I’m a big “follow your dreams” and “set goals for yourself” sort of person.  I’ve always been this way.  Growing up those goals were things like getting straight As, graduating near the top of my class, making first chair in band, and so on.  Once I went to college, the academic goals stuck around, and then it was all about getting a teaching job.

And my dreams?  Well, obviously I’ve always dreamed of being a published author.  I sort of had this dream come true; when I finished my first graduate program, I co-wrote an article with my thesis advisor that was published in the periodical Social Studies and the Young Learner.  But that’s not what I’d always dreamed of.  Academia is interesting, but it’s not where my literary passion lies.

And I had the usual “princess” type dream of meeting a wonderful man, getting married, setting up house, and starting a family.

Happily, three of those four “goals” have come true.  We’re still working on that last one.

But that’s not really goal-setting.  That’s dreaming, and sometimes dreaming big.  But why can’t our dreams become our goals?

Goal-setting and motivation sort of go hand in hand.  If you have this wild abstract “thing” you want to accomplish, that’s all well and good.  And you might be raring to go.  But without setting some realistic goals for your dream and figuring out a game plan to achieve those goals, you’re sort of sitting in a big puddle of sticky mud.

Why am I rambling about goal-setting?  Well, about three years ago, my sister introduced me to Chalene Johnson.  Okay, not Chalene Johnson personally. But she made me aware of her fitness videos.  This came about because I got engaged (Princess Dream #1 and 2 are go) and I wanted to look awesome in my wedding dress.  Yes, a little shallow.  But if that was the extent of my bridezilla moments, then go me.  I’ve never been what you’d call “big” but even 5 pounds of weight gain on me makes a huge difference.  And to be fair, I’d known for a long time that my generally sedentary lifestyle was not going to be viable within a few years.  In 1999 when I graduated high school, I was 5’3″ and weighed 122 pounds.  When I graduated college, I was 5’4″ (no idea where that new inch came from) and 132 pounds.  I’d gained 10 pounds during college. And I could look at my family health history (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, obesity) and tell myself I had to get on the health and fitness horse now before I was stuck trying to play catch up.

But I hated exercise.  I hated the thought of exercise.  I had never exercised, not really, outside of gym class and marching band (which IS a sport, don’t let anybody steer you differently).  Throughout college, grad school, and my initial years working in my district as a teaching assistant, I’d dabbled in Tae Bo and yoga and a membership at the college fitness center and a YMCA membership and even a hip hop dance class. None of it stuck, because I really didn’t like doing any of it.  And I don’t like working out in front of people.

Well, about three months after I got engaged, I discovered that a local dance studio offered adult fitness classes on Saturday mornings.  My hubby-to-be, who has always been into exercise and sports, encouraged me to give it a try.  It was a Turbo Kick class, and it was a little on the expensive side.  But the instructor was really fun and after only four weeks I was hooked and was already finding that the legs of my pants weren’t quite so tight.  But I didn’t really like the idea of shelling out $40 a month for four one-hour classes.  So my sister introduced me to Chalene and her TurboJam videos (the home version of the Turbo Kick classes I’d been taking).

I was very dedicated.  I went home from work every day and did my scheduled workouts.  I only skipped if I was sick or during that one week when my shoulder was bothering me (turns out I have rotator cuff tendinitis).  A month before my wedding, I was down to 128 pounds and had lost so many inches that my wedding dress had to be taken in.  And then a couple weeks before my wedding, my mother had to move the fasteners on my dress in by an inch. And on my wedding day, my mom and sister had to pull the lacing as tight as it would go.  And I was still hiking up my strapless dress all day long.

Well, then I settled into married life in our new home (Princess Dream #3), and gained 10 pounds in my first year of marriage.  I still did workouts, just in fits and starts and I never could seem to keep it up for more than a couple months at a time.  The fact is I got lazy because my goal of looking good for my wedding had been met.  And I wasn’t being serious about setting a new one.

You see, I thought goal-setting was about an end result.  And in part, that’s true.  You should have a BIG GOAL that you’re working toward, but there are lots of little goals along the way.  And with something like health and fitness, it’s about a lifestyle change.

I recently signed on to Chalene Johnson’s Push Jump Start program (which goes along with her book which is coming out in a couple more weeks), which is all about setting goals and sticking to them to change your life.   And you don’t just set a health and fitness goal – you set a “push” goal, which is a goal for something you want to accomplish in your life.

My health and fitness goal was pretty easy to determine.  I’m still gaining weight.  I’m battling rotator cuff tendinitis in both shoulders. Plus I’ve been really holding back in my workouts due to concerns with Princess Dream #4.  And frankly, I’ve been kind of on the sad side of things for the past four months or so.  I’m frustrated that I’m still waiting to start a family with my husband, especially after a terrible disappointment.  When I look in the mirror, I hate what I see as much as I hate that number on the scale.  I do not like putting on my pants and discovering “muffin top.” I’ve never been a stick, but what’s looking at me from the mirror isn’t me either.  So my health and fitness goal is about better eating and sticking to an exercise program.  I don’t hate working out anymore – I hate the thought of it, until I do it, then I feel awesome and accomplished and really, really sweaty.

But what about my Push goal, the thing I want to accomplish?  Well, my list of things I’d love to do with my life could go on forever. But the number one thing right now is finishing my novel and getting it published (or at least into the hands of a literary agent whose willing to fight for its publication).  So that’s my life goal right now.

My deadline is taking a beating, though. I’m about three and a half chapters away from “The End” but between the holidays, work, and being sick with bronchitis (yay for me, found that out on Monday) I’m having a hard time getting too many big sections done at the moment.  I’m hoping to be finished in the next couple weeks so I can take a breather around the holidays.  Then in January I can pick up the next step in achieving my goal – editing, polishing, and getting some very willing friends to do beta reads for me.

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