Yesterday’s post in this real health series was on how to set health goals for the new year. I explained how to set SMART goals to help you to move towards whatever true health looks like for you. I do believe that setting goals can be a great way to give you motivation and direction and create a framework for your actions. However, is achieving goals really the way to ultimate health and happiness? In post #3 of this real health series, I want to talk about how being too focused on goals can move you away from health rather than towards it and how letting go of the over-controller can be helpful when trying to make positive, healthy changes in your life.
Goal setting is a very masculine approach to getting things done. By this I don’t mean it is for men, I mean that it is a very focused, purpose-driven, logical, left side brain approach. Setting and achieving goals involves a lot of mental energy for planning, taking specific actions, tracking and analysing your progress. This isn’t a bad thing but we always want to make sure we are balancing this out with a more feminine free-flowing energy or we can become too rigid, pressurized and stressed out. Our bodies can become tense and tight because our nervous system is constantly in fight or flight mode. Everyone knows nowadays that high levels of stress can causes all sorts of health issues from high blood pressure and weight gain to insomnia and anxiety. For women, living too much in the masculine energy can also lead to hormonal imbalances which affect our menstrual cycles and our fertility. So if your overall goal is to become healthier, reduce your risk of disease and feel better, setting yourself strict goals might actually be more harmful than helpful!
One of the signs of being too much in your masculine energy with your health goals is the presence of the perfectionist or the over-controller. This could look like micro-managing every aspect of your life, excessively planning or monitoring your actions, being focused on your health goals at the expense of enjoying life or feeling guilty and beating yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Nowadays with smart technology like fitness watches and apps it’s possible to collect more data about ourselves than ever. We can record how many steps we do in a day, measure and track the calories and nutrients in the food that we eat and monitor our heart rate, hours and quality of sleep. Again, I’m not saying that these habits are bad things but when they become obsessive and we are trying to control every aspect of our health then is it really healthy?
Or maybe you are feeling frustrated because you are doing everything right but you aren’t getting the results you expect according to whatever formula you are using. Maybe your goal is to lose weight so you eat the recommended calories to lose 1kgs a week and you actually gain 0.5kg in the first week. Maybe you start a strength training program and you aren’t seeing any muscle gains. Or perhaps you have started to meditate for 10 minutes a day but you are still feeling anxious and stressed. Unfortunately our bodies are not machines. There are so many things that can affect the way we look and feel in our bodies and how we respond to lifestyle changes including our genetics, metabolic health, quality of sleep, the climate we live in and how much stress and responsibility we have in our lives. If we try to control things and become fixated on a certain outcome we will only end up disappointed. And this is assuming that we are able stick to the goals we set for ourselves..
But another problem with setting goals is that we don’t always consider how life can get in the way and turn things upside down. Look at this year, who would have expected in January that we would spend nearly the whole year stuck at home in lockdown?! How many of us set goals at the start of 2020 to go to the gym more or spend time with friends and family that quickly went out of the window? And on the less extreme end of the scale, what about when life events get in the way of your health goals? It could be a holiday that interrupts your training schedule or a wedding or birthday celebration with lots of yummy foods that are off your diet plan. We want to be able to go with the flow and be more flexible and intuitive rather than feeling like a failure if we don’t stick exactly to our plan.
So am I saying that you should totally give up, surrender to life and not set any goals? No. We always want to find balance between masculine and feminine energies. We can do this by setting goals to work towards that will challenge us and guide us into the person we want to be but also giving ourselves freedom to change things that aren’t working and remaining flexible, being willing to adapt to whatever life throws at us. We can track our progress against our goals without becoming obsessive and constantly collecting data on how well we are doing. When we set goals we always want to build in wriggle room, allowing ourselves room to breathe and be more intuitive and we want to have self-compassion and acceptance when we don’t do things perfectly. We aren’t the same person on a day to day basis, especially women as we move through our hormonal cycle each month, so we can’t set goals expecting ourselves to be like robots.
Your task for today is to reflect on your goals and actions and see whether the over-controller is present in your life. Take a few moments to focus on your breath and let go of any tension in your body Notice how it feels to be relaxed and focused and try to approach your health goals from this energy.
Over to you…
I hope you enjoyed this article and the series so far. Let me know in the comments below your experience with setting goals and the over-controller.
- If you want to follow along with this Real Health January blog series, like this post and follow my blog for daily updates. And please share with anyone you think might be interested!
- If you are looking for guidance, support and accountability on you health journey, please contact me for information on the nutrition and holistic health coaching packages I offer. I would love to work together with you to get you feeling your best again.