It’s great to have goals in life and aim for improving yourself and your surroundings – whether it’s through studying or training to work towards your dream job; continuous DIY around the house to end up with your ideal home; or trying to eat healthy and exercise often to get your perfect body. But what happens when that study or training doesn’t pay off, or when your home handy(wo)man skills fall short of the mark and you end up doing more harm to your beloved home than good?
Striving for a particular goal can often lead to disappointment if that goal isn’t met, and often when the end goal is the only thing in focus, we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way.
Let’s look at it in terms of weight loss. We’ve all been there – summer is approaching, wedding season is hot on it’s heels, and you desperately want to lose 5kg to look hot in your bikini at the beach, not to mention looking hot at your friends wedding to upstage your ex who you haven’t since since you broke up last summer. So you try to get to the gym most days, and push yourself in a spin class so that you leave the class dripping in sweat. You count calories and look to food choices that are low fat or “diet” options, and you get annoyed when someone chooses the new burger joint for your weekly catch up with the girls, and order the only salad option while they all happily devour their burger and chips.
But for all that effort, you weigh yourself, and the scales read the same as they did yesterday. Or despite your best intentions, you end up skipping the salad and going down the burger and chips route – and why not throw in a few glasses of wine and then some cocktails afterwards as well? You then beat yourself up in the morning while trying to make yourself feel “better” by digging in to some greasy hangover food.
When we aim for a particular goal and focus solely on that one thing, we can lose sight of what else is going on in life, causing us to miss out on some of the other fun things that are happening along the way. We make choices with that end goal solely in mind, for example choosing exercise choices that result in the highest amount of calories burnt, rather than picking exercise options you actually enjoy. Likewise, eating food purely to loose weight, rather than thinking what will nourish your body and what will lead to long term health.
And when we hit a hurdle or don’t quite get to the end goal – that weight just won’t budge, or we get sick of our diet and find ourselves eating “bad” foods again or not exercising – we feel disappointed and frustrated. We feel like we have failed.
I completely understand this feeling – I use to feel it all the time myself. I use to promise myself I wouldn’t touch the cheese and bread at a friend’s party, only to spend the next day rattled with guilt when I had “just one bite” then couldn’t keep myself away from the snack table for the rest of the evening. Or I’d go to the gym for a “proper workout” rather than meeting friends for a stroll and a gossip.
It’s not easy to change your mindset to get away from these negative thoughts and patterns. So.. how do you do it?
Instead of aiming for the end goal, aim for for the journey to get there.
Be appreciative of your experiences and try to bring awareness to what is going on around you. Is it really more important that you lose a kilo or two at the expense of dinner with friends?
Exercise because you enjoy it, not because you feel like you have to.
Choose exercises you like, and exercise with friends and family to make it even more pleasurable.
Eat foods that nourish your body.
Eat mindfully and think about what you eat before you eat it – are you really hungry? Is that snack going to nourish your body, or is it going to going to bring you crashing down in an hours time.
Once you change your focus towards things you enjoy and start making choices that will benefit your long-term health rather than just a quick win, you’ll notice that you actually start to feel better, more positive, and ultimately, healthier.