If GOALS stress you out--
read this!

I spend all day teaching things to my clients, but I absolutely love when my clients teach me things as well. The following is an email I received from a client who shared with me a couple of websites that really helped her implement some of the fitness objectives we had been working on together. Even though she had much success working with me and my staff, she reached an even higher level after finding this information that really 'clicked' for her, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

NOTE: Everyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of Goals. However the biggest thing I believe is that there are 'different strokes for different folks' and no one approach works for everyone. I always am interested in learning different strategies that can work for different people.


Hi Gina!

Happy new year to you!! I hope this finds you well!

I wanted to let you know about something I've been reading about and experimenting with. I don't know if you've heard of this blog, Zen Habits, by Leo Babauta. I LOVE it, it's 1 of only 2 blogs I subscribe to, and I actually look forward to receiving his emailed posts. One of his ideas, which I gather is pretty controversial, is what he calls 'no goals.' It was actually summarized well in recent post by a guest writer, I can forward it to you.

But anyway, the idea is that instead of having specific goals you try to attain, you should try to develop and incorporate good daily habits into your life, modest ones, which presumably will eventually lead you towards what otherwise might have been your goals but will have many other good effects too and might take you places you might not have imagined and so been able to capture in pre-set goals.

I don't know how I feel about this as a general approach to everything I do (sounds scary, which he admits), but it resonated with me as far as nutrition and fitness go. I remember telling you once that the 'Track It' program, keeping logs, etc. made me too focused on food and exercise, and the aim of losing fat or eating more protein or whatever it was started to feel very oppressive, as though it dominated my whole life. But of course not doing that comes with the risk that one doesn't plan anything properly and so never reaches one's goals. The 'no goals' approach strikes me as a a good middle way for people who feel similarly to me, where the aim is to incorporate daily habits but without any particular endpoint in mind, simply with the trust that consistent and steady good habits will have good results, and where periodically you assess where you're at and tweak your habits as necessary.

I've been following this for my eating and exercise for about 2 months now, and I LOVE it. Every day, I try to eat moderately, minimize/eliminate bad foods, try to eat protein/fruit/veggies as much as I can. But I don't obsess over calories or protein grams, etc. And every day I try to be active in some way or other, even if it's just walking for 15 mins (although usually it's more than that). And 3 times/week I do your weights workouts plus jump roping intervals.

On a week to week basis, the changes are not noticeable, but I am now 3 sizes smaller and remain injury free! And I feel terrific physically. I would still like to be 2-3 sizes smaller eventually, but I am not obsessing over that as a goal, simply trusting that these good habits will get me there eventually, and if not, I will reassess what I need to modify on a daily basis. These habits seem sustainable to me, and this approach also has the advantage that there is no slacking off as I approach/reach a goal, which I would often do before because I would feel like I had worked long and hard and now was "finished" and could relax. But really one is never finished when it comes to good nutrition and fitness. Whereas the idea of daily habits shifts the focus to permanent lifestyle change, but where the changes can be small and steady because they need to be sustainable and one isn't sprinting for specific goals. So far it's working really well for me, especially since once the habits are in place, there is no rethinking every decision (should I eat this cookie, or not? The answer is no, unless it's a special occasion), and so I can set aside constant thoughts about eating/exercise as I wanted to and focus on other things.

Anyway, sorry this got so long, but I thought I'd pass it on in case you might be interested in addressing it in one of your newsletters at some point. Also, I'm including 2 links about it here:

Zen Habits: No Goal

Zen Habits: Best Year

Have a comment or question about this article?

Please share it here!

[ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

 submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.