In Ask Coach Tony, you can put my Operation Melt coaching to the test by asking me questions about how to achieve your goals.
Because a question asked by one is often a question had by many, I am regularly sharing these answers via the Operation Melt blog.
Amuse-Bouche Before we jump into today's post, I offer you this "dad joke" as a light "amuse-bouche" to entertain your mind before we get serious. Like any other amuse-bouche, you may hate it, but it is worth every penny you paid for it, right? English puns make me numb. But math puns make me number.
Ask Coach Tony: My Most Important Lesson From 2022
Coach Tony: Since this is the last week of 2022, it seems like everybody is sharing their “year in review” and highlights from the year. Do you have any big lessons you learned in 2022 that you can share?
Yes! I, too, had grand plans about writing a 2022 year-in-review post with a recap of all the significant events in my life in 2022. Then I decided it wouldn’t be the best use of my time to write or yours to read. So, I decided to go a different way.
Today, I will share one big lesson I learned in 2022. This lesson summarizes most of the positive and not-so-positive events in my life… this same lesson also impacted many of my clients.
My 2022 Lesson: Nearly everything in life exists on a spectrum, and our current experiences always fall somewhere on that spectrum. By being aware of where you currently sit on that spectrum and taking needed interventions to adjust your position, you can proactively ensure your happiness.
What is a spectrum?
A spectrum is a tool that classifies things based on their position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points. For example,
The most well-known spectrum is the visible light spectrum, the portion of light or electromagnetic waves the human eye can see. That sounds super scientific, but you are likely aware of a more common mnemonic: ROY G BIV.
The light spectrum is summarized by the seven colors of a rainbow. However, there are far more than seven colors in the spectrum. There are actually millions of distinct colors nestled in between those seven.
Living on the spectrum
Like the color spectrum, life is not lived in black and white alone. It isn’t even lived exclusively within the major seven colors. Everything in life is experienced in this vast range of millions of colors across the spectrum.
There are many examples of how this plays out in “real life.” One such example is the “political spectrum” (which you are probably sick of hearing this year). There aren’t just two simple political beliefs, republican and democrat. There is a spectrum that defines these political views ranging from “far left” to centrist to “far right.”
The political spectrum example is pretty simplistic, but this isn’t a politics blog (spoiler alert?). So, please indulge me as I share a few ways that living on the spectrum applies to our goals and success.
Like most other things in life, goal-setting also exists in a spectrum.
At one end of the spectrum is where an absence of goals lives. At this end of the spectrum, you may feel lost and without purpose. You may be experiencing a high degree of unhappiness and drifting through life on autopilot.
The goalless end of the spectrum definitely is not the most productive or happiest place. But the other end of the spectrum can also be equally unpleasant.
The other extreme on the goals spectrum is a maniacal, obsessive focus exclusively on your goals. At this end of the spectrum, nothing matters in life but your goals. You may be so excessively focused on your future goal that you are living an unhappy life today. I think we can agree that this sounds counter-productive at best and pretty unhealthy.
The trick with the goals spectrum is finding a healthy, balanced spot near the middle; there is plenty of space in that area. If you start feeling yourself drift further towards either end, you can take small corrective actions to move closer to the middle.
By making minor course corrections along the way, you can stay in the healthy regions of the spectrum and can avoid the need for more aggressive interventions.
Note that I am referring only to general, basic course corrections in this post. Please seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional for more serious and complex issues.
Next, I will share a more practical, tangible example of the goals spectrum.
Dieting on the Spectrum
One goal that particularly demonstrates the spectrum concept is dieting and weight loss. Here is a hypothetical example to illustrate.
Imagine a person who simply doesn’t care about or pay attention to his health. He consumes excessively, on autopilot and has no awareness of the quantity or quality of food he is putting into his body. Exacerbating the consumption challenges, he also leads a sedentary life in a high-stress, long-hours job. He is significantly overweight, lacks self-confidence and is pretty unhappy with the situation but has resigned himself to the fact it will never change.
It sounds like this person is living his life pretty far to the goalless and unhappy end of the spectrum, right?
One day, this hypothetical person decides to make a course correction to move toward the center of the spectrum.
He sets a goal to lose a significant amount of weight in a short time. Instead of operating on autopilot, he begins tracking his food, both quantity and quality. He also starts exercising daily. He begins to rely on the data and new habits to help him get healthy.
His strategy works, and he loses weight, gets healthy, builds self-confidence, reduces stress and becomes an amateur athlete. Every step of his journey is tracked and measured, and he continually focuses on his goals and personal achievements.
Five years later, he slowly starts slipping toward the other end of the spectrum.
He is still tracking every piece of food he puts in his body, going so far as to weigh the peanut butter to get the exact number of grams consumed. He can tell you the caloric content of every food he sees. He is tracking every step he takes and every calorie he is projected to burn. He has maintained a significant calorie deficit for five years and stresses every time his body inexplicably gains a pound. Unfortunately, he keeps forgetting that bodies aren’t computers. Weight changes aren’t an exact science that can be controlled at home; there are too many variables.
These behaviors, combined with a few dangerous mindsets, have contributed to his move from the center of the spectrum. These are signs of slight disordered eating and, without course corrections, could risk the development of more serious challenges.
Realizing this shift from a healthy level of healthy living, he makes a few minor course corrections. He stops logging his food and starts trusting himself and his new habits. He stops tracking his exercise but keeps exercising. Plus, he adds planned rest days throughout the week to give his body some recovery time. Most importantly, he stops weighing himself and pursuing personal records with every run or workout. With these small changes (though they feel big to him), he moves back into the center of the healthy living spectrum.
2023 Here We Come!
This hypothetical example illustrates why I believe this is the most important lesson I learned in 2022. I will be carrying it with me into 2023 and beyond.
I firmly believe and have proven that setting and pursuing good goals can change your life and unlock new levels of happiness. But, like anything else in life, too much of a good thing can turn bad.
You can prevent this slip to the dark side by being mindful of where you are on your spectrums. This is best accomplished by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings instead of letting your brain stay on autopilot. Then, by regularly making minor course corrections, you can keep yourself in the healthy region of your spectrum.
Congrats to everyone on finishing 2022, and here’s to a healthy, happy and successful 2023.
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Meet Coach Tony
My name is Coach Tony, and I am a coach, author and project manager on a mission. I am working to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.
I almost allowed one of my biggest life goals to die without ever being attempted for forty years. My goal almost died, not of failure but of loneliness. But, I took a risk and leveraged a simple, logical process that helped me wildly exceed my goal.
I transformed my life, and you can do the same with the help of Operation Melt.
Operation Melt provides engaging, practical content and hands-on coaching to inspire, motivate and equip project managers and other left-brained high-achievers to pursue and accomplish their biggest goals.