time. It was actually a fun interview and I had a feeling I would pass but I had to wait two weeks until I received the answer.
It was a huge victory for me. It meant I had dealt with some serious issues in my life and won. I defeated the failure I’d carried around for ten years. I got the acceptance letter and the honor of wearing the badge and serving my community. To this day I’m extremely proud when I put on that uniform and strap on all that gear because I know how much I had to overcome to get to that point.
You Can View It as a Challenge
You might have a similar daunting road ahead of you with weight loss or a situation in your life that you want to change. You can view it as a challenge or a threat that leads to embarrassment of failure. You can associate effort on the demanding tasks with dedication, commitment, and involvement or view it as overloading and stressful. The choice for your mindset is yours.
What will you do?
On the other hand you can become over ambitious and set too high a goal or an unrealistic goal. You might then try to take short cuts to get there. Some of us do that with eating too low to try and make weight loss happen faster and it ends up backfiring. Sometimes all you really need to do is practice for a while until you have enough skill to know how to set an appropriate goal for yourself.
You Can Adjust Your Goals
You can always change your goals as you move along. I changed my goals several times after joining the Venus Index community. When I started my weight loss journey my only goal was to get down to a size 8 because that was the smallest I’d ever been as an adult. Then I changed my goals to match the Venus Index “Golden Ratio” metrics.
As I continued to lose weight I got down to a size 2-4 and got frustrated because I could not seem to get my waist down to the golden ideal.
It took me a long time to realize that I really don’t need to worry about it. I became fit and lean and I have a thick torso because of my years of heavy lifting. I needed to know that my waist wasn’t fat and the DEXA scan gave me that. The data showed that the bulk of my 11% body fat is in my arms and upper legs and that my abdominal area was 0% body fat. So I finally learned to accept the fact that this is how I am, this is the shape of my body, and it is okay. So I have learned to maintain my shape by looking in the mirror and how my clothes fit. It’s freedom to not have to rely on the scale or other metrics anymore.
Pick Realistic Goals
I would like to have a thinner waist but it would mean giving up heavy lifting and abdominal work which I love. For now I choose to maintain right where I am. At any time in the future I can change my goals again if I want to. First I would research to find out if it is a realistic goal and then I would take whatever steps are necessary to achieve it.
Tips for Goal Setting:
- Decide what you want
- Start small but keep going
- Believe in yourself
- Write down your goals
- Set small goals and accomplish them
- Do everything you can to stop procrastinating
- Dream big
- Set up your environment for success
- Set long term goals and short term goals (with realistic time frames)
- Don’t make a big deal out of each mistake
- Research to find out if your goal is attainable
- Adjust goals as needed
- Get the right tools
- Enjoy the journey
- Plan ahead
- Ask advice from people you respect (even if you don’t like them)
- Give yourself rewards for achievements (not food)
Clarify your goals
It’s important to know where you operate in the ambition spectrum so you can make necessary changes. If you are over ambitious what steps do you need to take?
If you procrastinate or self-sabotage what steps do you need to take? Is your goal realistic? These are things you can think about as you move forward in your journey. You can adjust your goals as you move along.
Once you set your goals, determine the steps you need to take, have fun and enjoy the journey.
It is never too late to follow your dreams!