Reason #4 Why You're Stuck: Your Goal is a Wish, Not an Actual Goal
Updated: Jan 7
Ever had someone give you some tough love that you actually needed to hear?
I’ve been musing on this post for months.
This one is a “call people out on their excuses” post.
I’ve been wrestling with how to do it in a way that invites introspective conversation (logical responses) instead of having the reader put up a wall (emotional response).
Anyway, here's my attempt as some sincere questions I hope you find helpful.
YOUR MENTALITY PART 1
If we’re honest with ourselves, lack of change is usually not a matter of being unaware of what to change (ahem, exercise more often and eat better); rather the reality is we simply don’t want to change some important behaviors, or at least want the change strongly enough.
The sentiment I get often is this: “I know this behavior (whatever it is) is not helping me reach my goals but I’m not willing to change it, or at least think about changing it substantially.”
Here’s what I’m talking about:
THE TOP ELEVEN EXCUSES I GET FAIRLY REGULARLY…Plus Two Rare Bonus Ones:
I know this medication causes weight gain (or other side effects) but I am unwilling to even consider doing anything to get off the medication.
I drink a bottle of wine every night and that’s not going to change. Yes, someone actually said that to me.
I know drinking heavy on the weekend is sabotaging my goals, but I am not willing to work toward finding new friends I can associate with who do not have that behavior.
I know sugar (or artificial sweeteners) is making me soft around the midsection (and ruining my health) but I’m not willing to cut it out of my diet.
I know I respond poorly to dairy and gluten but I like them too much to find alternatives.
I’m never going to eat breakfast (or change what I eat/drink for breakfast).
I know I have time for food prep, but I’m not willing to give up my TV shows, or my…
The close cousin: I know I need to change my bedtime routine, but I’m not willing to give up my TV shows, or my…
I know I need to grocery shop more than once a week to get fresh healthful foods, but I’m not willing to do so.
I know I could shift my budget to make my health more of a priority, but my________ (vacations, sports tickets, cable subscription, large TV, eating out, smart phone apps, expensive car payments, etc.) is more important.
I know I could be giving more effort in this workout right now, but I don’t feel like it.
BONUS #1: I can only workout one hour, one time a week. What kind of workout should I do? (Hint: use that hour to figure out how to change your schedule so you can workout more than one hour a week.)
BONUS #2: I don't like eating breakfast because it involves too much chewing.
HAVE YOU EVER MADE EXCUSES LIKE THAT?
I used to do that too…ok, correction, I'm human so sometimes I still do. Are you starting to see the point of the title of this post though?
A goal is something you stop at nothing to accomplish; it’s something you re-evaluate endlessly until you figure out the small steps necessary to reach to your goal.
An unwillingness to change key behaviors makes what many people call a goal, simply a wish.
Your real goal, is actually to find ways to justify the behavior you instinctively know you shouldn’t be doing.
What's happening when you think that way is your creative, problem-solving brain is going to work pointing out why change is too hard and effort should be ceased.
Finding ways to justify the bad behavior is your actual goal!
Can you see how that's backwards?
Perhaps logically presented like the above, it can be a bit of a head scratcher why we humans behave the way we do…but we all do it don’t we?
Why? I think the answer has at least a two-parts:
FIRST: OUR GENUINE (AND HEALTHY) NEED FOR DOWNTIME, SABOTAGES US
You're not weird for wanting (it's fair to say "needing") to decompress at the end of the day.
However, we often have an emotional attachment to “creature comforts,” or routines, to the short-lived hormonal rush that comes with anticipation, and saying yes in the moment.
We tell ourselves the health diminishing choice isn’t so bad (hello smoking) and then we justify our less-than-stellar behavior by telling ourselves we need a break; we need some source of enjoyment in an otherwise challenging day, week, month, life, whatever.
Note: That doesn’t mean we can never enjoy our creature comforts (ok maybe not smoking), but how do we aim ourselves in a better direction? I’ll cover that in my next post.
SECOND: WE QUESTION IF WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
If we're being honest with ourselves, I think a layer deeper here is we run after "bad goals" because on some level we’re afraid we can’t really accomplish our wish.
By making a wish into a goal, we may realize the journey is too hard for us and we’ll be exposed as a failure. “If I declare to others that I’ll _____________ and don’t, I’ll be seen as a failure, right?”
Maybe that's what's really holding you back, but what if that wasn't true?
QUESTIONS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE
If any of the above sounds like you, and you’re ready to back away from absolute statements, and look for solutions rather than point out obstacles, if you’re ready to move some wishes to the goal category, here’s a few ways to start to shift your thinking, and thereby your behavior.
Dream Without Fear:
If you knew you could accomplish your health goals, when would you start?
Who would you reach out to?
What plans would you put into motion?
What obstacles would you prepare for?
What behaviors do you know will have to be replaced with better ones and how will you be prepared for the inevitable emotions of change?
Remember Failure is a Event, Not a Identity:
There’s a big difference between failing, and being a failure.
No successful person arrives anywhere without failing, no one.
Question to ponder: Who do you cheer for, the person who’s been knocked down and gets up to try again, or the person never stepped into the arena in the first place?
We're inspired by overcomers--people with dirt on their face, and challenges in their past, people who faced something difficult, and won.
That could be you.
You won't win without some setbacks, but you assuredly won't win without trying.
Name one absolute statement you’ve made about your behaviors (I am, I'm not, I can't, I won't, it is always, it is never, etc) and entrust that excuse it to someone who has your best interests at heart.
Ask them to call you out on it and help you work through changing that. Maybe you even hire a coach or health professional to help you turn your wishes into actual goals.
One of the greatest things in the world is to know you’re moving in a direction you’re excited about, to know you’re becoming someone you’ve always wanted to be.
That journey is what life is all about; it’s a journey of discovery. That’s what keeps life interesting.
Stop yourself when you make an excuse this week.
And check out the next post when I’ll try to ask you some more thoughtful questions.
Or, if you already have and want to schedule yourself a time to chat, click here.
Glad to be part of your journey,
PS. Curious about the work I do? Check this out.