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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Why Goal Setting is Harmful Part II

My post on the dangers of goal setting has struck a few nerves. If you interested in a blogtroversy (blogs+controversy - I'm clever at words you know LOL) then read this post and comments from Sue from Ideal Bodies Online, and this post and comments from Liz from The Fitness Solution.

I have been thinking about why the notion of goal setting doesn't work for me and I think there is more to consider.

The most important thing in my life is my husband Mr Katie. I would kill for him and die for him. He is my rock, my soul mate and the greatest source of happiness in my life. We have a wonderful relationship.

If I believed that the goal setting was the way to make significant and lasting improvements I would spend every Sunday afternoon planning how I am going to achieve/maintain a wonderful relationship with Mr Katie during the next 7 day.

1. Specific Goal = Mr Katie and I will have a wonderful loving relationship
2. Measureable = I will know we have a wonderful relationship because Mr Katie will give me 5 compliments, kiss me 14 times, do the washing up on Friday and shag me silly on Tuesday.
3. Actionable = I will be especially nice to him this week, I will make an effort to look beautiful, I will cook him dinner on Tuesday night (ergo he will want to shag me).
4. Realistic = He's never done the washing up on Friday before but I am making this a stretch/challenge goal
5. Timely = To be completed by the end of this week.

On Monday Mr Katie is particularly stressed at work and comes home in a foul mood and doesn't want to talk let alone kiss me or compliment me. I am nice to him but he is so wrapped up in his own problems he doesn't hear me.

On Tuesday I get sick. I have the flu and I stay home from work. My eyes are red, my nose is running and I spend the day in my stained and torn most comfortable track suit pants. I don't cook dinner because I can barely stand up and shagging is out of the question.

On Wednesday and Thursday I stay late at work to catch up on the work that I missed by being sick and Mr Katie's roster means he is in bed by the time I get home. We text each other during the day but we don't get to speak more than a few words.

On Friday night we are both exhausted from a huge week. We decide to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment and while Mr Katie is finishing off some things so he can go out with me, I do the washing up like I usually do.

On Saturday we get to hang out together. During the day have a heated debate about spirituality (he's an atheist and  I believe in a higher power), and spend most of our time in different rooms at opposite ends of the house. Occasionally we pass each other in the hallway or the kitchen and share some interesting thought that has just occurred to us.

On Sunday I sit down to check on my goals for the past week. I have missed every single one -- only 2 compliments, 7 kisses, he didn't do the washing up and we didn't shag. I wasn't always nice, I looked pretty ordinary when I was sick and I didn't cook him a meal.

My relationship is not as wonderful as I thought it was.

I know this is a bit silly but my story illustrates what happens when I apply the business model of performance goal setting to my relationship with my body. Let me say that again in case you missed it. I have a relationship with my body in the same way I have a relationship with my husband.

Goal setting is an artificial constraint that can distort my perception of reality. It would be completely logical to conclude that I had failed to improve my relationship with my husband for that week if I relied on the criteria I had set out in my plan. But you and I know that there is nothing wrong with my marriage.

When I am in a relationship I take the good with the bad. I love my husband unconditionally and I understand that his behaviour and his opinions doesn't alter the fact that he loves me. I know that I don't need to be beautiful or nice or the perfect wife to deserve his love. Neither of us has to change we just have to grow and learn together and be committed to never giving up.

So enough with the goals that prescribe how what I am going to 'do' this week/month/12 weeks to have my 'best body ever'. I am simply committed to being in a relationship with my body by growing, learning and never giving up.


  1. Did he turn atheist after you got married or do you purposely marry someone who believes differently than you on a tremendously important topic?

  2. Hi Makarios
    I purposely married him because I loved who he is not what he believes. If it was so tremendously important to agree on everything we wouldn't still in love and together for almost 20 years. ♥

  3. Anonymous12:26 pm

    oh drama in the blog world!! :):) good stuff :) hehe i enjoy your posts katie so keep em comin!

  4. I know this is a serious subject, but I nearly peed my pants laughing at your ridiculous relationship goal example. Ta for the chuckles!

  5. I love it Katie - the worst part is that I did something similar with my poor hubby - I planned on having sex every day for a week and it was pretty much a disaster from the outset because I think on the first night the girls got some spewing virus and good lovin' was not on the cards whatsoever. So now I just enjoy his company without any agendas...he hee

  6. Lizzy and Kerryn - you're welcome

    Liz - OMG every day for a week, I obviously need to raise the bar (so to speak)LOL

  7. Hahahaha! Funny post Katie!!! I dunno, - should a cold stop ya on Tuesday??? Maybe I'm more determined there haha!

  8. Anonymous1:07 pm

    bwahahahahahahahaha LOVE IT - fricken hilarious!!