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Process versus Goals
Are you so goal-oriented that you overfocus on the endpoint of an activity and miss the journey that gets you there? If so, I bet you’re wildly impatient with the seemingly endless baby-stepping of going from dysregulated to regulated or “normal” eating. Staying super tuned in to the journey can make all the difference between throwing in the towel in frustration and sticking to intuitive eating all the way to recovery.
It’s an asset to be goal-oriented—you get things done, are the go-to person, receive compliments galore, and bask in the satisfaction of each new achievement. This talent is successful with work, chores, responsibilities, and for keeping on when others’ spirits flag. However, it is not the only way to get from here to there. Although it’s important to keep goals in mind—improved health, stronger energy, higher self-esteem, and more comfort around food—to become a “normal” eater, it’s equally essential to focus on the present and give over your total attention to the ongoing process of new learning.
Dysregulated eaters who excel at being goal-oriented often have difficulty with the protracted amount of time it takes to internalize eating and other life management skills. You’re so used to setting goals and working to achieve them tout suite, that you forget there’s another way of engaging with life: taking things as they come and staying in the moment to see what you know and what you need to learn. You insist on being transformed overnight (as if you could learn all the skills you need in a week or a month). When you do well in one area and not so well in another, you become impatient and lament your “setbacks.” The truth is, having a setback means you haven’t learned the skill to begin with. Learning is slow and arduous and trying to hurry up the process works against it. You’ll know you’ve learned the skill when you don’t have setbacks!
By staying with the process and doing what has proven universally effective in learning to eat “normally” you will reach your goals. Ironically, overfocusing on them is one of the ways you’re almost certain to fail to achieve them. You are in goal-oriented mentality when you ask yourselves, How come I don’t get this yet? Why am I still overeating? What’s the matter with me that I’m not succeeding? Better to say, This is a long, hard process for everyone, I’m learning as fast as I can, I’ll get there if I pay attention to what I need to learn right now, not push myself to recover faster. This is not the Olympics!
Consider the pressure you put on yourself to succeed. Then ease up, slow it down, let go of frustration and impatience, and remind yourself it’s day by day, step by baby step.