Goal Tending - Valerie Bock blog entry #8, August 28


Goal Tending

Today we were to turn in our “Bingo” cards – sheets with a matrix of various suggestions for “extra-curricular” things we can (and probably should) be doing in concert with the Challenge to improve our health and fitness. I’ve done a bunch of the things on the list, and also not done some of the stuff. We also received another nudge to turn in our goal sheet.

I’m feeling some resistance, and I think it has everything to do with knowing something about who I am. I am a process girl. I am intellectually on board with the notion that goal setting is important, and that “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will you there.” But honestly, I would not have had all of the interesting experiences that make me who I am had I been strongly focused on a set of career goals, and my “fitness path” has been similar to my work path. Life just keeps putting interesting options in front of me, and they have often been things I never had any idea existed, let alone things I was actively working toward. So I really liked this post by James Clear: Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. (Hat tip to my pal Sue, who posted ii on her FB last week, thus providing me with a bit of authoritative prose behind my sorta unorganized feelings on this topic!)

Spoiler alert: the “This” Clear is talking about is setting up systems.

What I am enjoying about the Challenge is that it is a system, and it’s not even one I had to design for myself! All I have to do is commit to showing up, and people who know what they are doing walk me through activities designed to help me build strength, endurance, and hey, as of today, agility! (Do check out the video for all the fancy footwork they had us do today!) I have resisted setting goals for this experience, because truly, all I really want to do is to see what happens if I follow through. I do not want to attach myself to a desired outcome like a weight goal or a waistline measurement. Or even, really, the capacity to drink 15 million gallons 64 ounces of water a day.

We have been encouraged to set S.M.A.R.T goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. I’ve designed employee training programs which do all that, so it’s not as if I think this is a bad approach! I have nothing but respect for my fellow challenge mates who have done the work of setting their goals, and hence get to enjoy the experience of seeing themselves draw closer to them.

But really, all I wanna do is stick with the system, and notice appreciatively as I find I can do more reps, or lift more weight, or run a little faster. I trust the process. I want to put more time and effort into exercise, try some new things, pay better attention to what I eat and drink. All of that is built into the program, no goal setting required. Feeling this way may have something to do with not wanting to feel I’ve “failed.” But I don’t actually think it’s possible to fail a program like this. Every single person who goes into this Challenge will come out with some new and/or enhanced abilities, and hopefully a taste for being more active. We will also have been introduced to a range of tools for helping us track and attend to our activity and our nutrition. Some will have set and met some fitness goals. It’s all good. Paying attention to what of the tools we are exposed to we really like, what really works for us, and what we’re willing to make the effort to continue will help us sustain our hard-won new fitness levels when this particular system disappears from our lives this winter.

I’m aware that mine is something of a minority view. It would be very cool if a challenge participant in the “goals are my best friend” camp would write their thoughts for us to share in this space, perhaps as a guest blogger? Anybody up for this challenge?

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