How to Lock Down Your Own Goals in the Face of Endless Responsibilities

How to Lock Down Your Own Goals in the Face of Endless Responsibilities

I’ve shared before that I joined a group coaching site, a few weeks ago. A common misconception that I get from people who know I write about balanced living is that I must have everything figured out. I have been called ‘perfect’ before but I am very much a work in a progress, hence why I joined the coaching platform.

On the site, I am working towards many goals, particularly related to self-care, such as journaling and reading more frequently, as well as exercising at least three times a week. When I joined the site, I received a bunch of freebies in the welcome email, so I decided to use one of them and try out their VIP coaching experience.

In VIP coaching, you essentially work through a module for four weeks related to a particular topic. I happened to join right as the module for eliminating ‘bad’ habits started. There are many different areas where my habits are not exactly where I would like them to be, but I decided to focus on my habit of grabbing fast-food meals at the end of the workday.

I’ve written before that after long days in the lab, I am usually famished, and it’s as if I’m on autopilot, wanting to eat the nearest thing available to me. Since I do have a 25–30 minute commute every day, sometimes it really feels like I can’t wait to get home to grab something to eat, so I stop off somewhere that serves too much sugar and salt with every meal.

Due to the nature of my health the last few weeks, fast-food has really been the furthest thing from my mind. The bright side of my situation is that following through on the exercises in the module on on habit elimination has required much less willpower on my part than normal. I don’t have much of an appetite, so I’m not even thinking about my ‘bad’ habit.

I started wondering though how much different would the situation be if I were feeling like my normal self. Would the exercises help? Is my brain hardwired at this point to crave salty and sugary foods? I pushed myself to go a little deeper and realized that one of my triggers is coming home to an empty house a lot of the time. With my husband’s irregular work schedule, an entire week can go by where I am only really thinking about feeding myself in the evenings. And feeding me is a different beast entirely than my normal approach to food.

When my family is together in the evenings, I am very diligent about preparing overall healthy meals. While my husband is a bit more lax in this department (he likes to make gravy with a lot of his dishes), we still eat fairly healthy overall. It’s very important to me at a family level for us to eat healthy foods, yet when it comes to my eating habits, especially when I’m alone, all reason goes out the window.

My expectations for myself and how food relates to my health are much lower than the ones I place on my family as a whole. For some reason it is much easier to envision my family in the future, and their well-being than to picture myself as an individual in a similar situation. I yield to the desires or wants of my present self, especially after a long day at work, instead of focusing on making the types of choices, particularly when it comes to eating out, which are going to yield long-term positive benefits. I’m not alone.

Future self-continuity, the name for this phenomenon is the same type of thinking that leads smart people to fail to save enough for retirement. Our future selves seem so nebulous at times, and besides isn’t there always time to change into who we really want to become?

While it can feel self-defeating to try and stem the tide of evolution, I really do believe that it is worthwhile to continue trying to become the best possible version of you, especially if others depend on you. There is a part of me that doesn’t think twice about gobbling down a burger and fries for dinner, but because I would like and need to be around as long possible for my family, I will continue to make the effort regardless of how many times I feel like throwing in the towel. For now, I’m going to celebrate nearly a month free of fast-food dinners, and look forward to many delicious home-cooked meals, extra gravy please.

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