Goal Setting: A Cautionary Tale

It’s that time of year, full of snowy driveways, icy sidewalks  and new goals driving us forward.  Goal setting has been around for generations full of acronyms reminding us how to set them.  Mindtools has a website full of strategies and tips to write realistic goals that will propel you to the top in business or to the bottom range on the scale for weight loss.  However, I offer some cautionary advice when setting goals.  An article by Slate entitled Diets do not work:The thin evidence that losing weight makes you healthy, goes into depth describing the history of dieting and the reality that people face when attempting to lose weight.  Also, it touches on the dark side of goal setting.  People set goals to help them motivate towards a specific outcome.  There lays the conundrum.  Often the act of setting goals has the opposite effect.  How does that work?  Let’s look at weight loss.  Ambitiously, I set a goal to lose 10 pounds by swimsuit season.  So today, I stop eating cheese and substitute a salad and vegetables eliminating my favorite food from my diet.  Then a trudge to the gym and get on the treadmill and walk for thirty minutes.  If I repeat this process daily for months, I have a chance at losing the ten pounds so I can fit in my swimsuit.  The problem with the above scenario is the amount of mental real estate it consumes.  I’m constantly having to motivate myself to follow through.  Eventually, I tire of my diet and binge, destroying my self esteem with the perceived failure, or I start to find excuses for how to avoid exercising.  This is probably why, according to research completed by the University of Scranton, only seventy seven percent of people keep their goals for one week and only nineteen percent for two years. So what can I do?  Our minds and bodies do their best to support us with being content and happy.  Let’s face it.  My perception of dieting is not positive and I hate walking on a treadmill.  Setting effective goals that will last longer than a week, need to be built around ideas and activities that are enjoyable.  Imagine if I reframe my goal and focus on the process to obtain a healthy lifestyle.  I know I don’t like to walk on the treadmill, but I enjoy catching up with my husband and my friends while walking.  I’m not crazy about exercise, but I like a game of racquetball.  By setting goals that include activities that bring enjoyment, it is easier for me to follow through with the activity.  So set goals this time of year, but focus on enjoying the journey too.

Learn More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *