I’m one of those people who likes to set goals. BIG, big fan of goal-setting here. I thrive in the face of a challenge, hence my storied history of physical endeavors - triathlon, getting certified in everything humanly possible, yadda yadda yadda.
What I love about goals that are rooted in the physical realm is that they are inextricably influenced by mental and emotional components that serve as powerful tools for getting to know yourself. Can I commit myself to carving out the time to train for this tri, day in and out, for 6 months? How do I respond to obstacles, like the desire to head to happy hour and skip a training session?
In accomplishing these missions of mine, I’ve realized something. I AM A TOTAL BADASS (excuse my French). In these challenges that require total alignment of the physical, mental and emotional, I have totally dominated so many of my perceived limitations. Fitness has been one of the most, if not the most empowering thing in my life for this reason - I’ve been able to see my body and my mind as infinitely more strong, resilient, beautiful and wise than I had ever imagined.
What happens, then, when goals go awry? In early June, I sprained my ankle while running. I’d been training for a triathlon that is scheduled for next weekend. And, as I learned, ankle sprains are like, actually a big deal. They are the real deal as far as injuries go. WHO KNEW. As a result, I’ve had to concede that this triathlon is not feasible (It took 5 weeks of physical therapy before I could even resume jogging). I am just now picking up my yoga practice again. My cardiorespiratory fitness has plummeted, and I’ve gained a few pounds.
Talk about Bummer City. The extent to which I was totally bummed by this setback allowed me to I see how much I had been clinging to these goals, to my identity as an athlete, and to my use of movement as a therapeutic tool.
After a lot of time sitting on my cushion and engaging in other nourishing non-physical practices, I’ve begun to see that goal-setting can also be a form of addiction. There will be times when powers beyond my control prevent me from achieving my goals; there will be times when I simply can’t make it happen. The question is - Can I continue to feel powerful, strong, beautiful and wise despite my vulnerability and total, utter lack of control? Can I see myself as the wholeness that I seek even when I am literally falling to pieces? I know I can, because I know I am. I've experienced it.
I feel that I need to break the cycle of relying on the accomplishment of goals to feel that I'm a total badass. Even though I'm a little wobbly, a little less fit, a pound or two heavier, I'm going to remind myself everyday that I'm a beautiful badass. I don’t need to prove it to myself, or anyone else, over and over again.
I still believe that setting goals can be useful and empowering. They can be a window through which we learn about ourselves and view ourselves in a new light. (In fact, I’m already figuring out which tri to register for next summer!) At this moment, I need to give my body and heart a little bit of rest, a little bit of love, and the acknowledgement that strength flows through me even when I may not be able to feel it.
I would love to hear your experience with goals - have you ever gotten stuck in an addictive cycle of goal-setting??