Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Five Percent Course Adjustment

I recently read this article about not setting goals because that's how we set ourselves up for failure.

Huh.

Then I thought about the biggest goals I've had in my life and how they've never stuck.  I had a goal to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.  Instead I became what I lovingly refer to as The Thousand Pound Woman having yo-yo'd my way through many dress sizes in my life.  Why?  Why didn't it work?  Because it was a goal.  I would strive momentarily for a goal and then I would achieve it and quit behaving in the forced manner that had gotten me there.  I could do step aerobics, a torture best left in the 80's, but only for a finite amount of time.  The community class I signed up for ended, the holidays arrived, the spandex-y glitterbomb of a teacher was dreadful -- you see, I can do anything for a little bit of time.  But the problem was that the goal was reached in a forced manner.  As soon as I stopped trying to force myself to reach the goal because it had been achieved, it was right back to the way of living that I knew best. It might not be what was best for me, but it was what I knew.

I tend to be a broad strokes, big sweeping gestures kinda' gal.  My friend Candy used to always say to me, "baby steps," to which I replied, "pish posh."

But now I am beginning to get the baby steps thing.  It's not the goal and a giant leap that gets me magically transported to The New Lee.  It's the system I put into play every day.

So instead of saying, "I want to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle," I must simply put into play in my daily life systems that will create the space for happiness each day and that will point me down a healthy road.  It's NOT a GOAL though.  Got that?

Systems are not forced things, will power or regimes.  Systems allow you to find, in your own happy way, a lifestyle that is different, yet satisfying and joyful.  After they have been booted up, systems operate in a practically unnoticeable manner (like your pulmonary system.  See what I did there?)

Systems will not overwhelm you or discourage you or leave you feeling restricted.  Systems give you freedom.

But setting up an entirely new system can be overwhelming, too.  It seems so much like a goal.  I have a friend who recommends the 5% course adjustment.  This is a conscious decision to make a small change.  I've seen it work in other people's lives.  The 5% course adjustment is skim milk instead of whole milk, or walking an extra half mile on your constitutional.  The 5% course adjustment is saying yes to a sorbet and no to an ice cream.  It's the little things that add up to a lot of things.

I never understood this on a personal level.  I, being bold move Betty, thought, "If you're going to change, then change dammit."  But I discounted the fact that even a 5% adjustment to the path you are walking eventually will take you miles off the course you trod.  Ultimately the change that occurs, because it is barely noticeable, means that it is likely to be permanent.  And the battle of will power does not have to be your burden.

The dialect of all or nothing disappears with the 5% course adjustment.  It is no longer, "I MUST do this thing every day for the rest of my life." The dialogue between my choices and my habits is now, "Just do this little thing right now; no one's going to be much bothered by it." So I can walk that extra few yards, drink that extra glass of water, stretch in the morning, or walk around the block on my break.  It all adds up.

And change that takes place over a long period of time adds up.  You have a new system of living life.  It was not a forced conscious decision, it just happened gradually.

Without setting a goal.

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