Resolve Simply To Make Progress.

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.

PROGRESS.

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.

PROGRESS.

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.

9 Comments

  • LC

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!

    And don’t have any pressure about a 70.3. I, myself, am still trying to decide if I am going to try a 70.3 or stick with sprints, olympics, and some obstacle (like Spartan) races.

  • Sherry

    Where I work, we have Goals and Strategies. My Goal may be X and to reach that goal, I need to do Strategies Y, Z, and Q. If I read your post correctly, that is what you are talking about. I may not have reached my Goal, but dang it, I did Strategies Z and Q!

  • Karen

    Wow, Kim. If you ever give up your digital media specialist job, you could probably make a living as a life coach. You are so incredibly encouraging. I feel like I need to make big signs to hang up all over the house with quotes from this post. “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.”

  • Cherie

    I love this. One favor, if I may. I have a kid who is nearly identical in behavior issues to Wes. I also am a yeller, and I know that my yelling is NOT HELPING the situation. So, I have to ask: how did you quit yelling? I can’t seem to do it. I can for a few days, but then the endless battles and tantrums wear me down and there I am, yelling my fool head off again and winding the whole situation up. I’d love to know how you worked on this. (Unless the answer is “I decided to stop yelling and I did.” Because I’ll cry about my own failure to do this.)

    I’m sure there are other temper-prone folks out there who would appreciate a post on this as well. (I don’t think you’ve done one, but I could have missed it, I guess.)

    • Susan

      I’m a yeller, too, and something that helped me was learning to meditate. I read Dan Harris’s book, “10% Happier,” which is a great book for learning about meditation and how to do it. And I just started with 5 minutes a day. It really helps. I still yell sometimes, but most of the time I can catch myself with focusing on my breathing.

    • zoot

      Oh, man. Mainly it was just me having to remind myself to be the example I want him to follow because Wesley has TERRIBLE anger issues. His response was to hit/spit/say ugly things so I had to be a good example. And I would often point it out. “Wesley. Right now I’m really angry but I’m not going to yell because I want you to see how someone handles anger without yelling.” But it’s SO HARD and has been a several year journey for sure. Hang in there. If one time you WANT to yell and you don’t? That’s progress. Celebrate it. 🙂

  • junkie

    one of our directors here at work wrote a post to our division last week about where we’re headed, how to get there, etc…and this quote (below) was at the top of what he wrote and what the whole piece was framed around. i liked it very much, and i’m thinking it goes hand-in-hand with this post.

    “It doesn’t matter when we start. It doesn’t matter where we start. All that matters is that we start.”

    – by Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker

  • Kate

    This is such a great reminder and a wonderful post! Thank you for another year of thoughtful, insightful, motivating blogging! I have so enjoyed reading your words for the last 10 years!