Sometimes goals can be daunting. Either because the end result seems so far out of reach, because we have no clear path to get to where we want to go, or we do not feel we have the resources to get there. Maybe we just lack time to properly think about our goals and how to achieve them. Goals are meant to be a stretch. If every goal was easy, life would be boring. Similar to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, with proper training, preparation, and an internal drive, you can absolutely summit your mountain.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is all about focusing on solutions and positive strengths. Problems exist. SFBT is not the absence of problems but is the focus on what works. Similar to getting to your goal: focus on what works, build on your strengths and existing resources, keep assessing where you are at toward achieving your goal, and keep figuring out what you need to do to continually move forward. Step by step. Poli poli, which in Swahili means slowly slowly. Going poli poli is sometimes the only way to get to the summit. Do not let the pace of achieving your goal discourage you.
For example, I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. Labeling myself “big-boned” always seemed to be an acceptable excuse for why I was not where I wanted to be physically. As a two-time Ironman triathlon finisher, I know I am an athlete capable of surmounting intense physical challenges, but I have not always felt like I look like the athlete that I am. I greatly dislike that part of me. I want to wear shorts and jeans and not worry about my tummy rolling over the top of my pants. I want to wear dresses in the summer without the constant fear of inner-thigh chaffing. I want to be free of my addiction to food that does not heal and sustain me. This goal has always felt a little like climbing a giant mountain, maybe more like Everest instead of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I have had some past success with weight loss, so I know I can be successful, but currently, I am not succeeding. My hope is to use what I have learned about Solution-Focused Therapy to apply the principles to my own journey.
Goal #1: Become the athlete that I am, both inside and out, which means eating healthier, losing weight, and exercising more.
Step 1: get clarity on my goals and my resources…
Goal Assessment Questionnaire:
1.) What goal would you most like to achieve right now?
I want to be healthier. I recently lost 20 pounds on a food study, which provided all my meals. The study eliminated my choices so I was forced to eat healthy. I felt good and enjoyed the food, but after being out of the study for five months, I have slowly gained about 9 pounds back. Including the 9 pounds, I have about 37-42 pounds to lose to be at a healthy weight for my height. I also know that losing weight helps me to run faster. A long-time goal of mine has been to consistently run a 10 minute mile pace for a long-distance run, like a half marathon. Losing 10 pounds correlates with a minute-per-mile loss on my pace when I run. For example, when I was 160, I was closer to a 10 minute mile. At 170, I ran about an 11 minute mile. Edging toward the 180s, I am at about a 12 minute mile now, and last summer when I was in the 190s, I ran a 13 minute mile. I also want to feel good in shorts and a tank top. Boston summers can be hot and humid, so wearing less clothing is essential. I want to feel good wearing less.
2.) On a scale of 1-10, where 10 means you have achieved the above goal and 1 is no progress has been made toward achieving your goal, where would you rate yourself right now?
I think I am at a 3 or a 4 toward achieving my goal. For the sake of the scale, I will lay claim to a 3.
3.) What qualities and knowledge do you currently possess that will help you achieve your goal? Please list all that apply:
I have succeeded in losing weight before. I know what foods are good for me and what foods are bad for me. I am an online member of Weight Watchers, which has worked for me in the past. I love to exercise and know how to set up a fitness plan that includes both weight lifting and cardio. I just received training on Solution-Focused therapy. I have skills that I just need to apply.
4.) What qualities will you need to gain or learn in order to achieve your goal? Please list all that apply:
I need to learn more about my triggers. Why do I want to eat certain bad foods? Why do I feel compelled to over-eat? Why don’t I follow through on what works and say no to myself when I’ve reached my point limits on Weight Watchers? What do I gain emotionally from eating unhealthy foods and filling my belly to over-capacity?
5.) What would need to happen to raise your current rating on the scale above by one point?
I would need to start planning my meals again and be more aware of my food choices. Maybe asking myself if I really want the food I am about to eat would be helpful too. Maybe also slowing down when I eat by taking time to chew and savor each bite so I allow my body time to let me know I am full.
6.) Who are the most important people in your life who can help you achieve your goal?
My sister, my partner, my friends, my family, my coworkers, my therapist, the Connect Community on Weight Watchers.
7.) How can each person mentioned in question 6 help you achieve your goal? Please describe how each person can help you individually:
My sister: we live together and she has been helpful in getting me to exercise. She can also encourage me to make better choices.
My partner: when we schedule time to workout in the morning, I actually get up and get to the gym, which helps set my day on the right path with eating and managing my food choices.
My family: my grandpa is very active and encourages me to get moving; my dad could help send my bikes to me so I can start training for local triathlons again.
My friends: some of my friends have already been successful in losing weight and others are on their own weight loss journey, we could be more supportive of each other and encourage each other by checking in and sharing what works.
My coworkers: they can be supportive of me walking on my lunch break or exercising after work. Also, I could find other coworkers to walk with (accountability always works for me).
Therapist: this blog is actually something she encouraged me to do. By publicly writing about my goal and being my first “client,” I can hopefully grow and continue to develop my skills as a counselor.
Weight Watchers Connect Community: Connect is basically a social media tool for those losing weight. The success stories and encouragement are incredibly helpful to me. There is also accountability in sharing my goals publicly. Connect allows me to post pictures, share blurbs about my journey and learn tips from those succeeding in losing weight.
8.) Are there any other resources that you will need to help achieve your goal, if so, please list them below:
Follow through. I have set goals before and have stopped working toward them. I will keep moving forward even when I have minor missteps or failures. Obstacles are just opportunities to persevere.
If you want to join me in some Solution-Focused work, please answer the above questions and email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you are feeling particularly brave, write your goal in the comments. If you email me, I will check in with you about your goal (sometimes accountability is all we need).