Achieving a goal, like losing weight, earning a degree while you’re working, or raising money for a cause you believe in, can feel euphoric, especially when you’ve overcome significant challenging obstacles to get there. We know logically that it’s hard to make the changes required to reach a goal. So why, then, when the going gets tough, are we unprepared and wonder why the journey is not pain-free? Part of it has to do with our desire to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and take the path of least resistance. Being aware of this triad can help you better accept, and tolerate, the obstacles you’ll face.
Avoiding Pain: The Path is Not Always Motivating and Fun
If you want to lose weight or consume a healthier diet, one of your strategies might be preparing ingredients ahead of time, for example over the weekend, for healthy grain bowl meals. When Sunday comes around and you’ve planned to shop and cook quinoa, steam some veggies, boil some eggs, and make a salad dressing, chances are you’re not going to want to do that. Just notice it and remind yourself what you’re aiming for.
Keeping your eye on the fact that the shopping and cooking is the means to the end that you care about. It’s OK if you feel unmotivated or it doesn’t seem fun. Remember it’s all about feeling good when you’ve lost weight or are eating a healthy diet: your goal is fun and motivating, the path to get there will not always be, and that’s OK. It’s just the way it is.
Seeking Pleasure and Feelings of Missing Out
What about when you walk into an upscale market and the front shelves and tables are loaded with brownies, cakes, donuts, and pastries? This just happened to me at my local market, and of course everything looked incredibly tempting. Who doesn’t love the taste of baked goods? I reminded myself I don’t feel my best when I eat those types of foods, and I especially don’t feel good about myself when I inevitably overeat them when they’re sitting on my kitchen counter.
We all want to experience pleasure. But instead of chasing after the temporary pleasure of eating, focus on the pleasure of losing weight and feeling more energetic due to a healthy diet. Another suggestion is to broaden your repertoire of things that are pleasurable for you.
The Path of Least Resistance: Losing What’s Familiar
And what about when you’re used to a rotating menu at home of chicken broccoli pasta loaded with Alfredo sauce, take out cheeseburgers, or ice cream while watching evening television? Breaking patterns can be hard. But staying at a weight that is not comfortable or feeling sluggish is even harder. Remind yourself that you may as well choose the path that will get you to the goal you’re aiming for.
While the path to success is always on my mind with clients, it has really hit home because in the past 2 weeks, 2 out of my 3 children received letters of acceptance to their dream colleges to attend as transfer students this fall. Let me tell you, the road was not easy! They had to perform well in their current school, do thorough research about the colleges they were interested in, write a lot of essays, and sometimes miss out on social activities and sleep.
Challenging Emotions Along the Way
Like anyone making the required changes to achieve a goal, doing or not doing certain things can be challenging. However, often the emotions are the biggest challenge such as doubt, overwhelm, and uncertainty, just to name a few. We often can’t know which emotions are going to come up, and we can’t really control the emotions that come up anyway.
We just have to know emotions will arise and that it’s important to be compassionate with ourselves no matter what we’re feeling. If we look at the triad, it makes sense that we will feel discomfort. Doing something we don’t want to do, FOMO, and loss of the familiar are uncomfortable. But you have to dig deeper and set your sights on the longer term goal. There, you’ll want to have done what it took, you will not miss our on what matters to you, and you will be comfortable with your own capacity to succeed. Go for the prize that matters most to you.
Keep Your Eye on The Prize
I’m beyond thrilled for both of my kids for the outcome. And I’m also beyond proud of them for keeping their eyes on what they wanted, sticking with the process, and digging deep to tolerate the discomfort along the way.
There is no question, the prize seems all the more sweet given the path that brought them there. Think about this for your goals. It’s OK if it’s hard. Be kind to yourself at every stage. And absolutely celebrate every win along the way. Be proud of yourself for your efforts and all you are achieving. And remember, the outcome does not define your self worth. You are already worthy. Keep showing up for yourself and you will be exactly where you need to be.
I’m Cheering You On!
Please share your aspirations, what it’s like to be on your journey to get there, and the goals you’re achieving. I’d love to hear about them. No matter what, I’m cheering you on!
If you’d like support or guidance on nutrition and achieving your health goals, I’m here to help! You can book a free consultation with me to learn more about health coaching and my available programs. I look forward to meeting you!