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Goal Setting Basics: Why We Must Adapt in Order to Maintain Our Goals

Ever set a goal to work out every day only to have to nix two days because it’s raining?  Decided to start skipping the sugar in your morning joe, but received the wrong order at pickup?  Sometimes things do not go the way we planned them. 

Shocker, I know. 

We may not be able to control the weather, or foresee mistakes others make.  We may want to hit our goals; and have every intention to make it happen. Yet, the 6:00 am workout is missed due to a snooze button situation, or the meal-prepped lunch you made last night doesn’t smell (or look) edible.  It happens.  And yes, we can mull it over, beat ourselves up about the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, but, what good does it do to replay it over and over? 

Although, going back in time is not an option (that I’m aware of at least) we can learn from those actions and adapt to the situation: reconfigure the goal in order to still be successful.  So, a little rain got in the way of your runs this week; find a way to workout indoors.  You ended up accidentally having sugar when you were not going to.  One action will not make or break your plans.  When something occurs that derails your goal, adaptation has to happen. 

It can be easy to trek down that slippery slope of negativity when plans starts to unravel.  One dessert can turn into two, then three very easily.  A plan not working out is not a sign of failure. Rather, it is sign that an adjustment is needed, whether temporarily or permanently. Instead of giving up and reverting to old habits, we must adapt our goals in order to continue.  If we keep goals so rigid that they are hard to meet when challenges arise (i.e., no dessert ever again, eight hours of sleep daily, etc.), we risk the opportunity to get frustrated or overwhelmed and decide to stop trying.  Then, a downward spiral begins.  The logic becomes “Well if I had dessert one night, surely, I can should have it again.”   

Rather than following that pattern of thinking, we must adapt to the situation at hand.  Yes, we all want to hit the goals we set.  We want the prize, the bragging rights, the satisfaction of achievement. However, there is no shame in having to tweak that goal in order to make it work.  The goal of never eating dessert can transition to eating dessert three times a week, or only eating homemade desserts. Adapting to the circumstances leads us to evolve and continue down our path of optimal health.  Adaptability results in the ability to keep going once we realize the current goal may not work in the current situation. 

It is also worth noting that adapting is not the same as quitting or giving up.  Quite frankly, it’s the opposite.  Adaptation creates an environment where continuing becomes easier. Making even a small adjust can clear up obstacles that are getting in the way of accomplishing a goal.

By adapting to the situation at hand, we can sustain the goal, albeit in a different iteration. Nonetheless, progress is still happening.  So yes, those two days of rain stopped you from running outdoors every single day of the week like you promised, but it does not have to stop you from continuing to get the physical activity you need.  You are still able to proceed working out indoors, or finding an activity online that you never thought of doing.  Adapting to the situation rather than giving up because the original goal cannot be reached is success.  It shows that we are looking at the end result rather than simply checking something off the to do list.  The same way we have to adapt to new situations, we must adapt our goals as well in order to be successful.

Need help crushing your goals? Let’s get together and figure them out.

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