Workers climbing stairs.

When You Start a New Goal, Be Careful from the Very Beginning

A red flag you should never ignore.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve written about my struggles with nutrition, I’d have… I don’t know… at least 40 cents. Well, let’s make it 45 because here’s another one.

I’m a professional goal setter (just pretend that’s a thing for a sec).

I write about goal setting, talk about goal setting, have an Ebook and course about it. Hell, I have something like 18 goals I’m actively working on right now. All in the name of fulfillment. In other words, I use goal setting as a way to cultivate meaning and purpose in my life.

And I teach others how to do so as well.

But it’s not always gumdrops and roses or whatever. Sometimes, you eat dirt. Or, in my case, chocolate. For the past two years, I’ve worked to “perfect” my diet. I’ve read a lot on the topic. I’ve changed my lifestyle at least three times. And I’ve set probably six different goals to address the problem.

Yet here I am writing to you, again, about my struggles with the process.

 

Previously on…

It’s important I write this. It’s important I share the things I fall short on. After all, it’s a reminder to myself that I’m not perfect and have so, so, so much to work on. And it’s also useful for you to know that behind closed doors, we all struggle. Or, at least I do. I don’t know about everyone else. But probably. Let’s not assume things, but ya, probably.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the brief backstory.

Last year, I gained a bunch of weight. I’m still not sure why. Possibly as a side effect of the anti-anxiety medication I started taking, but it’s hard to pin down. Since then I’ve worked to fine-tune my diet. I went low-carb for a while, yet I kept getting heavier.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped weighing myself. It only hurt morale.

I started regularly fasting. I began consistent exercise and strength training regimes and a more mindful approach to eating. The scale still lives in the drawer, but I visually keep an eye on my body fat percentage.

It’s not all bad, but I know it could be better. At least, I want it to be better. Partly for vanity but mostly because it’s really hard and I like the challenge.

 

The latest

Last month I set a goal to abstain from refined carbs each day. That went ok, until I fainted one evening. That’s a whole other story. You can read about it here if you’re interested.

That said, I stopped that goal the next morning.

Since then I’ve been… how should I put it… on tilt. It’s been a bit of a mess. I went from a structured eating program to a hedonistic buffet where anything goes. But I figured why not. If eating “healthy” is proving so fruitless, why not go the other way and literally go fruit-less? It’s not the best approach but hey, I’m frustrated so cut me some slack.

Now, as of this writing, I recognize a few things:

  1. My previous attempts have taught me a lot.
  2. I’m getting closer with each attempt.
  3. I’m ready to give it another go.

What does that new “go” look like? I’m not going to tell you. Here’s why…

 

Listen closely

“I just wanted to let you know,” I had just told my family about my goal to abstain from refined carbs. Refined carbs generally being the brown and white foods (white rice, sugar, honey, white bread, etc.). I sat them down and told them all about it.

Further, I explained why they may see me avoiding certain foods moving forward. I didn’t have some new aversion to bread. Instead, I was actively choosing to abstain from it.

I told them out of courtesy. As a way to both let them into my life and also inform them about the foods I would and wouldn’t be eating moving forward. That way they wouldn’t be offended if I skipped dessert. There is a problem with this approach though. And it has everything to do with my ego. Any guesses as to what it is? It has to do with this question:

“Hey Corey – how’s the whole no-bread thing going?”

 

What I continue to learn

The more people you share your goals with, the more people will ask you about them. Which is fine if:

  1. Things are going well and you can’t wait to share,
  2. Or you are still working out the details.

But it’s embarrassing when your answer is consistently changing. Where you drop a goal one day and start a new one the next. You may see it as progress, but to everyone else you surely look like the fool trying out every fad diet.

It gets to the point where you hope no one asks you about your goal. If anything, just to give yourself a moment of reprieve from the judgment of yourself and others.

And so for that reason, I’m not going to tell you my new goal. I’m not really going to tell anyone else either. In fact, on my blog I have a page where I list most of my goals. This new one will not be placed there. At least, not yet. While it is good to share your trials and tribulations with others, some goals are best kept to yourself.

 

Final thoughts

I know that’s probably a controversial take. Here’s my thinking though. Keep in mind I’ve set a lot of goals in my day.

If there’s a goal that’s either entirely new to you or one you consistently struggle with, it is a fragile thing. It’s like a little baby. You don’t want to take that little baby on the subway with all those germs and exposures. You want to keep that little baby wrapped up and safe.

Sure, you can let your inner circle in to hold the baby, but until it makes it through those early stages, you want to keep the circle as small as possible. And for any problems, you can always take the little one to the doctor.

See your goal in the same way.

Nurture it. Keep it safe and secure. As it grows more mature, then start sharing it with the world. But not until then. And for any problems along the way, you can always talk to an expert; someone who has successfully done what you’re trying to do. That’s good advice to follow in any endeavor.

Most of the time, I’m happy to share my new goals from the beginning.

I’m confident in my abilities and trust my system. Generally, whatever goals I set run their full course with no problems. But for the trickier ones, like anything related to nutrition for me, I’m learning the hard way to keep them to myself.

It may be something you’d want to try as well.