What’s the deal with my timeline anyway?

This meme cracks me up… because I’ve totally said it to myself and it got me thinking about timelines and personal goals. When I decide I want to make a change I want it now and part of that mentality often includes an artificial timeline in which I believe I should be able to accomplish a goal. If I’m not keeping pace with that schedule I’m disappointed, frustrated, and petulant and in the worst case scenario I give up on the goal all together.  I see this same time restriction with some of my clients and on social media, especially when it comes to weight loss.

As a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers, I’m a frequent user of their Connect community, which is basically Facebook for Weight Watchers members, but a really positive and supportive space where trolls are not welcome. I cannot tell you how many times a day I see a post about being disappointment with the pace of someone’s weight loss or frustrated that they only lost .4 pounds that week.  And I get it. I’ve been there. I know it is crazy frustrating when you feel like you’ve been putting in the work and you are not seeing the results you expect.

While it is totally normal to be disappointed or frustrated the danger of having a strict timeline is you are putting yourself under undue stress over something that is not a linear process. While many would have you believe that weight loss is simply about calories in versus calories out, it is far more complex than that; and holding yourself to a linear timeline for a non-linear process will only end in frustration and disappointment.

I’ve thought about this timeline trap quite a bit, and the phenomenon of quitting a goal when your progress is not fast enough. I think a number of things come into play to create this dynamic.

  • We all want immediate outcome results, forgetting that outcomes goals require behavioral action, and that requires time.
  • We’ve been taught that weight loss is about calories in versus calories out, which sounds like an easily controlled process, when in fact it is far more complex.
  • We are spoon-fed unrealistic expectations in the media from shows like the Biggest Loser to quick fix diets promising that we can lose 10 pounds in ten days winking at us in the checkout line at the grocery story.
  • This mentality speaks to a destination view rather than a journey mindset. Especially in weight management there is no destination, it is a journey and one that changes course throughout your life. Thinking that you’ll be done when you hit your goal weight is setting yourself up for failure.
  • This thinking smacks of the ‘shoulds’, which is just a sneaky way of judging ourselves.
  • We don’t seem to appreciate that the time is going to pass anyway; you might as well continue to focus on making healthy changes in your life, even if it feels like it is taking too long.

The real disconnect is mixing expectations for achieving an outcome goal, like weight loss with the ongoing experience of a behavioral change. There is no end date for behaviors. Make your experience easier and more enjoyable stop imposing some artificial timeline on your journey.

When that little voice pops-up and says “You should be doing this faster.” Please give yourself the gift of pausing and asking “Why?”

You may also like