Last year, I participated in an online accountability group. A friend and I shared our goals and attempted to keep each other accountable. We each chose physical, spiritual, and emotional goals that were realistic and measurable. We aimed for 100-day challenges and every 10 days we adjusted and tweaked daily milestones. Two of us completed the challenge twice, and we invited a third friend for the final yearly challenge. It looked good on paper and should have worked.
But it didn’t. We evaluated our efforts and noted some things we wanted to change for 2022. By the 3rd challenge, even though we adjusted at 10-day increments, the 100-day length became wearying. Another issue was that we kept trying to simultaneously reach goals in 3 areas. Initially, we felt this was important because our spiritual and emotional health affects physical health. We still hold this to be true, but sometimes, we let our emotional or spiritual accomplishments substitute for broken physical objectives, trying to justify our weakened resolve by pointing out we met 2 of 3 goals.
However, the primary goal for me was to change physically. I want more than simple weight loss; I am seeking physical health. That includes not just mindful eating, but active movement, adequate sleep, and intentional recreation. Spiritual and emotional goals are equally important, but they are “easy” goals on my list that are not likely to be neglected instead of pursuing physical health and wholeness.
We are starting in February with monthly goals – focusing on ONE area, not three, to track. At the end of the month, I may decide to repeat the same focus if my new habits need it; or transition to another area if I’m seeing consistency. The daily check-in with my friends will help me determine if the habit has become mine, or if I’m only doing it to avoid accountability.
We didn’t officially start in January because the date is not magic. Habits can start any year/month/week or day. My friends and I were all out of town for several days at our writer’s retreat in January, focusing on meeting those goals. Even without planning to start, I focused on more mindful eating. I will admit, I did better at home than at our retreat, where I felt “obligated” to enjoy the abundant snacks everyone brought – because apparently, we didn’t think anyone else would bring any.
Because I think I’ll continue to follow my eating boundaries into February, I am choosing to focus on moving more. This will be my “move-it” month and right now, the song from Madagascar is playing in my head. I plan to work out at least 3 times a week and aim for 5 purposeful days of activity. I own an elliptical so the weather won’t be an excuse to not walk, and I have an abundance of strength training bands and light weights. It will look different from my training days for powerlifting competition, but my life stage and focus are different now.
I’ll let you know how things are going. I’m trying to remember that every day working on my goals is to be celebrated; progress is progress.