Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Set Your Goals: Not Just an SXE Band!

"Set your goals" - it's not just a straight edge band, it's a call to action! Goals are the "turn rights" and "straight aheads" that define your life's journey. When you set your goals, you're saying, "This is how I want my life to look, and this is how I'm planning to get there." Studies show that only four percent of people that make New Year's resolutions without setting goals are successful in them. Compare this to forty-six percent who articulate their intentions and then make a plan for achieving them. Setting goals transforms all those things that you think about doing into the things you're actually doing. Once you've decided what you want and how you're going to get it, the only excuse for not getting it is not going for it. And when it comes down to it, nothing feels quite as lame as saying, "Man, I so could have ______ if I had just _______... but I didn't." SET YOUR GOALS!

This all probably sounds pretty intuitive, but I'm telling you, there's an art to it. For the most part, it really is a no-brainer that doesn't require (yet another) article on some posi lifestyle blog waxing poetic like it's the best thing since Minor Threat. I bring it up, though, because the real secret to goal setting is breaking your goals into sub-goals and mapping them out. In theory, this is pretty simple, but sometimes putting this into practice can be tricky. One reason is that you can have so many goals going at once, it can be overwhelming. Another reason is that, even if you have all the steps outlined for a long-term goal, achieving it can seem so far off that losing sight gets really easy. There's a solution, though.

One of my good friends gave me some of the best advice on staying on top of your goals, and that's setting three per day. I've read variations on this, like setting three weekly goals, but I think daily goals are best. Setting three goals a day makes you wake up with a sense of purpose and sleep with a sense of satisfaction. Plus, it's JUST three things. How hard is to get three things done? If you're like me and always have a to-do list going without an expiration date, setting three goals every day slowly erodes that list. Sometimes, I get really high on that sense of accomplishment and what started as a resolve to clean the cat box and put away the dishes leaves me with three new recipes, some letters, the cleanest room in Georgia, and a righteous drawing:

I don't always get my goals from my amorphous to-do list, though. Sometimes my goals are very specific to larger things (like working out a recipe for xvx party, which I run partially to keep me producing for a cookbook); and sometimes I don't limit myself to three goals a day (like when I have a bunch of schoolwork AND stuff that needs tending around the house). I'm very flexible in how I stay on top of it, but I try to keep some semblance of a routine to ensure I do the things I need to do so I can feel the way I want to feel. It seems counter-intuitive, but there is freedom in structure! (Sometimes.)

Another good way to keep yourself on task is to give yourself reminders. A total cheese doodle thing that I've heard a million times is to make a goal collage, but this doesn't have to be as dumb as it sounds. I'm in art school right now, and one of my goals is to always do my assignments well and on time. This may seem like a big ol' DUH, but it's really easy for my to psych myself out and tell myself I'm not creative/talented/whatever enough. So I keep pictures around that I think are inspiring - great colors, wonderful composition, interesting concept, nice pattern, good line weight, whatever. That way, I have constant aesthetic input, and I have things to aspire towards. I also keep around pictures I'm proud of. It's important for me to remember that I'm not a hack.

If it's possible, find a friend to tell you, you're not a hack - namely, a friend that also needs to be told they're not a hack. Just like misery loves company, so does ambition, so when you're going after a goal, find someone looking to accomplish the same thing. Social accountability can never be underestimated (how many times have I brought this up??), so there's that pressure to succeed to impress the other person (or at least avoid embarrassment). If nothing else, you have guaranteed cheerleaders in each other, and you'll always be able to compare notes. I think it goes without saying that every experience is more pleasant when you have someone to share it with.

Now, here's where I get self-indulgent and reveal a goal I'm setting. I'm doing this to hold myself accountable but also so I can show the art of tackling a longer goal. I was recently approached by a national publication about POSSIBLY modeling for them (possibly), but I've been doing a lot of comfort eating since I found out I was going to move (and then, you know, did move). The sheer possibility of this photoshoot is enough to put a fire under my ass to stop eating entire cheezecakes (yes, entire cheezecakes) and deal with the ten pounds such decisions have brought me; but just as putting on ten pounds wasn't easy (trust me, there were a lot of stomach aches involved...), losing ten pounds won't be easy. That's why I'm breaking it down into mini-goals and setting myself the deadline of two months. My goals:

#1 Eat 1,200 - 1,500 Calories a Day
I am really, really bad about portion control, so I'm trying to make this easy by structuring meals in advance. It's funny because I can say things like, "No animal products! No drugs!", but somehow, "No second piece of pie!" is like saying, "No air!" My plan is to start every day with a protein smoothie because those always keep me satiated, and then lunch will always be a salad, and dinner can be whatever as long as it stays within my calorie goal. If I limit myself TOO much, I won't stick to my eating plan, so I think this is good.

#2 Work Out Three Times a Week
I like working out and being fit, but I can get really bored with my workouts and really lazy about getting to the gym. HOWEVER, the school I attend offers free personal trainers and lots of free fitness classes, which makes me accountable for showing up and automatically mixes it up for me. Plus, just like it's not hard to knock out three tasks in a day, what's hitting the gym three times a week? That way, I can lift weights and give my body recovery time inbetween, and I'm not overwhelmed by how much of a commitment I'm making. So, lift weights, forty-five minutes of cardio, three-times a week!

#3 Stay Hydrated!
This is another thing I am really bad about, but people routinely overeat because they're actually THIRSTY. If I make a conscious effort to drink more (water, that is), my skin will look better, my BO will smell better, I'll feel better, and I'll probably eat less. Wins all around.

#4 Always Walk or Ride my Bike
Savannah is a really pedestrian-friendly city, so there's really no excuse for driving if I don't need to drive. Yes, large grocery trips require driving. Going to work requires driving. Certain impromptu adventures require driving. But I need to learn to give foresight to my activities in a way that makes me rely less on my car - and this goes beyond my physical fitness. Sounds posi to me!

#5 Stop Eating Within Four Hours of Bedtime
This is important to more than just my waistline. Eating before bedtime releases insulin, which is toxic to some hormone that helps your body repair itself. So when I eat before sleep, I eat away at my health! Eff that es.

#6 Discuss Body Image in Therapy
Struggling with food and body image is pretty much written into my genetic code. I have a sister that's been battling anorexia for over ten years, and another one had a good, long wrestle with EDnos. I feel I have legitimate reasons for undertaking this goal (fitting my clothes, getting healthier, shooting for that photoshoot), but I can't deal with my outside without dealing with my inside. This weight gain has conjured a lot of old demons, and it's time I talked about them with a professional, so I'm actually meeting with someone tomorrow morning.

#7 Report-Back on XVX Party Once a Week
I have nothing to prove until I make a point of proving it, so here I am, proving it to you! I can do this! And you can, too! Maybe not this, but some other ambition that seems intimidatingly ambitious and drawn-out - you can get there! It's all about breaking it down into steps, giving yourself deadlines, figuring out how to deal with your bumps along the way, and then going after your goals full force!

I am roughly 115lbs right now, and my waist is about 26".


  1. Yay for biking around savannah! I'm up to 290 miles on my bike in a month and a half. I love keeping track of things like that.

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