‘I Can’t Lose Weight No Matter What’
So, you set a goal (yay!); you took steps to achieving that goal (yay!) and then you ‘failed’ (boo!).
What now? Your options are 1) immediately quit trying, it’s hopeless 2) identify what went wrong before you do anything else.
Clearly, option number 1 is not viable; it will send you into a downward spiral that will negatively affect all plans and goals you set for yourself in the future.
Instead, take a deep breath and smile. Get some perspective. We all have goals, and each of us has seen goals that are not met as expected. In fact, things most likely won’t go exactly as planned. They rarely do – and that’s not a bad thing. So even if you plan well in advance, it is possible that something – or everything – will go wrong. Does that mean your plans are ruined? What can you do when something like this happens?
Identify in yourself the factors at play – what helps you and what hurts you:
- Motivation and Discipline
Motivation is essential to maintaining a goal and taking the steps to achieve it. However, its importance pales next to discipline. Because sooner or later you are going to feel exhausted and without strength, and that is when discipline will help you keep your goal in sight.Ask yourself if you are clear about your motivation, but especially if you have to work more on your discipline. See here for tips.
- Motivation and Discipline
- Frustration Tolerance
This is a key aspect to achieving a goal, since there will always be mistakes, lapses, and obstacles. Assess how good your tolerance for frustration is. Do you give up after a few tries? Are you able to follow a clear course of action despite the drawbacks?Of course, tolerance for frustration is one thing, and stupidity is quite another! It is important to differentiate between the two and to distinguish when you are hitting the glass like a fly and when it is right to stick to your goals and try again.
- Frustration Tolerance
- Previous Experience
Don’t expect excellence without prior experience. If it’s your first time on a new course of action, don’t despair if it doesn’t work out initially. We have innate abilities and inclinations, but these do not cover all aspects of life. We also have pre-existing biologies – if your goal is weight loss, for example, your path will differ markedly from that of your neighbor. If your goal is to start a new company, you might have to make many attempts.Even when your circumstances are challenging, you can reverse the course of your losing streak if you take into account these recommendations:
- Previous Experience
1. Breathe and Relax
Taking things slowly is essential. The impact of seeing a goal missed or failing miserably can be devastating. But you have to take it easy. So take a deep breath and find ways to calm yourself.
A 2020 study published in the journal Brain and Behavior showing that anxiety and a low tolerance for uncertainty can affect our ability to solve problems in a social setting. In other words, when you make decisions driven by anxiety, your ability to solve problems will be reduced. So don’t rush.
Many times we despair of achieving that goal after failing and end up even worse.
For example, if you open a business and it doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped, you might be tempted to take desperate measures to start it up and make your money.
If you tried to lose 30 pounds and lost 3, you might head straight for the ice cream locker.
But hasty decisions almost always end badly.
2. Don’t Make Fear-based Decisions
Fear can be a good counselor when you are in imminent danger, much less so when you have to use your head.
When you make decisions based on fear, your survival instinct is the one that is acting for you and does not allow you to think clearly. However, fear is in these cases difficult to control.
3. Take a Break
If possible, get away as much as possible for a moment from everything that has to do with or reminds you of that unfulfilled goal.
Give yourself time, a few days or a week. The idea is that when you come back you can see things in perspective, with a fresh mind. You will also avoid making decisions out of fear or despair.
4. Ask for Help
The help of others is essential, even if they only hear us speak. Many of us try to be proactive and independent, but in the process we may put aside the intervention and help of someone who can make a difference.
When looking for help, try to find someone who really cares about what you’re going through. It can be a very dear family member or friend. It could also be a partner or someone who understands the problem you are going through. Many times, just talking helps you collect your thoughts and find the best solutions.
In a study on social support published in the American Journal of Community Psychology, it was shown that when you feel that someone supports you, solving problems becomes easier.
Even if that person is not providing direct solutions to your problems, his or her presence and support help you move on.
Dare to get out of the bubble!
5. Set Challenging But Realistic Goals
Many times we mistake dreams for goals, and that can be a constant cause of frustration. This generally occurs when we do not have a clear path to the goal or when we rush and want to achieve it in the very short term or in an unrealistic time frame. Losing 80 pounds in 1 month is neither realistic nor healthy. Increasing your income tenfold in 6 months would likely entail shortcuts that may yield the opposite result.
So ask yourself if your short-term goal is actually short-term or should it be extended to the medium and even the long term? Don’t rush. Allow yourself to live and enjoy each stage of your goal.
There is the so-called ‘false hope syndrome’. According to a review published in the International Journal of Obesity, it is based on having an unrealistic goal-setting and results in worsening self-esteem and mood of those who do not succeed.
If you are in that spiral, detect it and do something to change it. Recognizing the problem in the first place is critical.
6. Plan: Passion and Perseverance
Once you have a fresh head and have talked to someone about it, find a new course of action.
Most truly worthwhile goals require not one or two but many attempts. Try to think in a different way. Look for variables or alternate paths and do not hesitate to leave your comfort zone.
All of this means perseverance.
In addition to perseverance, you need another key ingredient, and that is passion. So, fall in love with that goal over and over again, revisit it, and remember how it makes you feel.
According to a meta-analysis led by the National Academy of Sciences, determination has two ingredients: perseverance and passion. According to the study, individuals who are only persistent do not perform statistically better than the rest. In fact, they feel that their work is heavy and they are more susceptible to burnout. But when you add the other ingredient, passion, that’s when perseverance pays off and improves your results.
So, remember: perseverance AND passion are key to helping you achieve your goals.
7. Prepare For Unforeseen Events
No plan is infallible and many times it does not depend on what we do but on our environment.
Instead of struggling with your situation / environment, instead of complaining about how people are or how they behave, try to see the good in everything and take advantage of it.
Learn to smile at the unexpected. Cultivating a good attitude is always constructive.
If you deprived yourself for 3 months on Diet X, for example, and it simply didn’t work, remember there could be many reasons, including your own biological makeup and dispositions. I once again recommend you read this.
I planned for semi-retirement in my twenties. All the legal paperwork had been filed and I only had to wait for the company that had bought our firm to go public in 3 months. Two months later the market crashed. The point is, sometimes it’s not you. Life gets in the way 😄
8. Be S.M.A.R.T.
This is a helpful mnemonic from the project management world that helps us set an objective that we can actually follow through on.
- Specific: 20 pounds or 25?
- Measurable: for weight loss this is simple: track it over time
- Achievable: consider your situation and your past performance
- Relevant: does this goal align with your life objectives?
- Time-Bound: it may be easier to break this into milestones. A 3 month goal or a 6 month goal will be easier to track than a 5 year goal.
9. Write it Down
Create a worksheet and checklist. Ask yourself the following:
- Why is this goal important to me? How will I know I succeeded and how will I feel?
- What are the challenges or problems that might arise? How might I overcome them?
- What specific actions will help me achieve this goal?
Seeing it all on paper helps with clarity, finalizing the details and even determining if the goal is worth shooting for at the end of the day.
As you continue with this process over and over again, you will raise your self-confidence as well.
The rule of life around here, to be applied to any activity, is to have a sense of humor about it. Lightness, empathy, gratitude and mindfulness will steer you a long way. See here.
Smile, don’t spiral 😄