The Blog

Could Your Goals Be Getting in the Way of Your Life?

So it happened again.  For the better part of two weeks, I found myself planted in front of the television from 7-9 pm watching the Winter Olympics.  I had absolutely no intention on doing this.  In fact, right before they began, I had basically zero interest and even remember thinking this would be the year I would stop watching.

Then on the second day after finishing what was left on the DVR, I stumbled upon the slopestyle snowboarding competition.  Here were these guys literally flying around, twisting and turning in every imaginable direction, all trying to outdo one another.  Quite the spectacle for those of us over 40.  Anyway, this 17-year-old kid from Colorado named Red Gerard won gold that night and I was once again hooked.

A week or so later, shortly after watching Lindsey Vonn make what was her bronze medal run in the downhill, I started to think about why I got caught up in these Winter Games once again.

Part of it is the my country vs. your country thing.  Learning more about the lives of your fellow Americans who are at the very top of their sport and the obstacles they had to overcome is always a compelling story.

They also take me back to a time when sport and competition were the central point in my life.  Make no mistake, I was nowhere near Olympic caliber but I did manage to successfully compete at the Division 1 level in cross-country and track.  My running heydays were some of the best years of my life and while I would not trade them for anything, I would not want to go back either.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the competition, the training, the making and achieving of goals and the sense of accomplishment when it all came together, my teammates, the road trips, all those who helped me along the way, and even all of the additional hard work that went along with it.

In fact, I thrived on it.  What I didn’t realize at the time was I didn’t have much of a life outside of my running circle.  At the time, I was fine with that.  I loved what I was doing and pursuing and what I was gaining was worth the cost of what I was giving up.

I’m regularly asked if I ever get the itch to run competitively again, and without hesitation my answer is always “no.”  Why?  Because I’m all too aware of what’s involved to get back there.  The time, effort, sacrifice, pain, and almost-certain looming disappointments are more than I am willing to endure at this point in my life.

And in that moment I realized why the Olympics continue to grab my attention every couple of years.  It’s nothing more than being able to watch others excel at the highest level and yet refreshing to not feel the need to be doing it myself anymore.  In other words, it’s a relief that my goals no longer get in the way of my life.

So why did I just spend the time telling you this little story?  Well, occasionally I’ll run into clients or even folks I meet on the street whose well-intentioned health and fitness goals start to take over their lives.  These tend to be aggressive outcome based types of goals, such as a certain body weight or body fat percentage.

Let me be clear.  I am NOT saying people should not have these types of goals.  What I am saying is these types of goals tend to be very demanding, especially as one gets closer to their stated goal.

There are two basic principles when it comes to fat and weight loss:

  1. If you want to make further changes to your body, you’ll need to make further changes to your behaviors.
  2. The leaner you want to get, the more behaviors you’ll have to change.

Basically, doing more of some things and doing less of other things.  Often times, this can be great on many levels.  It only becomes not so great when the pursuit of the goal gets in the way of living a happy, well-rounded life.

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