Sometimes we delude ourselves into believing we have set a goal, when all we have actually done is fantasised a version of ourselves that we like the idea of.
I’d love to have stomach muscles. But I have to be honest: not ever in this life am I going to choose a schedule of multiple sit-ups. I hate them and would spend every day disappointed in myself. Hence, I have not set ‘being a person with abs’ as a goal.
I’m not saying never do anything you don’t enjoy; avoiding stuff I don’t feel like is a bad habit of mine. (How many months can an adult get away with not opening their mail?) It’s that I think we should be honest with ourselves about what we are and aren’t really prepared to put into our routine existence.
Most days I cycle through Cardiff’s beautiful Bute Park: fresh air, movement and the fact that it’s free please me greatly. Sometimes, I’m too fatigued to feel safe on a bike or can’t face faffing with waterproofs (inevitable in Wales), but mostly it’s a habit. If it happens to make me less squidgy-middled, yay me, but that’s not my goal.
In fact, the more fashionable extreme challenges become, the less inclined I feel to set goals at all: No (more) judgy, shouty voices in my head thank-you. Instead, I’m thinking about about what values I’m motivated by and whether my habits match or contradict them: it means allowing the process to take care of the results.
I’ve taken to meditating in my garden every night; as I open the back door, Sefi bounds out there with me: the two of us silhouetted under the stars, her stalking insects, me sitting in pajamas and boots. We live in a back to back terrace, and I must look, er… eccentric, but so what? It’s a habit that feeds and saves me, so I do it.
Choose your habits and you are choosing what kind of life you want and who you want to be. Forget your fantasy self and put your focus on committing to regular practice in an area of your life you want to develop: you might be surprised by what happens.