I have been thinking about goals a lot lately. In fact, I think I have probably written this blog post in my mind at least 100 times over the course of the last few weeks. I have been trying to figure out when I stopped setting short term and long term goals? This question came up because my wife and I have been taking part in a Biggest Loser Competition with some friends on Facebook. Something about setting a goal focusing on losing weight has taken me back to a primal, physical, and competitive part of me that I have completely let slip away. It has me running on the treadmill at least 30 minutes a day, cutting out the unhealthy food and snacks I like to eat, and analyzing all the decisions I make to get the results I want. Having a goal to lose weight, and having to measure and that goal each week has not only awakened my competitiveness but has also sent me on an odyssey of trying to figure out where the competitive side of me has been hiding and when was the last time I was effectively setting and achieving goals.
I think this part of me has largely gone into hibernation because of being a parent and husband. When you shift the focus of your life away from yourself to focusing on those you love I think it is only natural to lose yourself a little. This is both a good thing and a bad thing as I think about it. Losing yourself to help and focus on others is a very noble, spiritual, and grown up thing to do. It feels good to focus and care for others. The downside is losing oneself can also attribute to you feeling like you are losing your own identity if you're not careful. I think this may be part of the problem I face as well as a problem that I see in many others in this stage in life. My personal goals have been replaced with one goal only, and that is survival of parenthood.
My situation is also a little more extreme given the fact that my wife Nicole is blind and relies on me to be her eyes, and Uber driver. So many of the day to day tasks that she would be able to do on her own are things that Nicole and I have to do together. Others fall completely on my shoulders entirely. Having only one parent in the home that can drive and run errands can become a challenge. Grocery shopping, taking the kids to school, running the kids to piano practice, and taking them to athletics practices are all my responsibility. Lucky for me I have an 8 min commute from our home and a job where I can slip away long enough to pick up and drive my kids to their next adventure. Somewhere in the chaos of it all, I have lost my way. I stopped setting goals and in turn, have not been pushing myself to achieve more. I still dream and think of grand ideas, but the excision of the Ideas has fallen dormant. I need to find a way to wake up the sleeping overachiever that is inside of me.
The last time I really remember having a goal achieving it was back in 2009. My wife and I decided to do the exercise program P90X. We both needed to get in shape and lose some weight and decided that we would have better luck if you both did the program together. The P90X program is an extreme home exercise regimen that is designed to take 90 days, and consists of push ups, pull ups, cross-training, weights, yoga, plyometrics, and a nutrition program to help you get in the best shape of your life. P90X is one of the hardest things I ever put myself through, but it was also an awakening for me at the time. I had set a time sensitive goal 90 days away. I had measured where I was initially with both weight, body measurements, and a fitness test so that I had a baseline for my goal. Then at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, I measured and compared the progress I had made. The program also has you keep track of your weight and reps on all the exercises, allowing you to see how much more pull-ups and pushups you can crank out after completing the program. Because the goals we had set with P90X were measurable and had been broken down into three phases it made it easy to track and keep motivated as the weight went down and the reps went up.
As I connect the dots I can see that health and fitness seem to be the secret sauce to getting me to make goals and stick with them once they are set. One major reason I think P90X worked for me is because of the data points that are being tracked and the ability to see progress in the numbers. I’m a programmer and data analyst so it isn’t surprising that the numbers would motivate me and give me something to chart and analyze. I don’t think that the numbers and the measurable data points in a goal only works for an analyst like me, I think that it is the key to making goals, and achieving them. The challenge is to finding ways to track and measure the goals we set that don’t have an easy number value like the weight on a scale. If you can’t measure and track your progress towards a long-term goal are you really going to reach it? I think the measurement and tracking increment towards a goal is the key to keeping motivated and get you back on track when life sends you off the rails.
I want to spend some more time thinking about goals and how to reimplement them into being a key driving force in my life. Let's face it you achieve 100% of the goals you never set. I think that setting daily short term goals that are measurable could be a very powerful tool if used to track and chart your way to the bigger and nearly unattainable long term goals that usually seem out of reach for us.
What is your thought on goal setting? What helps you to track and reach your goals?