Goals Be Goading Me

Goals. Having them is good, right?  Goal-directed, goal-driven, gotta hit those goals.

Yeah… maybe.  It turns out that this God term — Goals! — has a bit of a double-edged swordness to it.

Goals sound good — I set out some things I want to accomplish, get them right out in the open, right in front of me (maybe even tell others about them), and therefore I am more accountable about achieving them, I can organize my behaviors to maximize the possibility of achieving them, other people can even help me achieve them.

Well, yeah. Kind of. Sort of. Turns out, goals — like all things human — have ripples you may never have expected. Such as:

* Making goals overt and public and conscious means you now have pressure to succeed, which means you are motivated to hide your failures, to go secretive, to cover up the “reality” of not being perfect.

* Laying out “perfection” goals often seems to backlash into your psyche and make you feel pressured, make you fail at perfect, which then can make you fail at many of the other good things you do that weren’t part of the original goal challenge. In other words, your drive to achieve — and your inability to do that — can actually break apart the foundation of what you were doing that was good before the goals came around.

* Competing goals do not go away just because you lay out stronger, cleaner, more overt goals. For example, in our 30-day challenge, we wanted to go low-carb as the primary goal, with added goals of no processed foods, no dairy, no nuts, increase vegetables, quality fat, quality protein. But I also have other goals in my life right now: be happy, have fun, enjoy food, have a relationship, celebrate holidays, be social. The pleasure, convenience, low energy goals in my life compete strongly with the health goals.  I can generally find a happy medium, but goal-driven behavior is not about happy mediums or compromise — goals are achieved or not.  Black/white.

I’ll keep blogging on this, but from where I am right now, nearly 15 days into our 30-day challenge, big, clean, overt, high-achievement goal-setting isn’t working well for me.  I’m still eating well, haven’t broken out of my Big Theory Eating (paleo, with some dark chocolate and a little white rice, plus a processed food or gluten break-in maybe once every week or two), but this last 20% “clean up” of my diet is proving really hard to do.

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