At some point in your life, you have probably taken up a challenge of sorts. Whether it was a school spelling bee, a Church Bible Reading campaign, a sales competition at work, or a personal goal to lose weight. The objective? To WIN! The Bible puts it this way; “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” My personal health challenge (last week’s blog) was no different! My goal was to drop lose 5% of my weight in 50 days. I had a goal and I was going to win!
Moving in the Wrong Direction
21 days into the health challenge – and feeling great – I was ready to get back on the scale. Sure, things could be better but I had been eating pretty well. Besides I was reaching my Fitbit steps goal on most days, and I still had 4 more weeks in the challenge. As I climbed onto the scale, it hit me like a ton of bricks! The result of my 3 weeks of hard work? I had actually gained 7 pounds and reached a new personal weight record. What happens when you realize you are moving in the wrong direction?
Time for the Excuses
Whether your goal is to get healthy spiritually, physically, or mentally, socially, or financially, coming up short stinks. So I took a deep breath, collected myself, and did what most anyone would do in that situation. I started making excuses! Every one of my excuses fell into one of these 4 main excuse categories.
Time: This has definitely become a fan favorite amongst excuse givers. “I’m just too busy.” “There’s no time to cook healthy.” “Work is killing me.” “The kids have so many activities.” “Time to pray? I hardly have time to sleep.” Yes, we are probably busier than these days. It is time to take control of your time.
Motivation: The most successful people tend to also be some of the most driven. This is why most employers look for those who are self-motivated. “I just don’t feel like doing it.” “My drive is gone.” “I wish someone was there to encourage me.” The reality is nobody will be more invested in your success than you should be.
Resource: Being unequipped can leave you feeling like you are unable to reach your goals. Want to get healthy? “I just need to make it out to the grocery store.” “If I just had that Bible commentary that Abouna Michael has, my spiritual life would be different” (In case you’re wondering, I use the Ancient Christian Commentary). With a bit of effort, some creativity, and a little research, you will be amazed what’s out there that can help you reach your goals and at a low cost. If you’re resourceful enough, you may even find it for free (everyone’s favorite price).
Priority: The reason many people decide they will “start tomorrow” (or after the next big event) is because so many people have FOMO (fear of missing out). “The food is going be really good at that company dinner.” “I’m too young to get myself serious now.” “YOLO” (you only live once). By deciding to always “start tomorrow,” what we are really saying is that our health (physical, spiritual, mental) is lower on the priority list than those other things.
Don’t Lose Heart
When I finally accepted that I had been lying to myself – and sedating my failures with excuse after excuse – it hit me that I had to take personal responsibility for my health. Feeling heavy hearted and frustrated, the battle ahead would be much harder than I had previously planned for just 3 weeks prior. Unfortunately, things oftentimes get worse before they get better, but coming to this realization can be the sobering wake-up call you need.
“The soul that loves God has its rest in God and in God alone. In all the paths that men walk in in the world, they do not attain peace until they draw near to hope in God.“
St. Isaac the Syrian (700 AD), Homily 56,89
Questions to Ponder
1. What are the biggest challenges you have to overcome when setting a new goal?
2. How do you react when you come up short on your personal goals?
 1 Corinthians 9:24