Last week at the gym, this happened:

Yup . . . I fell while trying to do a heavy lift . . . and I laughed.  When I showed the Coach the video, instead of offering some insightful commentary of why it was exactly that I missed the lift, he simply said “you laughed because you know you you can get right back up and hit that lift”.

Ok . . . so here’s where I’m going to head out on a tangent . . . but I promise, there is a point to this meandering path I’m taking here today.

There was a time, not so long ago, where missing a lift like that would have made me mad.  I would have gotten frustrated, annoyed, probably would have stomped around a bit, pretty much behaved like a petulant three year old.

Why?

Simply because missed lifts meant I wasn’t performing the way I was “supposed” to.  Missed lifts meant I wasn’t progressing.  Missed lift meant I wasn’t reaching my goals.

Right.  Goals.

So a few days ago, there was a fantastic seminar at CrossfitAIO about goal setting.  During the talk, we were encouraged to write down our goals.  Normally, I would have been able to churn out a list in about ten seconds flat . . . things I knew I could achieve, things I wanted to achieve, and things that I could maybe possible stretch to achieve.  But this time, I was stuck.  As much as I love the idea of having measurable markers of improvement, goals with any kind of deadline simply don’t fit into my world of unpredictability; when something as benign as a sick kid can keep me out of the gym for a week, what point is there in setting weekly/monthly/yearly goals?  It can only lead to frustration, annoyance, and likely disappointment.

Which brings me back to the whole concept that I talked about earlier about focusing on how you want to FEEL as opposed to what you want to get done (There is Magic in Focusing on How you Want to Feel).  When I go to the gym now, it’s because I want to work on getting stronger and feeling good.  And when I’m freed from the shackles of trying to meet specific targets in set amounts of time, I can just work on getting stronger and feeling good.  And the funny thing is . . . I’ve gotten stronger, and I feel pretty good.

And here’s where I loop back to where I started  . . . I could laugh as I fell squarely on my rear because one missed lift didn’t mean anything at all.  I was simply having fun, working on getting stronger and feeling good.

And here’s where I loop right back to “real” life . . . I have very publicly stated that this year, I want to feel JOY.  I’ve spent more than a few hours already this month just thinking about, working on, and figuring out just what allows me to get to that place of joy through my One Little Word project.  And yet, this month, I’ve really struggled with finding joy.  Put differently, when things haven’t gone as planned, when I’ve been knocked on my rear, my reaction hasn’t been to giggle . . . I’ve gotten down on myself and searched for external things to make me feel better (I won’t lie . . . I am loving my new gym wardrobe that was an offshoot of a particularly aggravating day, but I digress.).

And for one last giant loop back to where I started . . . life really isn’t that much different than the gym.  I may get knocked on my rear for any number of reasons in “real” life, but I can still get right back up again and do whatever it was that I was trying to do.  And when I focus on having fun (and finding and feeling the joy) in whatever it is that I’m doing, rather than trying to work towards some crazy self-imposed goal, life really is a lot more enjoyable.

Ok . . . and now for one last tangent.  January is a month where most of us embark on something new.  As this month draws to a close, most of us won’t have succeeded in whatever it is we were trying to do.  We can lay blame (on ourselves or on others), we can get down (on ourselves or on others), and we can quit.

OR, we can choose to try again.  For those of you that were trying this month to get to the gym more or to eat better . . . don’t give up.  Focus on how you want to feel, and what you need to do to feel that way.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and again, and again . . . it might be easy to reach for the fast food, for the “easy” answer to feeding yourself and your family. And it certainly is easy to skip going to the gym.  But is that really going to make you feel any better?