“Fall in love with the process and the results will follow.” – Unknown

When I first heard this saying, I didn’t quite understand it. The reason I didn’t understand it was because I only had one definition and understanding of what it meant to set and achieve goals.

My understanding stemmed from years in non-profit leadership roles where we primarily focused on setting SMART goals. My guess is you know what SMART goals are but if you need a refresher, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. While this framework worked for setting performance and service goals, I found it to be particularly unhelpful when applying the same framework to my personal health goals.

I have since realized that SMART goals are not the only way to set goals – much like there can be many ways to get from A to B.

Hear me out…

Anyone can set a goal to run a half-marathon or lose 20 pounds and set corresponding measures that are specific, attainable, and time bound. But, those measures can quickly become arbitrary when life throws you a curveball.

And, once that first curveball throws you off track – the next comes even faster and harder – and before we know it, we feel like a failure, and we lose focus and desire for the goal we set out to achieve.

If this hasn’t been your experience – then I envy you.

Personally, it was mine for many years, until I shifted my focus away from the actual goal result and instead focused on who I needed to become and what I needed to do differently along the way to achieving my goals and dreams.

It was in this process that I realized I had to unlearn many previous held beliefs about what it meant to be successful. Beliefs like “I’m just not motivated.” And “If I can’t do it perfectly on the first try, why bother trying again?” Or “The cards just aren’t stacked in my favor.” Or my favorite, “I’ll focus on me when life isn’t so hectic.”

Somewhere along the way I let these thoughts become huge barriers to my belief, confidence, and commitment. That was, until I thought a different belief.

And, that thought was – “What if I could fall in love with the process of becoming someone who accomplishes what they set out to achieve?”

This thought opened my mind to new beliefs and allowed me to dig into what it would take to become someone who is willing to learn and adopt new habits and create new routines, regardless of how long it might take to achieve the specific goal.

I’ll share an example of how this worked for me around a specific health goal.

For many years I set a goal to lose 50 pounds by my birthday. Each birthday would come and go, and I still found myself 50 pounds from my goal. And, with each passing year, the weight of feeling like a failure climbed even higher.

Then a couple years ago, I decided to scrap the goal of losing 50 pounds by my birthday and instead, focused on why that was important and what about it was so meaningful. That helped me shift my focus from seeing a number on the scale to what it would mean to feel healthy and be within a healthy weight range for the first time in my life. That’s when I made the shift to focusing my goal to be “Fit for Life”.

Choosing “Fit for Life” as a goal helped me start to see more concretely what I needed to do to create and embody a fit lifestyle. “Fit for Life” also helped me lessen the attachment of a specific due date and instead allowed me flexibility to see my health as a journey – with twists and turns along the way.

These shifts allowed me to find joy in the journey of becoming someone who sets out to develop discipline and consistency without the pressure of perfectionism. These shifts also allowed me to learn that falling down is part of the process but what matters most is that the times we get up outnumber the times we fall down.

What was most surprising in all of this was as I made this shift and began implementing the actions that aligned with being “Fit for Life”, I found myself reaching the goal I tried to achieve for so many years before!

This is what finally helped me to understand what it means to “fall in love with the process and the results will follow.”

If you are struggling with hitting a goal that you’ve worked years to achieve, I offer this as a suggestion. Loosen your attachment to the goal being a SMART goal and instead, look for a deeper meaning for why that goal is important. Making a subtle shift like this and then starting to take small steps each day might get you closer to your goal than you ever imagined was possible.

Your friend and coach,