I am referring to the idea of setting realistic expectations for myself. Like a lot of people, I have a terrible habit of going too big with my goals and expectations and then when I do not see major progress quickly, I get discouraged and quit. For example, I will often start a new fitness plan and work out three or four times. Then I weigh myself and see zero progress or even worse, I gain a few pounds. Then I get mad and give up. Or I may write a few posts and then check to see if anyone has visited the site. I see no improvement in the site visitor statistics and again get discouraged and quit for a couple of months. Do you see a pattern? I do.
What keeps happening is that I go into a new discipline without setting realistic expectations and as a result, failure is almost a certainty. Setting realistic expectations is really important to achieving lasting success. I recently listened to a podcast calledWrite Now. The host, Sarah Werner did an early episode entitled “Five Steps to Making Your Writing Goals a Reality” and she discusses this very subject. She tells how setting realistic expectations allows you to set realistic, and attainable goals. Once you begin to meet these goals regularly, you are well on your way to what we really want and that is making it a habit.
In my case, it began a couple of months ago with the decision to purchase my indoor exercise bike. I had decided to be much more realistic with my expectations about becoming physically fit. For me, as a blind person, I always felt like I had to depend on others for my fitness. As a result, I never really got very far with it because at the end of day, my fitness is my responsibility, not my spouse or my friends. I had to figure out what I had to do in order to reach my goals. What was really realistic? What could I do to make it easier to be successful?
With the arrival of the bike, I then began to plan to exercise with it. In my case, this meant setting out my clothes the night before, setting an alarm and then going to bed early enough to allow myself enough sleep for the next day, even if I were to get up an hour early to ride or walk. By removing those barriers to doing the exercise, I have removed my excuses that I always fall back on and which lead to failure. And then the really important part, the expectation of result. I no longer expect massive improvements in short timespans. I had to decide that the end result was not the point. Instead, it is the process that had to matter. I have come to realize that the freedom to exercise on my own and how I feel afterwards is what really mattered to me. My more realistic expectation now, is to ride or walk, three to five times a week in the morning before work and to feel good. That’s it. No strings attached of weight loss or anything else.
In the same way, I am wanting to write more on this blog and in my own journals. I have had this desire for a long time. I am striving to allow time for it. To accomplish this goal I need to remove distractions like social media and the rabbit hole that always seems to suck me in when visiting Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I have uninstalled Facebook from my phone and tablet and surprise, surprise, I have found myself far less distracted.
I am realizing that the expectation of reaching thousands of visitors is not realistic and to reset my thinking. To me, what has always been important is just doing the work, doing the writing. If that is what I enjoy then my expectation should be that I write for my own benefit, to get the words from my head to the page, so to speak. My goal is to write and post two to three posts per week. That’s it. No expectation of outside validation or visitor counts.
Am I seeing improvements? I think so, but I am not going to weigh myself with the risk of sabotaging my success. I know myself and know how that could hinder me. I especially need to avoid weighing myself when my wife is around. She likes to sneak up on my blind side and push her foot on the scale which really flubs up the numbers!
Besides, weight loss is not the point. Feeling better and improving my heart health is and I definitely see strides in those areas. Am I writing more? This is my third post this week, so at the moment, yes. That is what matters and I need to keep my sights set on that. It is important to keep my focus on the process. Focusing on making small, regular deposits in these areas and allowing the benefits to build over time. Finding ways to keep it fun and continue to remove obstacles from my path. Keeping my expectations realistic and thus my goals are attainable.