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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