Can You Make Progress Without A Goal?

Can You Make Progress Without A Goal?

There is not a single person who has inspired me to live a healthy life, per se.

Sure, I could say that after losing my father to cancer it inspired me to live a healthier life, and yes, this is very true.

I could also say that coming from a family that struggles with health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is what inspires me to live a healthy life, and again, this is also very true.

Mostly I think what inspires me to live a healthy lifestyle is, to me, it’s the only option that makes sense. 

I have talked in previous posts about the type of lifestyle I used to lead; drinking and eating whatever and whenever I wanted.  Exercising intermittently (or not at all).

Struggling with binge eating and bulimia from the age of 15 certainly didn’t paint a blossoming portrait of health for myself either.  Using food as an emotional crutch to deal with my generalized anxiety and feelings of shame is now a concept that scares me.

Much like an alcoholic in recovery fears to return to the bottle; I am afraid of the reality of feeding my emotions to starve my well being.

2007 2015

2007                                                                                                   2015

I also live a life of progress and an unknown destination.  The very idea of having a concrete “destiny,” to me, is foolish.  Life is unpredictable, and the only thing we have any control over is what we do today.

How can You live a Healthy Life of progress without a goal?

By its very definition, progress is a forward or onward movement towards a destination.  However, when it comes to healthy living, I feel that a goal, or an act of appointing, setting aside for a purpose, or predetermining, can stunt progress by its very nature.

How many people make the statement, “if I just weighed 10 pounds less I’d be happier”? Lots of people, right?  I know I’ve said it thousands of times and I’ve lost that ten pounds over and over, but guess what?  I wasn’t happier.  How can that be?  I got to my “healthy” destination, right?  I lost the weight, which is something I thought would bring me happiness, but still, it’s not enough.

If you’re someone who thinks like myself, you might soon begin to feel defeated, empty, and wind up thinking, “that didn’t work, so clearly my standards are too low ” or “I guess I need to do better than this, maybe I need to lose another 10 pounds?”

You may argue that this is where you would continue your progress, and maybe your destination will then change, but the problem isn’t making progress by losing weight but is that you put too much pressure on the outcome.  You predetermine that once you got to your goal, everything would be better and that you would be happier.

The reality is a letdown when you discover that you’re no more content where you thought you “should” be, and frustrated that there will always be more you “should” do.

I know that fundamentally there is nothing that automatically makes my life better by weighing 98 pounds versus weighing 125 pounds, other than the fact that I may (or may not) have a healthier BMI with one versus the other.

However, don’t even get me started on the problems with BMI numbers.  I have discussed my issues with disordered eating in more depth, but that’s not really what this post is.

It’s important for me to stress my point, which is, when we strive for a predetermined “ideal” of healthy living, or what we perceive to be our “stopping point,” we walk a fine line of losing sight of our journey. Our daily focus should be on making healthy choices in the here and now.  This scenario changes by setting your sights on a result which you may or may not be able to attain, be it physical, mental, or emotional.  We all should know that unrealistic expectations sign us up for a lifelong membership to “club misery.”  Period.

I also want to stress that when I say destination, I am not using the word interchangeably with the term goal. Goals, or the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired resultcan be made as a way to mark progress, but your goals should not be the be-all and end-all of your journey.  One can have many goals in their lifetime, all of which are attainable through continued progress.

So, again, when I’m asked: “Who inspires me to live a healthy life?” Well, I do, because I’ve been on the other side of good health before, and honestly, there’s simply no contest. Healthy living wins every time.  It’s my progress.  It’s a continuing goal.  It’s limitless, not quantifiable by any chart, and amazing.  It’s life.

can you make progress without a goal?

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Where do you find your inspiration for living a healthy life? Join the conversation with Jessica and Jill!



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  1. March 31, 2015 / 10:16 am

    nice post! I do believe life is made up of many goals in our journey, I believe a positive attitude and open mind help that journey along. I too feel sad when I hear people say oh I would be happy if I could lose 5 pounds but when it happens they still are not happy. Life is meant to be lived and I choose to be happy, even if I am having a fat day. 🙂

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 11:18 am

      So true, Mary Beth! I have so many “fat” days, but I always do try to remind myself that it’s continuous hard work and dedication that should dominate my thoughts! Thanks so much for reading!

  2. March 31, 2015 / 10:52 am

    I really love this post, and completely agree with you that making progress is super important, and so many people can get hung up on the outcomes that they forget to look back and see how far they’ve come since they started!

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 11:20 am

      Absolutely, Farrah! I bet someone like you with your medical career has to keep this sort of mindset as well! The key really is not to get too hung up on anything. Maybe sometimes I even get too hung up on goals, but I try to remind myself that I’m the one setting them and it’s FOR me — so it won’t make or break me. 🙂

  3. March 31, 2015 / 11:33 am

    I have learned that my destination has to come from within to feel successful progression and forgiveness for the occasional slide backward.

    Great post Erin! #fitfamlove xoxo

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 11:39 am

      Thanks, Jill! Oh you’re too right, forgiveness of that occasional slide backward is very essential! I agree!

  4. March 31, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    I can definitely see similarities between our thinking. I know when I finally got close to what I wanted to look like on the outside, I was more miserable than ever on the inside. It take a lot of work to clean up the inside part and then I find that the outside just naturally follows. Good post!

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 2:20 pm

      Thanks, Erin! Yeah, I’m actually working on a post all about cleaning up inside! You know what they say about thinking alike, great minds and all! #TeamErin lol

  5. March 31, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    I love how you say, ‘it’s the only thing that makes sense.’ OH MY GOSH…I just love that. And, ain’t it true. Really, living unhealthy is pure craziness, it’s just this crazy modern world that throws wrenches in the system. Haha. I just have never thought of it that way before. I am inspired by your story, Erin! You are truly so beautiful. SO happy we’re friends. #fitfamlove

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 2:57 pm

      You’re such a sweetheart, Jessica! You inspire me all the time! 🙂 I feel like “it’s the only thing that makes sense” should be my life tagline lol

  6. March 31, 2015 / 3:34 pm

    Like you, my inspiration doesn’t really come from any one source. There are a lot of places I get inspirational pick me ups.. I know it sounds cheesy, but I like looking at Pinterest pins if I’m starting to need a quick jolt of excitement in healthy living, lol! Great post! <3 –

    • Erin
      March 31, 2015 / 4:29 pm

      Girl, I love me some Pinterest! I have found lots of neat exercise ideas on there! I spend literal hours of my life reading about makeup tips, baked goods, and cardio! lol

  7. April 1, 2015 / 5:13 am

    I’ve tried many different “crash” diets, giving myself unrealistic weight achievement targets. Over the years I learned that kicking myself for not achieving my weight targets was silly, and only made me miserable, a member of “club misery” as you say in your excellent post. “Our daily focus should be on making healthy choices in the here and now.” When you said that, I was nodding! That is exactly what I try to do now. Great inspirational read Erin! 🙂

    • Erin
      April 1, 2015 / 6:38 am

      Aww thanks, Neil! Club misery sucks lol! I’ve had people ask me before if I’m a “12 Stepper” because I say the “here and now” and “one day at a time” stuff, but really, it’s because of the anxiety I’ve suffered in my life. I have to constantly remind myself that all I have to do is get through today the best I can so that tomorrow it will get easier! Thanks so much for your kind words! 🙂

  8. April 1, 2015 / 7:35 pm

    I love this sentiment. I make the choices I do because they make me feel good/happy/fulfilled. That’s what a healthy lifestyle is all about!

    • Erin
      April 1, 2015 / 9:38 pm

      Very true, Laura! Those are the best reasons to do anything and it’s amazing when those reasons are for our health and wellness! Also, you make awesome foods. Just had to throw that in there! 🙂

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