Sometimes I feel I’ve failed at things. A few weeks ago I made it down to race-day weight and then the holidays happened and my race is on Saturday and I’m 3lbs over my maximum desired race-day weight. And I feel like a failure.
But then I soften the focus on that one small attribute and widen the focus on my life.
Resolutions are often concrete goals that we either achieve or we don’t. Pass or fail. Black or white. With most resolutions, there is no gray. And when you set up goals that you either pass or fail, your chances are very good to fail.
I have failed at losing enough weight to get myself in that “race-day weight” window where I feel like I perform best.
And while that type of goal setting is necessary on many levels, it should not be how we define our success or our failure.
I have this category on this blog called “A Better Me” because I like to remind myself – THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL. The goal is not to hit that magic 5lb window of “race-day weight” – the goal is to just be better than I was X amount of time ago. I don’t even like the arbitrary year marker because sometimes we have REALLY SHITTY YEARS. Honestly? 2015 was high-stress for me. I didn’t start getting my healthy/fitness back on track until September which is 9 months in.
But I’m confident that – every day – I’m making progress towards being better person. Progress. Forward progress measured on a VERY large scale.
Maybe you set a goal to run a half marathon but then you get sick and don’t run for a week and then you can’t get back on track again and you never reach your goal. But you know what? YOU STARTED. You trained for X amount of weeks more than you would have if you HAD NOT STARTED. That is progress. And that totally describes my first attempt at running in 2006. By April 2007 I had given up. Trained crappily for several races. Swore off running forever. BUT IT WAS STILL PROGRESS. I still ran a lot while I was on track. More than I would have if I hadn’t even tried. So did I fail at the specific race goal in 2007? Yes. But I made progress. And that progress was there to build on in 2011 when I gave it a try again.
Have we downsized our house yet? No. That’s been our “resolution” for 2 years now. BUT HOLY CRAP, we might as well have. The fact that we are VERY EASILY living in half of the house right now while the upstairs gets paint/carpet/renovations tells you how much we’ve downsized. There’s not much furniture up there and a few of the pieces we’re only keeping for staging purposes. We have purged so much stuff that when we do finally sell this house, downsizing will be a breeze.
I’m still not the Mom I feel like my kids need. But compared to Kim when Wes was 3’ish – Kim who had never dealt with a child with behavioral issues – I am a much better Mom. I used to just deal with my anger with yelling and I very rarely do that anymore. And even when I “yell” it’s nothing like the Yelling of Yesteryear.
And progress doesn’t always mean that you don’t fall backwards. You may travel a mile towards your goal and then falter back 9/10s of that mile. But you know what? Everything you did to travel that mile initially is still PROGRESS. Just because it feels like you’re not much further away from where you started doesn’t mean you didn’t take steps in the right directions. I’m always trying to break my stress-eating habit and I’m still not close to feeling like I’ve conquered that beast. But I’ve had some really good stretches of success. I’m not in the middle of one right now (I ate 17lbs of peanut brittle yesterday) but I’ve had some good weeks/months where I’ve kept it in check and every time there’s a week I deal with stress without eating, I know that’s a foundation for a better habit. Those decisions get easier the more you do them. I may not have dealt with this week’s stress well, but the fact that I dealt with stress well 3 weeks ago gives me a foundation to build on for success later. SO IT STILL COUNTS AS PROGRESS.
Set goals. Goals are great. But don’t lose sight of the big picture of your life. Maybe you didn’t lose that weight, but did you discover a few healthy food options you didn’t know you liked before? Maybe you didn’t run that 5K, but did you walk more than you did before you set that goal? Setting goals pushes you towards progress. They are great. But remember that every step you take in getting to that goal – those steps have value EVEN IF YOU DON’T REACH YOUR GOAL.
And sometimes a year is not enough time to really measure progress towards a Better You. Sometimes it takes a few years just to know what direction you want to travel. Sometimes you start out down a few roads and then change your mind. I’m still not convinced multi-sports are my thing. Someone asked me recently if I’ll do a half-Ironman this summer since I did an Olympic Distance Tri last summer and I’m like, “Nope.” I went down that road as far as I care to go at this moment in my life. At one point I thought a 70.3 would be a goal, but nope. Not right now. Maybe not ever. I just think my cycling anxieties are like my driving anxieties, a permanent fixture. I have to deal with the driving anxieties because I have to get around, but I hate driving. I don’t have to ride my bike unless I’m training so I’ve decided I’ll maybe do another Oly in 2017 but in 2016 I’m just going to stick to Sprints. I traveled that multi-sport road as long as I wanted and even though I didn’t reach that goal, I still consider it progress.
But the miles I put on that road still counts as progress. Even if I didn’t make it to the 70.3. Going down a different road is not failure. That progress still counts. Life is not one road. Don’t forget the progress you made down the other roads simply trying to find the one you’re on now.
Be kind to yourself as you start the new year. Soften your focus a little if you misstep. We all just want to be better versions of ourselves, right? As long as you are trying to make improvements in your life, you are making progress. And you should celebrate that progress no matter where you ended up as compared to where you started.