I failed, again. I had set myself on a goal of cutting out all evening eating, but I caved in. How can I, a nutritionist and personal trainer expect my clients to be perfect if I can’t on mine? The reality is…..I don’t expect perfection, from myself or anyone else. Want to know why? Because we’re all human, and it’s impossible to be perfect!
I just recently heard back from a client who reached out stating she had hesitated because she was failing each week, and wasn’t happy to admit that. My first thought was we needed to make this more achievable for her.
We set goals because we see bigger and better things ahead for us. We want to improve our health, jobs, homes and relationships to be uber amazing and flawless. But here’s the reality people! We aren’t perfect so our lives won’t be. It’s that simple! Now let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals for ourselves. The problem lies in our expectation of perfection and short termed achievement. We have to recognize that when we start working towards a goal that the rest of our lives don’t stop so the goal can be our only purpose. We still have to go to work, school, look after family, take the dog to the vet, etc. Failure happens when we expect perfection, and it’s just not possible.
My suggestion is to take imperfect action. Instead of changing everything about your diet, change 3 things. It can be as simple as each day drink more water, eat more vegetables and reduce the number of times you go out for dinner or order take-out in a week. Yes, this might mean you are still consuming 3 cups of coffee or eating that bagel for breakfast, but reducing those things might be the next step you take, not the first one. It’s okay to need to do things slower. The end goal is the end goal, not the result you expect in 24 hours, 1 week or 1 month. Set a pace that you can achieve so the feelings of failure don’t sabotage you completely.
If you came to me with a goal to run a marathon next month and currently you are only going for a walk with your dog daily for 15 minutes, I’d tell you we need to start you with achieving a 5km run first. And from that 5km it would likely become a 10km. Then a half marathon, and then a marathon. When we set ourselves up for a goal that requires you to race from start to finish, the reality is you are likely going to fail. Keep your eyes on your end goal, but make it a journey of steps rather than a race down a major highway. You might even find that your goal changes a bit. And that’s okay too! What if you get running and you find it really hurts your knees? Then maybe you are better suited for a cycling goal, which is easier on those knees of yours. There are a number of cycling events that can be worked through and built on that can lead you to a goal of cycling across Canada, or Europe. It’s still a physical goal. It still will improve your health and it still is a major accomplishment.
Your health focused goals are no different than a career goal. Getting out of college or university and expecting a management position is just unrealistic. Most will begin on the first step of their career and work their way up that ladder. Changing positions and companies might be part of that journey to the dream job, and that’s okay. That’s no different than switching from a marathon goal to a 2-day cycling tour goal. It’s still the same end result, better job, better health and knowing you grew personally or professionally along the way!