Thursday, 26 December 2013

Why you shouldn't set goals

New Year, New You Part I

New Year is on it's way and this is when we like to make resolutions and set goals, in fact, just before I sat down to write this, I had begun writing out my New Year Goal Setting Sheets for my clients.  But in thinking carefully about this blog post, I have totally changed my mind!

There will be no specific goal-setting this year.

Here's why:

If you set goals, the process of achieving these very specific and time referenced goals  (if you like SMART goal-setting) becomes purely about achieving the goal and not about the journey itself.  This makes the journey purely about the end-game rather than an enjoyable expedition in itself.  You lose focus on the present and end up living in the what ifs and whens rather than the here and now.

If you set goals and don't achieve them, it's demoralising. 

Failed goals lead to a cycle of making promises to yourself that you can't or don't achieve, followed by a period of self-loathing and disappointment before new, unrealistic goals are set and so on.

Achieving goals is no better than failing to achieve as this simply leads to a cycle of desperation to constantly achieve, a necessity to achieve, that leads to stress and anxiety to reach targets that are rarely genuinely enjoyed as the feeling when they are achieved is more often one of relief than joy.

Don't think: my life will be great when I am a size 10 or my life can begin when I have lost 2 stone or if I could only fit into those trousers I'd be happy.  Start thinking about how you want to feel right now.

How do you honestly want to live right now?

How do you honestly want to feel right now


Notice I didn't include happy in that list.  I don't believe in seeking happiness either.  Happiness is a transitory feeling that comes from experiencing the other things in the list above.  You can't just feel happy in a vacuum.  Happiness comes from feeling proud, feeling loved, feeling strong, feeling friendly, feeling helpful etc.

Happiness is part of the journey, not a destination.

And goals are a destination and they come to an end.  

Finding how you want to feel and how you want to live and living that from day to day is much more productive because it means every day is an acknowledgement of the pleasure of doing rather than aiming.

Finding the mental strength and determination to remain on the path, to continue the journey even when you have strayed from that path, is a pleasurable experience.  It brings happiness.  

Finding the joy in practising for the sake of practising, commitment to a life process with no final destination, allows you to stop and smell the flowers; it means you can genuinely enjoy the process of living the life you want to lead.

So rather than making a load of new year's resolutions this year and a set of goals you may or may not achieve, have a go at deciding what sort of person you want to be, decide on the sort of life you want to lead and find the happiness in living it!

New Year, New You Part II

So, how can you live the life you want to live, how can you be the person you want to be?

I don't think it is about setting anything in stone.  People change: what is vitally important to you when you are 5 just doesn't feature in your teens.  What's important to a twenty-something just isn't to a forty-something.  You are allowed to change your world view, your impression of someone, your desires, thoughts and ideals and you are allowed to change these whenever you like.  Forcing yourself continually along a path you hate is daft, no?

You need to have a look at your life every day.  If you hate everything about it, you must do something.  You must be proactive and make one change.  That one change will lead to more changes, guaranteed!

If you are a little dissatisfied with your life, the answer is the same.  Do something!

If you love your life, then you are probably already doing something on a regular basis.

This is a health and fitness blog so my advice is this: one of the the most effective changes you can make, with unbelievably far-reaching ripples that stretch further than you could possibly imagine, is to make a change to your health and fitness.

If you exercise regularly, you become fitter, you breathe more easily, you sleep better, you have more energy.  You have tangible things to feel proud of when you see changes in your strength and flexibility and balance and posture and yes, your waist!

If you eat healthily (I'm talking cutting processed foods and alcohol and foods high in salt and sugar) you will see amazing changes in your moods, your hormonal responses, your sleep and your energy levels and yes, your waist!

If you decide that these changes (and there are no negative results of these changes) are changes you would like to live with on a daily basis, then you make these a life change - not a short term goal-related 'diet' or 'detox' that people tamper with after Christmas.

You can do this yourself or you can ask for help.  I can offer you help in the form of nutrition counselling, personal training or FitClub.

I have FitClub members, who come to me once a week for an hour, who in 12 weeks went from not being able to do any press ups at all to being able to complete more than 10 decline pressups in a go. These clients of mine make an effort to come to FitClub even when time constraints and work commitments mean this is difficult.  This is because these clients are not goal orientated, they are life-inspired!  They are enjoying leading a fit and healthy life right now and they are don't want to give it up!

So make the best New Year's resolution you have ever made and promise to live the life you want to live and be the person you want to be!


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