September 22, 2019

What makes us follow through with our goals? (and 10 of my goals for fall)

"She believed she could, so she did" bracelet

(The bracelet was given to me by a reader several years ago--I love it!)

On this post, I am going to list some goals for fall 2019.

I'm sure you're rolling your eyes just as hard as I am, regarding the idea of my writing goals for fall when I haven't really met many of goals I've set in the past couple of years, haha. However, even though I am not great at following through with my goals, I usually end up having one or two of them "stick"--which is better than nothing.

Quitting drinking alcohol, for example...

That was one of my New Year's Resolutions (cliché of all clichés) this year. My goal was to give up alcohol for a year starting on January 1st, 2019. I had my last drink just before midnight on December 31st, 2018.

I cannot tell you how many times I said I was going to quit drinking over the years--for a week, a month, a year, forever--it was always one of those things that I said I'd try and then I'd give up shortly after. For some reason, however, this time it stuck. It's been 264 days, and I have no doubt that I'll make it to December 31st. It's NOT easy, but with the streak I have going, I really don't want to mess it up now.

Another example is weight loss...

I have almost made umpteen attempts to lose weight in my life before I was *finally* able to drop 125 pounds between August 2009 and November 2010. I made weight loss goals more times than you can count, and they never stuck. Until one time, it did! That day, August 19, 2009, I had no idea that it would be the last day that I would weight 253 pounds. I had tried so many times and quit that I just expected it to be another tally mark of failed attempts.

Here is the 125-pound difference way back in 2010 (look how young I looked!):

In June 2017, I prepared a budget to pay off my family's credit card debt. It felt like the trillionth time I had written a budget. I don't know if I ever even got through a single month without giving up. Yet, 14 months after making that get-out-of-debt goal in 2017, I made my final credit card payment. It's been over a year, and we are still debt-free.

Running is yet another example of goals that sometimes sticks but sometimes fails...

I attempted the Couch to 5K plan several times and gave up on it. I thought being a runner sounded so exciting, and I wanted to be one; but I didn't want to put in the work. It was too hard! However, in 2011, I made (yet another) goal to run a 5K. Since Couch to 5K was too hard, I tried my own way that I liked better. And after just a couple of months, I was running over three miles at a time. It'd stuck--I actually followed through and became a runner.

There are SO MANY examples of goals or short challenges that I've made and then not followed through on: giving up sugar, eating vegan, going to bed at a certain time every day, eating only whole foods, read a particular number of books, etc.

So what is it that makes us follow through with our goals sometimes and not others? I can theoretically set the same goal 100 times and only make it work ONCE. What was different about that one time? I think it has a lot of variables: timing, mindset, support from others, mental health, external stressors, physical heath, motivation, determination, sacrifices, money, and about a thousand others. If those stars (variables) align just right, the new habit may stick. Otherwise, it may not be the in the cards that time; so we try again later.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who sets goals and only manages to follow through once in a while; I'm just the one who writes about it online and then has to admit when I quit ;)

Anyway, the whole point of this is that just because I've failed at (certainly the majority) of the goals I've set doesn't keep me from wanting to set goals for all sorts of occasions: the new year, the first of the month, my birthday, summer... hell, even just a random MONDAY.

Even if I don't reach 90% of the goals I make for myself, that still means that I accomplish 10% of them. And 10% of them is certainly better than none. Or just giving up hope altogether.

I think the reason I like goal setting so much is that it fills me with hope. Having hope is a reason to live, and without it, it's easy to give up on everything. So, I continue to set goals (whether I publicize them or not) and I have hope that I will accomplish them. I might do so, but if not, then I'll probably just try again.

I wrote recently about my summer goals and the results--how well I did working on those. (Spoiler, if you missed it: Not very well. But not a total failure, either!)

So, with tomorrow being the first day of fall, my very FAVORITE season here in Michigan, I'm going to set some fresh new goals. Fall starts on September 23rd and ends on December 22nd. That's three months. I think three months is such a great amount of time to make some changes and create new habits. So, I'd like to focus on forming some new habits.

I'll write them here and do my best. Then, at the end of the season, we'll check to see if any of them actually stuck ;)

Goals for Fall 2019:

1) Get my weight down under 145. That's roughly 20 pounds, which is do-able for three months' time. I will do this with portion control and an eating schedule (8:00, 12:00, 4:00, and 8:00, like I used to). If I start to see some progress, I'd like to start doing Wednesday Weigh-Ins again.

2) Get back in the nightly routine with the family to go for a walk in the evenings, then watch a show and have a bedtime snack together. I loved this routine!

3) Drink 64 ounces of water a day. Period. Ice does not count.

4) Run for 3 miles every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I will do heart rate (MAF) training because I enjoy it more.

5) Read 15 minutes every day.

6) Take a multivitamin.

7) Write in my journal and read a chapter of the Bible before bed (I've been doing this for several weeks now and I want to continue)

8) Cook dinner at least six nights a week (it doesn't have to be anything fancy--even just spaghetti with jarred marinara counts).

9) This is kind of generic, but I'd like to make decisions that are best for me: both mentally and physically. It's hard to give examples of this now, but I'll try and write things down throughout the next few months to specify what I mean by it.

10) Write a blog post four times a week. Ideally, I will form this into a schedule, but I will have to work on figuring out what days are best. For now, I'm just going to aim for four days a week.

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And there they are. Nothing new--I think I've attempted these habits about six trillion times since I started Runs for Cookies! But maybe this will be the time that sticks... you never know ;)


  1. I loved this post. Thank you!

  2. We are trying to cook a lot more too. We both work full time and have 3 kids under 5, so we get takeout at least a couple times a week. We're doing better with dinners but we have a lot of room to improve on bringing lunches to work.

  3. I need to make a list of goals too. One of my goals should be to make the list!

  4. Thanks! Love your perspective on what makes goals work.


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