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the permission goal and the get-it goal

November 24, 2010

November. The month I vowed to reconnect with my body goals despite the insanity of impending deadlines of various kinds. So here I am, checking in, just in time for Thanksgiving.

How is it going? Mediocre at best.  I am maintaining, which is actually great considering the fact that I am swimming in a mad sea of work, grad school applications, and paintings for my upcoming art show — but I am beating myself up for not doing more.  Not very useful.

Perhaps I was too ambitious. Too ambitious? Is there such a thing? Well, if the true intention is to heal through self-love, to listen to my genuine needs, then yes, I suppose sometimes there is such a thing as pushing too hard.  I think I was trying to avoid the self-coddling that can take the place of self-love, and instead I went too far the other direction to the self-punishing side of the equation.

Pushing myself more than I can handle is dangerous, because as soon as I feel that I am powerless to meet my goal I want to give up entirely.  Setting realistic goals is one of the keys to continued motivation and success.

How do I set realistic goals? This is the big question, isn’t it.  I think, as with any big question, there is no easy answer.  It is a long process to learn to set these goals, a learning-by-doing process.   Checking in is key — I think I have not been doing this enough lately — checking in frequently with both compassion and honesty.

Remaining flexible is also a must.  Checking in won’t do much if you don’t adjust your goals based upon the results of the check-in.  This does not mean flaking out, and telling the difference can be the trickiest part.  How can you know if you are being flexible and self-loving or just downright flaky?  You can know, but only you can.  No one else can tell you if you are being true to your needs, and even those voices of others that you have internalized can’t tell you.  So, the first step is finding your own internal voice.  Then, it’s all about honesty, about having the courage to tell yourself when you are totally full of it and having the compassion to know when you are genuinely unable to meet a specific goal.  These two things do feel very different inside.

There is no shame in not being able to meet a goal when you set the bar too high — the point is that you readjust and keep moving forward rather than getting stuck in a shame spiral.  This is the hardest part for me, by far.  I finally realized that if I consciously choose to simply maintain my current weight until my applications are in, I suddenly feel hopeful that I can meet this goal, good about what I am doing, and excited for the day my applications will be done when I will have the ability to do even more for my body.  In this way, I don’t risk gaining any weight through discouragement, I don’t add stress to my already full plate, and I will be more likely to check in because I don’t feel overwhelmed.  Ahh, internal space!  There’s nothing better.

A Practical Exercise:

Lately, I have noticed a pattern during my workouts that has helped me feel more positive.  It’s a great way to practice checking in and goal-flexibility.  You may already be doing this without knowing it!   I call it the Permission Goal and the Get-It Goal.  Here’s how it works:

*Do a check in right before workout: How is my knee (or other trouble spot) doing?  What muscles are aching to be exercised?  How is my energy?  What is the last possible time I can get home to finish everything else I need to get done?  The answers to these questions will help formulate goals.

*Make a game plan: I pick the machines that will suite my knee and muscle-group needs, and then I decide how long I will go/how much I will do on those machines.  I practice picking goals that seem very do-able but still satisfactory, for who wants to feel like a trip to the gym was a waste?  It is important that this goal not be up to the last possible minute you have for exercise in your day — give your goal a little room to breathe.  This is your Permission Goal — “I give myself permission to do X and then go home.”  Make sure you would truly feel OK going home after only doing X.

*Check in again during workout: How is my energy now?  How is my knee doing?  Heart rate? Etc.  Start to think about how you feel in the context of your Permission Goal.  If the Permission Goal feels easy…

*Update your goal: Decide on a new goal, but don’t bind yourself to it.  Make sure this is a specific goal, even though it is not set it stone.  This is the choice you have to go for the gold, and remember — it is always a choice.  If you decide to push yourself to the max, you are not blindly following an obligation, you are actively choosing to rock your workout!  This is why I call it the Get-It Goal 😀  I find that I almost always choose to go for it, and in the choosing to do so I get to feel proud of my hard work and empowered!  Yay!

❤ Diana Banana

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