I didn’t see his answer coming.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my friend, Steve, who has lost more than 130 pounds since the start of this year. He’s on an eating plan and since he started he hasn’t strayed one single time. He has no cheat days or even cheat meals.
Steve has struggled with his weight for a long time. He’s tried various diets and approaches with no success until now. Exercise is not a part of his weight loss plan, although Steve is now ramping that up.
My friend has also said that he used to be an emotional eater. If he was sad he’d eat. If he was happy he’d eat. Eating was tied to his emotions and since Steve’s an emotional guy he would eat a lot.
Steve is a new friend. I didn’t know him 130 pounds ago. I wasn’t around for the start of his journey, but I love listening to him tell his story. We both have discovered the power of Intentional Goals. One morning I asked him what made the difference this time? What made this goal intentional in a way that his others weren’t?
His answer surprised me.
Steve said the difference this time was he set a start date. At first I didn’t understand how that would matter. But, once Steve began to describe what he meant I realized he was describing the same thing I do, just differently.
This brings me to Step Three of setting Intentional Goals. I have a long history of goal failures. Those were all goals that were set based my feelings. They were also fueled by my emotions. Once those emotions faded away I had nothing to power my forward progress and the goals would end up as road kill.
Over the past several years, I’ve changed my approach to goal setting. My goals now are fewer and intentional. Without trying to create a process, I’ve created a process…for me. There are five steps. I’ve already written about the first two. Step One is deciding if an idea is worth pursuing. If an idea survives that filter, and few do for me, I then set not one, but two goals. That’s Step Two. That brings me to Step Three.
Drain the emotion.
Before explaining what this means, I should state this isn’t a linear process. Step Three is actually happening at the same time I’m working through the first two.
As I mentioned my goals used to be powered by emotions. That was fun and even exhilarating for a couple weeks. But, emotions never stay the same. What was exciting at first eventually became a little boring and then ultimately it felt like a burden.
As I’ve reworked my approach to goals I realized how important, even crucial it is, to think of the journey AFTER those initial exhilarating emotions were gone and no longer providing the fuel to move forward.
To do that I push the fast forward button and imagine how (for example) getting 20,000 steps every day would feel in six months. How would it feel when I’ve got a cold? How would it feel when a foot of snow is on the ground? How would it feel when I’m posting updates every day on Facebook and nobody cares? I need to experience those feelings now because that’s the reality of pursuing my goal. This has worked really well and helps me hit the ground running as if I’d been doing it for weeks or months already. I don’t have to worry about those early emotions fading and leaving me with no motivation.
My friend Steve did a similar thing except even better. In fact, I think it was brilliant. This is where his answer “set a start date” makes sense.
As Steve was thinking through whether to make weight loss a goal he knew it couldn’t powered by emotion if he was going to be successful. He set a target start date of January 1. I know, that feels so much like a cliche. But, here’s what Steve did that was brilliant. He made the decision in November and used all of December to get himself ready for the journey.
He practiced what his new reality was going to be like on this eating plan. He thought through those situations where he knew he could be tempted to stray and cheat. He figured out, in advance, how he would handle as many of those situations as he could think of. He spent an entire month draining the emotion and preparing his mind to stay on track regardless of how he might feel.
He started January 1 and hasn’t strayed once. I started my 20k One Year Step Journey on September 1 and haven’t missed a day. Both of us are not relying on emotion to carry us through. We drained that out of the fuel tank before we even started.
But, here’s the thing. Both of us are more excited today about the journey we’re on than when we started or even when we initially considered making it a goal. The momentum of success provides an excitement that is even more satisfying than any “let’s get started” emotion I’ve ever experienced.
We drained the emotion and it’s been replaced by something far better and far more satisfying.
30 DAY FITNESS CHALLENGE
If you struggle with making fitness stick you can change that today. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you begin building a fitness habit that creates fitness momentum which eventually leads to fitness transformation.
Walking is fitness hiding in plain sight. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set the perfect Fitbit goal for you. The Challenge includes a contract you can make with yourself. That might sound cheesy, but having a signed piece of paper is a powerful motivator on those days when you just don’t feel like it.
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If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
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Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.
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