You know I read a lot of self-help and self improvement books, and am pretty much constantly trying to change things and myself for the better.
I am at a point where I feel my most important projects are stalling, nothing is moving, and so when we had a discussion on ravelry about how good it is to set precise goals, and hold each other accountable I jumped right in.
Every Monday I would post my goals, specific and measurable ones, modest ones that I could surely achieve with a bit of effort. And every Monday I would report on how I had failed the week before.
I hate failure. I bet all of us do. And my goals really were attainable. And yet I failed. Not in a „and then I got sick and had to miss a day“-way but in a „I wanted to make music for ten minutes five times a week, and I only touched my ukulele once“-kind of way.
In fact I started feeling that writing the goals down, and telling others about them made me less likely to succeed. Which goes against everything that is common knowledge. If you want to reach a goal you should break it down into small manageable chunks, and then you should tell everybody about it so you’ll be more motivated to actually do it.
As I said it feels as if that’s not for me.
Take losing weight. I managed to lose a bit when I stopped eating sugar (mostly) because I found my body wasn’t happy to digest that much fructose. Then I lost some more because I decided to drink way less alcohol for health reasons. And then I decided to eat just a little less still because I wanted to be able to walk uphill without feeling dreadful. (The first thing I did about that was exercise more, though, losing weight alone would have been rather pointless for that.)
I am totally against dieting (and it never works for me anyway), I know that it’s unhealthy, and I also know that only 5% of all people who lose weight will keep it off, and I know that being fat is neither unhealthy nor unattractive, and that things like exercising a lot, and getting enough sleep are much better ways to become (and stay) healthy but still – I decided to lose weight.
And I did, quietly so, without much fuss. My husband and son knew, and nobody else, and I made great progress. When I went out I basically ate as I used to, and when I was home again I’d go back to eating just a little less. I had to buy smaller pants, and was sure enough of myself to buy them just a bit too tight. (And right now they fit. With long johns underneath.) And sine everything was going so well I started telling people, „I am currently losing weight.“ And guess what happened?
I gained half a pound back.
Now part of this is due to the Christmas and New Year’s food extravaganza but part of it is for the same reason I never achieve the goals I publicly state.
What happens is this: When I state something like, „I am currently losing weight.“ or „I will be practicing every weekday.“ my subconscious thinks, „Oh, that’s alright then, already taken care of.“ and then it leans back and takes a nap.
The part of publicly stated goals that gets most people to succeed anyway seems to be fear of shame. They are afraid of what others will think of them if they fail.
In my experience other people couldn’t care less. I used to belong to a group of women who did the whole goals-and-accountability-thing every other week, and every time I said that was disappointed about how I failed to do the things I wanted to get done they would say, „But everything is fine! You worked so hard! It’s not your fault!“ But to me that was not the point.
I have also found that other people are often somewhat glad if I fail because if I can’t change things then they don’t have to as well.
So. It seems that after a long period of trying out and testing I won’t set goals publicly like that anymore.
Which still leaves me with the problem of how I get moving on the projects that I deem important. Any thoughts?