We here in the United States have an unhealthy obsession with final results. Just think about most New Year’s Resolutions:
- Stay on my diet and lose (XYZ number of) pounds
- Make more money than last year.
- Get married
- Meditate at least 4 days a week.
Etc., etc., etc…
I am not in any way opposed to people setting goals and succeeding. I just think we’re going about it in an unhelpful way.
I learned this from my dog, Dante, while we were at the beach last weekend.
I took him for our daily beach walk and as usual, asked him which direction he wanted to go in once we got past the entrance to the beach. Normally when I ask, he picks a direction and we set off. This day however, he vehemently plopped his fluffy backsides down in the sand and looked at me as if to say, “Well!?!? Are you going to join me or what? Cuz I ain’t going NOWHERE.”
I obeyed, (He has me well trained.)
As we sat, I gave myself permission to be all in that current moment, Dante-style. In his world there is only now. “Now” is most often filled with smells and sounds and wonder when you’re a dog. I followed his lead. It wasn’t what I intended to do, but it was exactly what I needed. (Good boy!)
I spent some of my time at the beach vision casting for 2020, figuring out what I wanted to be intentional about as we turn the corner into a new year. As I looked at the successes I had in 2019 that I wanted to build on, it occurred to me that my best victories were all about process, not ultimate result.
One of my more influential teachers, Ron Klein, taught me that there is no such thing as failure: There are only outcomes. There are the outcomes that are what we expected them to be, and the ones that weren’t what we expected that taught us something. Armed with the mindset that we can’t fail if our goal is to learn, the process of attaining goals takes its proper place, usurping the goals we thought we wanted to accomplish and building solid growth into our lives.
Take eating goals for example: If your goal is to stick religiously to a diet and to lose XYZ number of pounds, your eyes are fixed on the end result and you are very likely to end up disappointed. As soon as you go off of your plan on that very bad day, you have “failed.” Game over. If instead your goals is to eat on a specific eating plan and keep track of what you’re doing, you make room for those bad days. When they come, you have the data that will help you “learn forward.”
You can use your energy objectively asking yourself what, in that moment of off-plan eating, felt more important than eating the way you intended. Observing your behavior objectively — as if you were sitting on the beach with it, just taking it all in — you might find that when you are tired and stressed and haven’t planned ahead, you are likely to eat off plan.
Using that data, you can determine that you need to prepare foods ahead of the week so that you will have things to “grab and go.” You can be mindful that you are vulnerable when fatigue, stress and hunger all show up at the same time. Asking yourself what you wanted the food to do for you opens you up to a plethora of options in terms of ways to get those needs met.
Best yet, you are still on track with your goals! You ate off plan, you figured out why, you made a plan for the future that will better set you up for success. You didn’t waste any time on self-shame and you are still happily learning your body and mind as regards your relationship with food. Well done!
As you think through what you want to see in your life in the coming year, I encourage you to focus on being in “now,” setting your intentions on the process you wish to get firmly in place, guided by your preferred outcome. If your process sheds greater light that alters your preferred outcomes, your desired outcomes will be even better refined.
You literally cannot lose! Congratulations! Celebrate each now as it comes, (including this one.)
If you would like help and support as you move toward your goals, please fill out the Contact Me box on this page.