Western society has trained us to be short-fused high-tempered instant-gratification seeking humans. This is dangerous for a lot of reasons: it’s tricking us into thinking that an extreme diet is going to fix whatever we think is wrong with our bodies, it’s tricking us into spending thousands of dollars on dangerous supplements, and it’s making us impatient in working toward our long game. Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We are killing ourselves believing that something short-lived is going to save our lives. How many years have we accumulated up to now? How could it be safe for us to think we could cause changes overnight? By the way, in case no one has told you today, there’s NOTHING wrong with your body or anyone else’s.
In order for any changes we make to our bodies and lives to stick, we have to set SMART goals. I want to challenge you beyond the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. Always set SMART goals but also, more importantly, set behaviour goals.
WHY? If we focus on the outcome, we’ll never be satisfied. Even if we do reach it, then what? We’ve already run out of goals to set, so we become de-motivated or arrogant that the work we’ve put in can finally come to an end. Hate to break it to you, but as long as you are still breathing, the work will never be done. This can feel really overwhelming for someone who is looking to make that first change, and take that first step.
The good news is that if you focus on the behaviour, you will be happier when the behaviour shifts from “work” to habit. Those habits are what will lead to you the outcome you desire. What if it doesn’t? Then the behaviour needs to change again, again, and again. If you feel better, and better, and BETTER with each behaviour change, then guess what? The outcome will matter less and less and less. Behaviour change is definitely NOT easy. However, outcome has only one standard of measure, usually numerical.
Behaviour however, can have so many measurable and immeasurable outcomes that it has no “end point”. It can always be enriched with further complexity, context, and personal value. This makes the lifelong process of behaviour change that much more enriching and empowering. The old adage “life is about the journey, not about the destination” rings true here; an outcome goal is the destination. If we obsess over details like macronutrient consumption or how much weight lost in a week, we don’t get to be relaxed or appreciative enough of our journey. Honour your journey, and only do things that will make you happy! When you die, no one is going to remember you for the amount of carbohydrates you skipped in a day, or how diligent you were about eating vegetables. People are going to remember you for the crazy passions you pursued head first.
Further reading: another good article about outcome vs. behaviour goals was posted to the Precision Nutrition website.