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Are Your Goals Too Small?

By Jean Antonello, RN, BSN, obesity and eating disorders specialist and author of The Great Big Diet Lie, How to Become Naturally Thin® by Eating More, Breaking Out of Food Jail and Naturally Thin® Kids, www.naturally-thin.com

One extremely subtle kickback from dieting involves goals. Many people are uncomfortable with goal-setting. Goals are risky. They always involve potential failure.

But goals are about who we are and what we believe in—our priorities. So there is something in us that keeps inspiring us to change, to reach out, to explore, to do more with our lives. Call it creativity, call it desire for growth, call it human nature. But whatever you call it, goals create a problem: setting them creates a certain kind of stress for us: No goals; no risk. The conflict between our avoidant natures and our need to grow influences whether we even set goals and why we set them if we do.

Here’s the interesting twist. Because of our desire to improve ourselves, plus our tendency to avoid change, which is a type of pain, we make superficial, petty goals instead of substantial, grand goals. If we are consumed with mundane concerns and activities, we stay focused on goals that keep our view narrow instead of broad, goals that do not challenge the real depth of our human potential. We avoid great goals because deep down we are afraid, and there are plenty of non-threatening things to do to help us feel as if we’re getting somewhere, like dieting.

This process is usually insidious and unconscious, but obsessive food-intake management often interferes with personal development. Individuals who are otherwise ambitious, creative souls can easily become engrossed in meticulous dietary restrictions and weight-loss goals to the exclusion of other more valuable endeavors. This is a tragedy. The waste of human potential can hardly be estimated, especially among women.

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