Monday, January 5, 2009

Eyes on the prize

My two weeks and one day of vacation are over, so I have to adjust myself from expectant to adaptive mode. My time is no longer my own, and the rest of a long, cold, gloomy winter looms.

At Bonjour the day of New Year’s Eve, I heard a man who was sharing his table with two older women explain what he was doing. Every year, he writes his list of goals for the new year and mails it to himself on December 31. Although he always has access to it on his computer and to the mailed printout, something about the formality of receiving mail, opening it at the end of the year, and assessing his success works for him. I may try this. If I don’t formalize what I want, the odds are excellent that I will never achieve it.

As Susie Bright points out, the goal is not what we think it is. For example, my real goal is not to lose weight. It’s to experience the health, well being, enhanced physical ability, and perhaps improved confidence that weight loss would bring. Weight loss is a step toward that objective, and understanding that may make it easier to reach. It’s not about cutting fats and carbohydrates. It’s about the freedom of feeling healthy and energized. If, to use the jargon of business borrowed in part from war, we focus on strategies and outcomes, not on tasks, how much more we might accomplish.

Beating yourself up over a failed or missed task, a slice of cake eaten, or a pound or two gained doesn’t do any good. Perhaps great people know this instinctively, and that is part of what makes them great. They “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

I don’t profess to be great, but I can stop being stubborn and refusing to set goals because I feel disappointed by setbacks and doomed to fail. Taking the weight-loss example (one of myriad possibilities), I don’t have to set a goal of losing 20 pounds and then fret when the scale is disagreeable or my clothes are uncooperative. Instead, I’ll try to think about how I feel, why I feel that way, and, most important, how I can feel better. And I can feel better by doing, not just by wishing, much as I love to dream. Dreaming is important, but so too is living.

1 comment:

  1. That's a great attitude.

    I think we focus on weight because it's easier to assess than health and well-being.