Why is thinking about what we want to do not enough?
You may be thinking: “I don’t have time to write goals, I don’t know how to write goals, what if I write it and I don’t do it, then I’ll be a failure, I can’t add one more thing to do to my life, it won’t help anyway” . . . notice how the mind spins, and chatters incessantly.
This in essence is why goals, affirmations, mantras work. It focuses the inner chatter, the inner spin in a positive direction. We become mindful or aware of our mind, our thoughts and then we can change our responses, change our actions. Yes – an oversimplification.
Writing the goals and action steps down is making a commitment with yourself to focus your actions, your choices, your thoughts. All of a sudden there is time. A reality I learned in my 20’s – I have time to do everything I WANT TO DO!
Let me tell you the story: I was an officer in the USAF (After college I was accepted into the USAF Dietetic Internship Program – then a three year commitment) and had a requirement to run a mile in a certain amount of time to prove my fitness. Now I was a bike rider, swimmer, walker, hiker – not a runner. So I learned to run and others noticed I was fast. I was recruited for the hospital softball team – not because I had any experience at team sports, but because I could run fast, and hit further than expected. I started running through the flower fields in local races. My times kept improving and I was placing in these small races. I ran a ½ marathon. Then came the question – are you going to do a full marathon? I didn’t think I had time to train. I didn’t know what it would really take to train. I didn’t know if I had the stamina to finish. (hear the mind chatter?)
So I can’t really tell you how I decided, however at some point I made the choice and set the goal to run the Honolulu marathon in December. My rationale – if I was going to run that long it needed to be a beautiful course and somewhere I hadn’t been before. All of a sudden I was up in the dark and outside running every morning. Friends helped with training – longer runs, sprint/interval training, mind focus, knee injury and logging in 60 miles/week. The result, I ran the marathon and finished.
What I learned – setting a goal worked. Upon reflection I realized that finishing the goal was not where I lived life. I lived in the process of reaching the goal, in the learning – in focusing my mind, in accepting help and encouragement, in knowing that I could do my best.
The goal is not what you do; it’s where you want to be. The steps, the actions, the thoughts are how you reach the goal. So write the over-arching goal and then write monthly steps to get there. Make the goal as measurable as possible . . .
Example: “eating healthier” is vague, so start with “decreasing sodas or eliminate sodas and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables”. Then write at least three steps for each month.
1st month steps:
1. Keep a food log of the number of sodas (ounces) you consume a day
2. Decrease sodas to one 12 oz. can per day
3. Keep a log of the number of meals and snacks eaten in restaurants/stores
4. Add fresh vegetables and fruits (not white potatoes) to six meals per week
2nd month steps:
1. Decrease sodas to one 12 oz. can every other day or reduce to one can/week, or eliminate sodas from daily intake.
2. Add fresh vegetables and fruits (not white potatoes to six more meals/week
3. Taste one new vegetable and fruit each week.
Once you’re comfortable and confident with your new eating choices, write a new goal.
Use this form to help you get started on your wellness journey.
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