Monday, January 17, 2011

Wants and Goals

Sometimes, I look at my goals and wonder if they are really goals. I mean, if I claim to *want* something, but then never really get around to working hard enough to get that something, is it *really* a goal? Do I really want it? Or do I just think I *should* want it, so tell myself I do to try and convince myself to want it?

If I claim I have a goal, and I know the steps I need to take to get there but don't take those steps, is it a goal, or not?

If you say you want to go to bed, and your house is quiet and no one is bothering you, yet you sit on the couch watching TV or going online and don't take those simple steps down the hall to the bedroom, do you *really* want to go to bed?

Do you say "oh yes I DO want to go to bed, but this show is so interesting!" or "in fact I really want to go to bed but I get distracted with things online." Or maybe "I want to go to bed but am too tired to get off the couch."

I think you really don't want to go to bed, then. Maybe you know you SHOULD go to bed, or you *think* that is what you should want, but in reality you want to stay up and watch TV or be online or stay on the couch. But it is harder for some of us to admit that we don't want what we/our parents/our friends/society thinks we should want.

And this is something I am slowly coming to understand about myself and my "goals."

All this time, for years, I've had a "goal" of strength training regularly. If you've read this blog for long, you know I have gone through several stints of weeks or months of strength training, only to peter out and slip out of the habit each time. Every time, I kick myself because I *do* love the way I feel when I am strength training... I love the firmness of my arms and abs, the way I can lift and carry things effortlessly, the way I feel about my body. What I *hate* is standing in a room doing biceps curls over and over and over (and over), ***insert a dozen other exercises here*** over and over and over. I HATE it. HATE!!! Every time I have done it, no matter what the routine, with or without music, with or without a video, in a gym or at home, I hate it. I love the results, I know I SHOULD do it for my health, but I hate it.

I do not want to strength train for the sake of strength training. I just want to be strong.

You can expand this to many other things in life.

I want to eat vegetables all the time... only I don't. I'd rather eat cookies.
I want to have a totally neat, organized house... only, I don't. I'd rather let it go sometimes so I can relax, and worry less about organization.
I want to learn to play the piano... only, I don't. It's too much work and I have other stuff I need to do.

How about you? Do you want soft skin but can't bother putting on lotion every day? Do you want cavity-free teeth but keep "forgetting" to floss? Do you want to lose weight but keep eating cookies and hot dogs?

Oh, I've been there. And I think it isn't quite as simplistic as I am sounding. We can want two contradictory things, say, a cheesecake and a loss on the scale. We can have subconscious *stuff* driving us to something we don't think we really want on the surface. Sometimes we just want the results without the work.

But for me, I have really had to reexamine my 'goals' because it is kind of silly to keep trying to force myself into a mold I no longer fit or want. It doesn't make sense to tell myself over and over that I want something, only to keep heading in the opposite direction.

I don't have any huge revelations about myself, here. And it's *not* about my weight... I definitely do want to continue on that part of my journey if for nothing else but the quality of life I gain for every ten pounds less my knees have to carry. I am still a work in progress and still doing a lot of thinking and tweaking and learning to know myself and my desires. I mostly wrote this post as a way of making *us* think. Stop and think instead of being automated in what we claim as our goals. Maybe what we truly want is something we haven't even considered yet.


Verity Vaudeville said...

I know what you mean. It's the internal struggle between mind and action. Surely you can only mean things that you are actively trying to achieve, and those you aren't must indicate that you don't want them so badly afterall. Otherwise you would get out there and grab them right? I don't think this always applies though, as depression can cause me to not feel anything, but I know I must be feeling something. Deep down I care very much but the black shroud can sully all the things I hold so dear.

But I think you've got a point, in that if you want something so much, you'd be prepared to walk the walk instead of just talk.

LN said...

I can totally relate to this. I love digging through and discovering if I want what I say and think I want... or not. Wanting to be strong is the goal - not the lifting weights regularly. I keep thinking to try and focus on the real goal - not the way, not the method I think will get me there. Even so, sometimes I am stunned by how much I do not want to do what I say I want. And more surprised by what I do want.

Diandra said...

Most of the things we think we want are put on us from external sources (think "society"). I mean, how many of us really wake up and think, "Oh, it's such a lovely day, I am going to mop the floor and clean all the windows"? Don't know about you, but it's highly unlikely I'm ever going to say something like that.

(We still clean the house because we definitely do NOT want people to think we're messy when they come to visit.)

The trick, with many things, is to find out WHY we want to do something. If we want something, there are things we may have to do to get there. Like, "If I want to lose weight, I have to eat less and exercise." But the important question is, WHY do we want what we (think we) want?

"I want to lose weight because.... uhm..." won't get us anywhere.

"I want to lose weight because I want to look good and be healthier and be able to do things with my significant other/kids/...", on the other hand, will get us moving.

There are strength exercises I hate. Especially that one that helps me lose and stay away from my "bat wing" arms (that flabby skin on the upper arms). Every morning my brain is all, "Oh no, do I have to? We only did that exercise yesterday!" And I keep at it because I know I don't want bat wing arms because I think they look ridiculous on anyone, and I have this nice blue dress with shoulder straps I want to wear next summer, so...

With some things, however, I discover that I do not really want them. Our flat is a mess during the week, because we both have jobs and, honestly, I have more important things to do with my time than worry about the neighbors' opinion concerning our windows. (And people who complain about the cat hair on the furniture don't have to visit again if they don't want to.)

A New Dawn said...

I can get this - i find failing to achieve the things I want are when the act of achieving relies upon willpower and for whatever reason ...and there are so many.....I lack the needed willpower.
Finding the way to maintain the willpower is my struggle for when i want something and have buckets of willpower it seems easy but when the willpower do the goals

MizFit said...

I know for so long I was stuck in a goalwant rut.
not only was I not (am I not?) achieving them---I think I was accidentally limiting my thinking.

(if that makes sense. it does to me, Lyn :))

fantastic post.

Anne H said...

Goal Want...
I think we find reasons to do something or excuses to not do the same thing. Maybe our true motivation comes through... My teacher once called these things "borrowed goals..."
It's like the guy who buys a boat, but never takes it out....
Excellent post, Lyn!

Leslie said...

Wow - this post hit me right between the eyes (in my brain perhaps?)! And not just about food.

So much of what you mentioned - working out, strength training, moisturizing, flossing - fall into the goal vs want game for me.

Great food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I'll say that if you really don't want to do it, then don't do it! BUT! Check with yourself every now and then if any motivation comes up. Maybe you don't want to do something now, but that doesn't mean that you wont forever. You might want to do it in a few months later...

Anonymous said...

I HATE HATE HATE Lifting weights.

But I DID really want to be strong - especially upper body.

So I joined my local indoor climbing gym... which has given me the strength work I so badly needed, but is "fun"... not "work" - so I can stick to it.

Climbing rocks! ;) (If you'll pardon the pun).

CQ said...

Wow, I really loved this blog. I never thought of the issue of goals this way! I have had the "goal" to get the office organized for 3 years. It still isn't done. Obviously I don't truly want to do it.

I have had the goal to obtain a normal BMI for years. I'm currently overweight, but I'm active, in good health, and my weight doesn't really bother me in any way. So... do I really want a normal BMI? Or do I think I should have a normal BMI? If I don't really want a normal BMI, what does that mean? Should some things be a goal whether we want them to be or not?

When I was pregnant, I eliminated caffeine, advil, and my allergy medication without hesitation. I didn't want to put any chemicals into my body that could in any way harm my baby, even if the chances were very slim.

Right now, in a non-pregnant state, you couldn't pay me to give up caffeine. I wouldn't be able to do it! I think to myself, "I really should give up diet soda..." but I must not really want to!

So, pregnancy is really the only instance where I could instantly achieve and stick to a goal, because... of a higher purpose? Guilt? Paranoia? Selflessness? A combination of all those reasons?

Which then begs the question, what, if anything, would "make" me achieve a goal such as a normal BMI? My health? What would "make" me achieve my office overhaul? A Martha Stewart clean house contest? I don't know the answer.

Thanks for the blog... I'll be mulling over your words today.

Cindy said...

as per Dr Laura - "we do what we want to do". if you haven't done it, you didn't want it.

there is no excuse other than admitting you really didn't want it.

Anonymous said...

One of the best blog posts ever. Hits us all right in the gut. Pun intended or not. :)

thanks for the food for thought.

Ellie said...

Very thought provoking. I totally understand what you mean. I do the "I should go to bed" routine all the time, and this has probably been my 4th year in a row with "lose weight" as a resolution.

Maybe it's time I step back and really think about what I want in life.

Gofer said...

Have you tried Kettlebells? I love them it adds some cardio in with strength training and there are all kinds of different moves you can do with just 1 kettlebell. I can get a great all over workout in like 30 minutes since you will use your arms and legs and sometimes even your core all in one move. I got a KB and a video for $20 or so at Big 5 and you can even go on you tube to find some moves.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post :) I really get what you mean, but I think it's about how we want to feel too...Like I want to feel accepted and loved and attractive, therefore I think I have to lose weight to do that so that's my goal rather than my goal being to feel great about myself and that could be doing something as simple as painting my toes! Lol!

Mavra xx

All American Family said...

wow....just, wow
THANK YOU for this post!

btw...I just found your blog a few days ago and I'm a reagular reader now.

Anonymous said...

Love this post. I've been thinking something similar lately, about how when I want something, I figure it out and I do it. If I think I should want something, I dilly and dally and make charts and lists. I think I'd need to spend less time on reward/punishment if I focussed on figuring out what I really WANT and gave myself permission to want it.

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Anonymous said...

A friend once gave me a beautiful quote by Anna Quindlen (sp?). The paraphrase is:

"I hate writing, but I love having written."

I totally get this idea - hating the process, but loving the results. I feel like it's a tug between the two. Which one wins?

Amber1011 said...

How about you? Do you want soft skin but can't bother putting on lotion every day? Do you want cavity-free teeth but keep "forgetting" to floss? Do you want to lose weight but keep eating cookies and hot dogs?

-All three! I "want" all of those things, but I never seem to actually make them happen - but hey, I put on lotion TONIGHT! That's a start right? lol

Well said, and very thought provoking.

Hanlie said...

Oh you've hit a nerve with this one! For instance, when I say I want to eat, nothing short of a hurricane can keep me away from food, but when it comes to weight loss, exercise, personal growth, I can be so easily distracted.

Thanks for exposing the lie truth, Lyn!

Jen in MN said...

I hear you on the weight training - but honestly, I find that it only takes about 15-20 minute sessions, 2-3 times per week, to look & feel MUCH better. So yes, it's kind of a pain, but it doesn't take much time investment to make a huge difference! I like to mix it up with some Biggest Loser sculpting DVD workouts (I only do 10-20 min long ones).

The Motivational Girl said...

Very good thoughts! I too tire of strength training, but like you love the way I feel and look.

Anonymous said...

Coming back to this post; someone commented that want plus timeline is goal. The other equation I've heard is that success is the combination of desire, skill, and habit. It's great when something holds our feet to the fire and forces us to finish tasks NOW, and there are tricks we can use to put our brain in that mode. Obviously being online, watching TV, or playing a game you can nickel and dime your way into staying up an extra two hours, so the battle is to see the long-term effect of each extra 5 minutes.

Lanie Painie said...

I love that you analyze yourself so much. I especially love knowing that I'm not the only one who does it! I've been thinking a lot today about what I really want and why I want it. Usually, I can't figure out what I want. There are just too many choices and it becomes overwhelming quickly!