Week 4: Can goals make you depressed?

Whenever I set a goal for myself that requires me to change, I inevitably reach a point where I find myself negotiating with myself.

What happens is, I will be on my way to solidifying a great new set of habits, but I’ve been so caught up in the changes that I haven’t had time to look back. My mind starts to panic as it realises that the old habits, which were easier and more comfortable, are not coming back.

The tough part of this process is that I often haven’t felt the benefits of my goal yet, or I might not be sure yet whether I’ll reach it. What I am 100% sure of is that I’m missing out on the fun I used to enjoy and that makes me question my goal.

Sound familiar?

It’s the same as ending a bad relationship. You met a while back. You had some fun dates. You fell in love. Your friends became friends. You grew into each other’s lives and it was comfortable. But, it’s not working anymore, you need to break up, and there’s collateral damage. What about all of your friends, your parents, the bar you used to frequent and who keeps the Mumford tickets? Do you think it might be easier to give it another try than deal with the mess?

The thing is, when you break up with someone, you have to try hard to remember the bad times. The great times are all over you like a rash.

Similarly, you’ve just changed your diet. There is stuff. You haven’t fully grasped your new diet yet and might not have seen results, but one thing is certain and that is, no one around you gives a damn. Your friends’ lives just carry on. Theyeat what they want. You hate them for it. You hate yourself more for changing your stupid diet, or thinking bigger than yourself. You’re all sitting at a dessert table and you feel like you’re watching all of your friends hook up with your ex at the same time.

It hurts.

So, what do you do?

I had that feeling last week. Someone brought chocolate chip hot cross buns to our weekend away. That’s like Easter and Christmas at the same time. I didn’t get angry. I got sad. I wanted to cheat, but the only thing that kept me going was the thought of achieving my goal (and the fear of not achieving it).

I’m glad I bet the entire reader base I would get a six-pack or I would definitely have cheated. I suppose you could say the goal setting framework I laid out in the beginning of the challenge worked. Although my stupid six-pack challenge is getting in the way of me enjoying weekends away, the way I set the goal will not allow me to veer off the path. I’m so terrified of not getting my six-pack on time that I can’t cheat. It’s pretty much out of my hands.

What’s the takeaway?

I’ll answer it with another question. If you have a goal and you know it’s going to get tough, are you crystal clear on why you’ve set the goal? If you aren’t clear, you’ll be able to manipulate yourself into chickening out sooner than you can say ‘hot cross bun’. If you’ve had the mirror chat already and your goal is bigger than you, keep your head down and go for gold.

The good news is, this week I can see results so motivation is becoming easier. There is light at the end of the tunnel.