Dr. Cheryl Woodson

Woodsonian Musings on Monday Manage Stress Through G.R.A.C.E.: R- Set Realistic Goals.

What you CAN do does not always determine whether you achieve a goal; it’s also what you WILL do. Your goal is to lose weight? If you won’t burn more calories than you eat, that goal will elude you. You want to get out of debt? You can’t do that if you won’t stop spending money on things that don’t contribute to your survival. Specific behaviors support specific goals, but some people see them as deprivation, not sweat equity. For example, they want immediate comfort (of the food, or purchases) more than long-term physical, or financial health. That’s okay. As an adult, you don’t have to do something you don’t want to do, but choice comes with a responsibility to accept the outcome. Continuing to desire a goal without committing to the necessary behaviors creates misery.

My childhood friend does not have something that she says she never wanted. Unfortunately, she believes she should have wanted it, or that people judge her because she doesn’t have it. My friend admits that she wanted to be free from the stress of chasing this thing more than she wanted the thing itself. She cannot embrace her choice. She is miserable.

We can also sabotage our goal-achieving efforts when we are confused about our priorities, or focused on only the most terrifying of several possible outcomes. Another friend moved across the country for a fresh start after adultery. The family settled in the suburbs, but the husband worked in the new city. He paid the mortgage and utilities, but contributed little other money and rarely came home. My friend and her children were hungry. We brainstormed and found several part-time jobs that would keep her at home with her children before and after school. Though initially ecstatic about working, she quit after only a few weeks and took her children out of the #2 school district in the state for home-schooling. This left no time for work and no food money! She finally admitted that she didn’t believe in divorce and feared that this was the only possible result of financial independence. She didn’t have to divorce her husband. She had to feed her children.

Complain and move, or stay and deal.

If we haven’t reached a goal, we can either complain and change, or accept that the cost of change is too high. Either course is okay, but to stay in a situation and continue to complain is a prescription for misery. If you choose not to change, or decide that you want something more than you want the change, it’s okay. Embrace the right to choose and adapt to the consequences. As long as you aren’t putting anyone at risk, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody but you.

BUT you have to tell the truth, at least to yourself. What do you really want? Don’t set goals by what other people want, what you wish you wanted, or what you want people to think you want, but by what YOU want deep inside. Once you know that, find out exactly what you have to do to get it; lay that list like a template over your priorities. If the required behaviors match your will, find mentors and resources, put your shoulder to the wheel and get it done. If the list doesn’t fit what you truly desire, it’s okay. If you are confused about the match, behavioral health counselors can help you clarify.

No matter what, be realistic and productive in ways that generate joy for YOU. Otherwise, it’s like writing checks on an account that’s funded by your misery.

NEXT Woodsonian Musings on Monday – Manage Stress Through G. R.A.C.E.: A—Advocate for yourself.
Also check in on Woodsonian Thoughts on Thursday- Continuing series on How to Age Excellently! Put Your Hands on the Wheel and Drive Your Weight Healthy

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