Have you ever set a goal and felt badly that you didn’t reach it? Do you start goals and then feel guilty if you only reach half way? As I’m sitting here eating cinnamon rolls and drinking a cup of decaf coffee, I am reading the next chapter in James Shapiro’s 1599 trying desperately to balance “learn all I can about Shakespeare before I write this book” with “actually finish this book.” Finishing my book is my next goal, but it’s not my only one. You probably have multiple goals going, too, right? Well, when I picked up these cinnamon rolls, I made an intentional choice to eat them, and doing so marks a re-defining moment in my outlook on “getting things done” and the reality of goal setting.
You see, for the past 2 1/2 years, I have had the goal to lose weight. I gained an inordinate amount of weight while I was pregnant with my oldest son, and I didn’t lose it before getting pregnant with my second son. At my heaviest, I weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 295. I estimate because my scale at the time only went up to 275, and I know I weighed more than that because at 275 my clothes fit me, and I gained enough additional weight to have to go up from a double XL to a triple XL in clothing. I wore a women’s size 25 at the store — which Target doesn’t carry, in case you’re wondering.
I distinctly remember going to the store and standing in the clothing section refusing to buy the larger size. Before anyone starts accusing me of fat shaming, let me say: All women are different sizes and healthy means something different for each person. But for me, I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t healthy. I was so unhappy that I had been treating my problems with overeating, ignoring my body, and ignoring my health. I wasn’t the best version of myself. I had heart problems, blood pressure problems, as well as digestive and skin issues that were taking over. I wasn’t paying them any attention because eating made me feel better when I didn’t like myself. When I outgrew the sizes they carry at “my store”, it was a wake up call.
It was time to accept that I had a problem and do something to change it. Now, I am decidedly the textbook example of an ENTJ/Type A personality, which means I rarely meet a problem I don’t think I can solve. And I always want it solved yesterday. So here I went, setting a goal and trying to reach it . . .
You want to talk about a whirlwind! I dove straight down the healthy diet rabbit hole. I tried juicing diets. I tried vegan diets (which I quite liked, actually), and I tried fasting. I tried smoothies. I tried pills. I tried going to the doctor’s office and signing up for that medically supported weight loss program you see all the time and wonder if it will work for you. Yep, I tried that one, too. I did Jillian Michaels workouts. I did P90X. I did Pilates, yoga, and joined three gyms. I walked on treadmills, then an elliptical, then a stationary bike. I did Couch to 5K and even completed a 5K with my then 6 year old when my baby was almost 1. I walked most of it, but I did complete it.
If it promised to make me lose weight, I probably gave it a go. What I found is that none of them worked sustainably. Not because the diet didn’t work, but because I had bad habits. I needed to change my life.
Changing my habits wasn’t easy. The three-day headache I got from going no-soda cold turkey was enough to make me never want another soft drink again in my life. Progress wasn’t fast, or pleasant.
How do I know? Well, because it’s been 2 1/2 years, I’m finally down to a size large for the first time in half a decade, and my closest family members are just now saying to me, “Hey, Cassidy, did you lose weight?” Notice they ask, because they aren’t sure if I did or not.
As I sit here eating my cinnamon rolls with my decaf coffee, I am not guilty and I am not derailed because these cinnamon rolls, along with the last two years, have taught me something.
There is only one goal you have to reach in life: Don’t quit.
Reaching your goals is not a competition.
For the past 2 1/2 years, I have lost an average of 1 pound a week to get where I am at now. I weigh 185. That’s 100 lbs in a little over two years. An entire person. An average of 50 pounds a year.
And as you might be able to tell from the math there, losing about 50 lbs a year, instead of 52, means I ate the desserts at Christmas. I also ate cheeseburgers with my granddaddy, who isn’t here to eat cheeseburgers with anymore and they were his specialty. Was I going to miss those moments in order to lose weight faster than someone else? No.
Why? Because you don’t set, or reach, life goals at the expense of the other areas in your life.
Consistency wins, not quantity.
I had to stop setting goals like “Lose 20 pounds by Christmas” or “Read 100 books this year” because I always overshot what I could actually get done. It was depressing because I desperately felt I was capable of much more than I was doing, and I wasn’t paying attention to the little wins I was achieving.
If you can say “I will make some kind of progress today,” then you win. Even if you don’t do everything that was possible — you took action and that’s a win.
I do schedule and plan with the best of them. I have weekly objectives and monthly ideal numbers surrounding my goals. It’s not that I don’t know where I want to go in specific terms, it’s just that I don’t think the numbers are anywhere nearly as important as forward motion. (I recommend something like the Free to Focus Planner if you’re a mom like me juggling several life areas at once.)
So if you’re facing a huge goal, one that seems so constantly out of reach, please give yourself grace and remember that planning and relentlessness are important but you don’t have to be better than someone else. All you have to do is take one more tiny step, and don’t quit. Whether you take a full step today. Or half step. Or shuffle. Or scoot.
Whatever you do, go forward and don’t quit. That’s the only real goal you’re chasing.
That, and one more cinnamon roll. They are the mini-ones, after all.
Perhaps more coffee, too.