I’ve accomplished goals. Some of them have led to change and some haven’t. It is rampant in American society to lose 10 pounds and gain it right back again. That is one of those goals that wasn’t accompanied by change. The rare stories are the people who have lost the 10 pounds and kept it off. That is a goal with change. What has changed?

Last week we looked at the poem Who Am I? and as homework I asked for answers. If you need to see it again, click here. I received lots of good answers: myself, subconscious, my parents, God. In some sense, none of those answers are really wrong. I know my parents’ voices are in my head continuously, but they no longer fit the other parts of the story. The author and my answer is “habit”. Read the poem again now, knowing the answer and see how well it matches your experiences: Who Am I?

The weight loss that lasted was accompanied by new habits being formed and old habits being broken. After the diet “ended”, the new habit collection maintained the weight loss. Sometimes these personal changes lead to weight gain in a good way. In one example I studied, the woman took off the weight she wanted to lose. While she was losing weight of one type, she was gaining weight of muscle and strength. Then through her new habits, equilibrium was met and she started losing less of the “bad” weight and putting on more of the “good” weight.

When we set goals, we have to start with ‘why’. Yes, it is ok if we start with ‘what’: “I want to lose 10 pounds”, but if we don’t analyze the goal, and figure out the reason why we want to lose that weight, it may not result in new habits or real change. In other words, if our ‘why’ isn’t big enough, we won’t believe or desire the change. Here is a quote I came up with, when speaking to 30 alpine ski athletes on the beach in Manzanita, Oregon during a surfing retreat break, during an intense summer ski racing camp on Mount Hood:

You are what you eat,
You play what you say,
You achieve what you believe.


I stole the first line, but that helps to remember it all. As we desire to make change, and begin the journey of replacing habits, we need a big enough ‘why’ that we begin saying we’re 10 pounds lighter to stick with the theme here. Then, we start “playing” like someone 10 pounds lighter. That playing shows up in eating practices and activity levels etc. As our Play (daily activity) matches our Say (what we tell our selves in our head) we begin to believe that it is possible. Believing, playing, and saying is the tool set that changes habits and brings lasting change into your life.

Start thinking about what changes you want to make in your life and deciding what has the biggest ‘why’. What is the most important to YOU, not your spouse, significant other or your co-workers but YOU.

Don’t get the idea that these tools only work for weight loss. That is just an easy to understand example in our American society. In fact, writing this now, I think it is completely overused by instructors of goal setting. Maybe I should try to find something more original. If you have ideas, send them my way. These tools work for any change you want to make in your life.

Next week we will examine my goal setting acronym, W.A.Y. S.M.A.R.T. Goals to set the stage for setting goals that can change your life and increase your productivity. Other topics coming our way are Process, Outcome Goals, and Willpower.