My Journey from Discovery to Acceptance to Change
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Hope Through Authenticity

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Knowing What's Good for You Is Not Always Good for You

Goal Tracking Pros and Cons

Last week I posted my (hopefully) well thought-out goals for the next three months. I’ve finished the “aggressive actions” for most of them – I posted one of those at the bottom so you could see what I mean. Now, the question is how to accomplish these actions.

I’ve read several articles that suggest creating and keeping a goal tracker (or using one of several apps). In my usual impulsive zeal, I jumped right in. I can’t show you my personal tracker and I’ll explain why later in this post. But, here is the model I copied:

I loved it for exactly two weeks. Then I missed a few of my habits and couldn’t color in the boxes. Oh no! That “failure” turned my negativity mind into the “on” position. For the next few days, my negative thoughts were dim – just loud enough for me to hear when I missed another habit. By the end of that third week, I was missing more and more boxes and my negative voice got louder and louder. As I began to spiral, I missed more habits.

The Negative Mind Gains Volume

I made the decision to stop using the tracker at all. Sadly, I didn’t rip it up. Even though I didn’t flip to the tracker page in my calendar, subconsciously I knew it was there and it screamed accusations.

  • “You can’t even take your vitamins like a normal person.”
  • “How can you claim you want to focus on your health when you don’t drink your smoothie?”
  • “Giving up on meditation already?”
  • “You bought all those smoothie ingredients but you’re too lazy to make the smoothies – lazy and wasting money. Aren’t you proud?”

Triggered & Rebounded

The habit tracker, whether I looked at it or not, became tangible evidence that I was a disappointment, a failure. If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll know that that one word – disappoint – is a major trigger. Needless to say, I started into a downward spiral. But, after so many years of therapy, I was able to:

  1. identify the trigger (name it)
  2. “feel” the spiral (literally, I felt my heart rate increase, a tightness around my chest, a clogged throat, a loss of focus)
  3. name the emotions (disgust, sadness, anger, frustration)
  4. implement a strategy to lessen the intensity of the emotion – the first thing I did was throw the entire calendar in the garbage because I knew even if I ripped the page out, subconsciously I’d remember. The second thing I did was to buy a lovely new calendar and purple pen. With Eric Church singing in my ear, I dove into creating something better without any mention of habits at all!
  5. I chose one of the things I let slide and started it again. Within a few days I had all my habits back in place but without any acknowledgement or judgment if I missed a day.

My point is that what works for many may not work for me. I know what I need to do to be healthy – I also know that creating a way to judge myself is NOT helpful. Other people like – and need – that type of accountability. It’s ALL ABOUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOU and being HONEST ABOUT WHAT DOESN’T.

Aggressive Actions: Realizing My Goals

Back to my goals for 2018. Some of my goals are straightforward and need no further planning or explanation or resources/support. For example, mindful eating is just that – turn off the TV, put down the fork between bites, chew slowly and “taste” the food, etc. All I need to do is remains conscious of this goal.

Other goals need more active strategy and development of mini-goals. I need to define the aggressive actions but I need to do this in a way that doesn’t set me up to be judgmental. Here are my mini-goals/aggressive actions for the “Start Cleaning My Own Damn House” goal:

  • Contact the housekeeping service and cancel
  • Gather all the supplies I need in an easy to carry tote OR put a set of cleaning supplies on each level. Get the cleaning supplies that I like and that make cleaning easier. (And to keep my financial goals: don’t buy items I don’t need!)
  • Schedule a dedicated time in my calendar for “house” – for example, Monday 9-11 am – and keep that sacred
  • Schedule ONE deep cleaning project a month – for example, February = deep dust and clean all the baseboards and chair rail molding
  • Always have a book to listen to while I clean – choose something that is attention grabbing!
  • When I pay bills, continue to “pay” the housekeeper by sending that exact amount either to savings or to a credit card (that way I know I’m attacking my financial goals and that money is not just slipping away)
  • Plan to reward myself after a cleaning session – after I clean, I can go sit at Starbucks, spend $5 and read for an hour – this was my husband’s idea and it’s a great one! We do need to reward ourselves when we tackle goals that are hard or that we hate (and I hate mopping floors!).

Reduce Legalism and Judgments!

Okay, can you see that I’m setting myself up to fail like I did with the goal tracker? I’m going to have to be very careful! I’ve defined the mini-goals so I don’t need to review this list again – until April 15 when I reassess all of my goals. My brain can hold these activities so I threw away the paper where I listed these mini-goals. The truly important/workable mini-goals will just become part of me and my routine. If I kept that paper, I’d use it to beat myself up when I missed a step.

There is nothing LEGAL about my list of goals or my aggressive action steps. If I miss some or all – SO WHAT! If I do them all and achieve greatness in keeping my own damn house clean – SO WHAT! I’m enough either way! That’s my new mantra … I’m enough either way!

So are you!

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