I was recently in a conversation with a friend who was lamenting about how much weight she needed to lose. Admittedly, she has a fair amount of weight she would like to lose; roughly over 100 pounds. Her sentiments were that this was going to be such a long journey, and that she just couldn’t wait until she reached her goal. She would finally be happy.
I totally understand her sentiments. There is something to setting goals and reaching for them. Accomplishing them is also very satisfying. However, I don’t think true happiness comes from simply accomplishing a goal. If you have a goal to lose 100 pounds, I don’t believe you instantly become happier once you step on the scale and realized you have finally reached your goal.
“Happiness is a journey…not a destination.”
I know this quote may be somewhat cliché in a lot of ways. However, if you really think about the quote, it holds a lot of truth. I believe that one of the ways happiness is derived in the realm of goal setting is the actual pursuit of the goal. You derive happiness along the way. You don’t become happy when you reach your goal or destination.
I’ve set goals in the past and reached them. I would assume we all have. My experience with reaching goals is that I feel almost a sense of relief and temporary joy from having reached the goal. However, I have never felt like I was a happier person because of reaching a goal.
Taking it back to my friend and her weight loss efforts. I think it’s extremely important to find happiness in the journey and find ways to celebrate success along the way. The goal of losing over a 100 pounds can seem daunting and overwhelming. If you focus only on the pounds lost, it’s possible one could become easily discouraged. But there’s so much to focus on than just the number on the scale.
So what’s my advice for my friend or for anyone with a weight loss goal, whether it’s big or small?
Focus on the non-scale victories.
Here are three non-scale victories that helped me through my weight loss journey and can help you find happiness during your journey as well:
- Celebrate small changes in your body.
I had a nutrition and fat loss coach a couple of years ago who had me take weekly progress pictures for my check ins with her. When I first started doing this, I didn’t really see the value of weekly pictures. I mean how much can really in change in a week? Boy was I wrong. There were weeks when I could see visible improvements and changes in my body. True, they were often very subtle, but I could still see changes nonetheless.
But what was even more important about these pictures is the value they held on weeks when the scale didn’t move despite my best efforts. Instead of getting discouraged that the scale hadn’t move and I seemingly didn’t lose any weight, I was encouraged because I could still see positive changes in my body.
2. Celebrate the changes in your physical fitness.
When I first started strength training, I could barely string together a few pushups. My 30 minute strength training sessions felt like an eternity when I was first getting started. Everything was so hard. But as the weeks went by, I saw my strength increasing each week. My physical health was improving, and I was feeling better every single week.
Regardless of the number of the scale, I knew that I was getting stronger and healthier. It was a huge victory for me!
3. Focus on how much better you feel.
Even if the scale didn’t move, it didn’t change the fact that I was feeling better. My eating habits had improved. I was eating more nutrient dense foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and more protein. I felt great. I no longer felt sluggish and tired. I had so much energy. Although weight loss was my goal, feeling better and having more energy was actually way more important than the number on the scale.
Although weight loss was my original goal, I found happiness and joy in the pursuit. If I waited to become happy until I reached the goal, I think that I would always be chasing the next goal and never find true happiness because the euphoria of reaching a goal is fleeting; its temporary. But you can always derive happiness from worthy objectives.
I also learned that in the pursuit of any goal, there is so much to celebrate during the journey. These celebrations may even become more important than reaching the actual goal itself. During my weight loss journey, I actually lost sight of the scale and the non-scale victories became even more important and meaningful to me. I’ll leave you with the following quote:
“Happiness grows less from the passive experience of desirable circumstances than from the involvement in valued activities and progress towards one’s goals.”
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