Allow me to apologize for what has turned into three posts in a row now in which I talk about my No-Sugar Challenge and my goal for weight loss. Please believe me when I tell you I never intended for this to happen when I sat down and wrote the first post, “I Want It Now” two weeks ago. I thought I was just telling you about how difficult it is to stay focused on achieving our goals while living in such an impatient, instant-gratification world.
But then last week, I had a major setback on Wednesday and Thursday with regards to my weight loss. I was so bummed out when I saw the scale showed I had gained 3 pounds in a few days instead of losing them. I immediately thought how much I needed someone, like a coach, to be there helping to encourage me and support me at that moment, while at the same time holding me accountable to stay the course. It got me thinking about how important it is that we coaches do the same for our kids as they struggle to achieve their goals. So I wrote last week’s post, “Help Them Persevere.”
I thought that was it; that was going to be the last of you having to hear about my weight loss journey over a couple of weeks. After all, you don’t care about my weight and my No-Sugar Challenge. You don’t come here to read about me; you come here to read some ideas on coaching, teaching, leadership, and helping kids have a great athletic experience. (At least, that’s why I think you come here. If that’s not why you’re here, then why the heck are you here?)
However, last Friday morning about 15 minutes after that post was emailed out to you, I got on the scale. It read 200.2 pounds. The day before it read 204. I had lost 3.8 pounds in a day! I immediately thought, “I have to write an addendum to today’s post and let people know about this.”
However, as I made my way from the bathroom to my desk, I realized that this situation is a perfect example of another very important point about achieving our goals and that rather than writing an addendum, I should just write another post that will explain this key point. So here it is. (Keep in mind, I am writing this post last Friday, right after you received the last post.)
Peaks & Valleys
As I stepped off that scale, I was elated. I was .3 pounds away from being under 200, which I haven’t been since last spring. I thought, “That is so cool. I’m right there.” Then I realized how insidious this thinking was.
Yesterday at the exact same time of day, I was depressed. I had put on 3 pounds over a couple of days. How could that be with all the things I was trying to do to lose weight?
Then this morning, I was down 3.8 pounds. I was in total euphoria over my success. And then it hit me.
“Scott, relax. This is the very nature of this whole weight loss thing. Some days you’re up and some days you’re down. The peaks and valleys are not where the reality is. The reality is somewhere in the middle. The reality is in the process. The reality is in staying consistent to what you are trying to accomplish.”
That’s when I said, “Oh, that’s another post to write. There is so much more there than just an addendum to tell people I lost a few pounds. Because the moment I tell people I lost 3.8 pounds in one day, they will be thinking, ‘Yeah right, Dude. Figure it out. People don’t lose 3.8 pounds in one day. That could be anything from you have a messed-up scale to you stood on it differently to yesterday you had just eaten right before you got on the scale but hadn’t eaten anything this morning to any other explanation that could make sense.’”
And you would be so right to think that. All of those thoughts went through my mind between stepping off the scale and sitting down at my desk. But what also hit me is that, ultimately, the 2 pounds up the day before and the 3.8 pounds down today don’t really matter. What matters is that I stay consistent to the process of achieving my goal.
I need to keep doing the things that I have been doing that are leading me in the right direction. I need to keep limiting the sugar intake the way I have for 12 days now (19 days the day you read this) – no Monster energy drinks, no sugar in my coffee, no cocktails with Coke. I need to keep considering everything that I eat before I eat it and ask myself, “Good choice or bad?” I need to keep getting to the health club and working out every day. When I stay focused on being consistent with my habits that I am establishing to achieve this goal, the results will come.
Beware the Scoreboard
The scale is a scoreboard – nothing more, nothing less. I got too focused on the scoreboard yesterday and then this morning. The scale led me to my valley yesterday and my peak this morning.
But as I stepped back and really thought about it, I realized that there were all kinds of things that led to each of those “scores” the last two mornings, some of which I may have little control over. Isn’t that what happens to all of us with our teams and our contests?
We experience a loss that we weren’t expecting, and we immediately go into a depressed state. “What happened? How could we lose that way?”
And then we have a big win where everything went our way, and we think, “Holy cow! That’s awesome! We are really good.”
Meanwhile, the truth is somewhere in the middle. The truth is that both of those scoreboard events can suck us into believing things that might not be all that true. We probably aren’t nearly as bad as we thought we were when lost, and we probably aren’t nearly as good as we thought we were when we won.
Too many variables can be at play when we win and lose. Too many things can affect outcomes of our contests for us to pinpoint any one specific thing. Sure, on any given night, one thing may contribute more than any other. But there is a sum total of our performances that actually make up the result.
And the thing that actually leads to the results more than anything else is the consistency of our habits that lead to the execution of our actions. When we consistently do the things we need to do to achieve our goals, we move in a forward direction towards those goals. We may not win every time. Heck, depending on our talent level compared to others, we may not ever win on the scoreboard. But when we do the things necessary to improve, develop, and grow to become what we are trying to become, we will “win” in so many other ways.
Focus on the Journey
This is why it is so important not to focus your goals so much on outcomes. Rather, focus your goals on the process that can lead to certain outcomes. The famous line, “Success is a journey, not a destination,” has become a cliché for many people. Sorry, but it will never be cliché for me. It is truly one of the most important guiding principles in my life.
When we focus our attention on creating the best possible journey, two things happen to the destination. The first is that we often end up at the destination we seek because of our focus on getting there a certain way. When we lay out the right plans and figure out the right path to get there and then focus our attention on those plans, we usually end up where we want to go or darn close to it.
The second thing that happens, though, is that the destination will often pale in comparison to the journey that got us there (or didn’t get us there). When you talk to champions in various sports, it is interesting to hear them talk about the experience. The moment they have won their championship, they are ecstatic. They achieved their goal, and they are standing on the top of the mountain.
But pretty soon, sometimes even during that very first conversation, just minutes after their victory, they start talking about the journey. They talk about the workouts, the preparation, the team bonding throughout the season, and all that they put into getting to that championship. Talk to them months or years later, and they will still feel joy about the championship. But what they talk about more than anything else is the journey.
Interestingly enough, when you ask members of the team who lost that championship contest, you will hear the exact same thing. Sure, it will take days, weeks, months, or years for them to get over the actual loss (if they ever do), but they all focus on what that journey to get there was like and on how much they gave to the process of getting there and how rewarding that was.
So as you and your teams are striving to achieve certain goals, remember to focus on being consistent with your habits and actions more than on the scoreboard. The scoreboard doesn’t tell you how well you did on your journey to becoming your best any more than my scale tells me how much I am improving in my desire to change my life for the better.
Set your goals based on your actions along your journey rather than the results of your destination. Then be consistent in your effort and your attitude toward achieving them. When you approach goals in this way, you cannot fail. Success truly will come from your consistent focus on your journey.
**Update – The day after I wrote this, I actually got down to 199 pounds – the first time I was below 200 pounds in almost a year! I stayed there for two more days. Then I went back up over 200 for the last three days. Again, this is just reinforcing that my focus needs to be on my process towards achieving my goals, not on specific results. And so does yours!