Anchoring in Success: Interim Goals for Weight Loss, Nutrition, and Health
About the photo: Data, data, data! My body didn’t come with an owner’s manual but I am at last figuring out a few things, thanks to data gathering.
Sometimes I happen upon a blog post written but never posted, or it’s still in the queue from long ago. This one is from last September.
My best friend and I are working together on a three-month health and fitness project. We have separate goals and separate ways of getting there–sometimes very different ways of getting there. But we keep copiously detailed spreadsheets of our data, and we set concrete goals for ourselves or where we want to “be” physically in three months. We each probably over-estimated our abilities to reach those goals in only three months but neither of us over-estimated our determination to get there, if not three months, then eventually.
We discovered, however, that I have very different ways of setting goals. Then again, we have very different personalities, enough to make anyone administering the Myers-Briggs test cringe. We both love collecting data and analyzing it, but I will go against my analysis and base a decision on gut instinct. As long as I’m true to myself, it works out well. If I change my methods to suit others, I tend to fail or feel boxed in…which usually results in overall failure.
When we met to discuss, very specifically, our goals for this project, he initially thought that I was setting myself up for failure. He was afraid I was fooling myself into thinking that it would be okay if I met an interim goal instead of going for the gold at the end of the line.
It was hard for me to explain to someone who wanted one BIG distant goal to shoot for and then own. For myself, I wanted interim goals on the way to that BIG goal. I didn’t insist he switch from one big goal to interim goals, but he was confused as to why I needed lesser goals. It wasn’t so much that I need them or have to have them. I just really like them.
The interim goals are simple things. In this case, they are three goals that are markers on the pathway to my big goal:
drop a dress size
get into my vintage leather jeans from 10 years ago
drop two whole points of my body fat percentage
These were not give-up points but rather milestones on my way to that goal.
Later, a month after my conversation with my best friend about this, I heard a motivational speaker talking about anchoring in success, and it resonated for me.
Look at it this way: that the dress of a smaller size was a physical manifestation of all the energy I’ve been putting into the self-improvement project. It was a way of looking at that dress forevermore and remembering the great feelings I had when I was first able to get into it. It wasn’t my stopping point to get into that dress; it was instead a booster to push me forward to know that I was on the right track, doing things that are healthy and productively feeling happy. Feeling good and marking the success of that feel-good energy with something tangible is how I anchor in success, just as I surely as I create to-do lists and mark off small steps in a big project. It’s a physical marker for small but continued successes on the way to ever better outcomes.