Having goals is such a great way to improve your health and fitness level. Setting small, achievable goals can help you continue to move in the right direction, keep you motivated, and make lifestyle changes doable! However, goals that are unrealistic or too big can derail your progress and make you feel like a failure. This is something that I constantly have to work on with myself and with many of my clients
We want to do it all-succeed at our job, be a great parent, spouse, friend, eat well, exercise, drive our kids everywhere they need to be, volunteer, sleep the recommended amount, keep our house clean and organized, spend time on mental/spiritual health, be able to stop and smell the roses...and the list goes on. We are constantly busy and constantly trying to do everything well. We barely survive the week only to have an unattainable to do list on the weekend, and stress out about not having the time to get it done. This “over-functioning” can really get in the way of being healthy and making forward progress because it adds stress, anxiety, fatigue and decreases motivation.
Setting goals is hard for most people because it has to do with your expectations of what you can realistically accomplish. My husband always chuckles when I try to fit one more thing in my crazy day with the optimism that tomorrow will be less crazy, and I can surely make it through this one crazy day. The reality is that I only have 24 hours a day and can only do so much. My expectation of being able to get everything on my list done is not reality. That expectation is what I need to change, because I can’t add more hours into the day.
The same goes for eating well and exercise. I often hear about people wanting to start an exercise program when they have time, or when they are in a certain season of their life or when they get in shape enough to exercise (catch 22 isn’t it?). The reality is that you may never have the time or be fit enough to feel comfortable starting to exercise.
You can change your expectations and make exercise fit into your day somewhere, and get started even if you are not right where you want to be. Everyone is busy, travels, has social events, and has stress. If your expectation is that you will get to a certain point in your life where you can focus on your nutrition, that may never happen. Don’t wait until you are forced to make a healthy lifestyle change! Make it a priority now, set small realistic goals and manage your expectations of what your end goal is and how quickly you can accomplish it.
When you are feeling like you are failing, take a second to stop and evaluate your expectations of yourself. You can start by asking these questions:
1. Who set this goal?
2. Why did I/they set this goal?
3. Is it something I know I can achieve?
4. Why am I not achieving my goal?
5. Are my daily habits helping me get closer to my goal?
Often, we are chasing a goal or expectation that we set for ourselves that is unrealistic or too big, too fast. And often, we are in this cycle of habits and expectations that prevent us from ever attaining our goal. If you want to change something or achieve something, make sure it is achievable, know that you won’t be perfect getting there, and make sure your expectations and daily habits are helping you reach your goal, not keeping you from ever getting there!
Cassie Dimmick, MS, RD, CSSD