Happy Thanksgiving! // Hard goals and soft goals

Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving!  I trust you all have a safe, happy, and primal Holiday 🙂

This post isn’t Thanksgiving related at all…maybe it will be next year.

Anyway, I wanted to tee off of a recent post by Chuck Grimmett, where he talked about hard rules and soft rules.  First, implementing hard rules is huge for making and keeping the transition to primal.  Even yesterday I was at a point where I would eat anything (no matter what the ingredients list says!).  Thankfully, I didn’t have anything neolithic in my apartment so all I could do was eat real food!

In the same vein as Chuck I’d like to suggest considering your goals in terms of being hard or soft – as opposed to one specific point.  There’s probably better terms than “hard” and “soft” but you’ll see what I mean.

Say you have a goal to run a 2 hour half marathon at the end of 15 weeks.  Basically, come that time, you will either make your goal or you won’t. Pass or fail.  It’s very specific.  I encourage you to take a more dynamic approach to goals, especially relating to the primal lifestyle and diet (that said, someone like Robb Wolf would very much encourage a hard goal only).  Lets take the same example.  Instead of one specific goal or point of pass/fail, give yourself a range.  That way, whether you “pass” or “fail”  you have some measure of how successful it actually was.  An 80% is much different than a 99% on a test, though both are “passing”!

So you could say my goal is to get between 1:45 and 2:15 at a half marathon 15 weeks from now.  At 1:45, that’s just doggone superb.   You not only landed within your range but at the top of it!  At 2:10, well, not the best, but you still hit within your range, no reason to leave thinking yourself a failure.

This reminds of the 80/20 principle – Try to get right on 80% of the time and if you need to slip up 20% of the time, that’s ok. No reason to beat yourself up just because you couldn’t keep a squeaky clean, perfect record.

Mark Sisson has written about the 80/20 principle here, and here.

The central point of the 80/20 Principle is this: if you’re eating fully Primal 80% of the time, the other 20% offers room for well-intentioned but practical choices when we can’t be Primal or choose not to be for a variety of personal reasons. Maybe it’s the limited options for an impromptu business lunch. Maybe it’s a family get-together. Whatever the context, our Primal lenses learn to seek out the most Primal option….

Consider the 80/20 Principle a guide that accentuates the truly plausible and healthy intersection of the PB with everyday real life. Internalize it in your own way to bring perspective to your overall Primal lifestyle – to not lose the forest through the trees. (Let’s just say it comes in handy when your grandmother says she’d be heartbroken if you didn’t try her freshly made apple butter.) After all, the PB isn’t a form of asceticism. Nor is it some dictatorial dogma that imbues guilt and shame for the smallest dietary transgression.

Setting goals as a range can be applied to anything – bedtime, pushups, sales/month, healthy eating, reading etc. This will keep you from walking away from a project ignorant of how well or poorly it was done.  So, the next time you’re setting a goal ask yourself, “What does excellent look like?” and, “What does good look like?”  If you didn’t hit excellent, maybe you still exceeded “good”.  The undertone here is that striving for perfectionism is no good.  “But I will be producing good work!”  Maybe, not necessarily.  What you will be producing is a lot of inner frustration since perfect is never reached.  I hope this provides some good insight we go into the holiday season thinking about end of year budgets and new years resolutions.

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About Staffaction

If I ever write a memoirs it will be called "From Podunk to Poland to Pakistan"...so says a good friend of mine anyway. I'm from a small town in Michigan and enjoy world travel. I'm a Christian, advocate for liberty, enjoy real food, and barefoot runs. I studied economics and now work full time for a missions organization as a link between US churches and overseas schools and churches, serving indigenous pastors by discipling and teaching them so they can teach others.
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2 Responses to Happy Thanksgiving! // Hard goals and soft goals

  1. Bob Ewing says:

    Interesting suggestion Ben. I hadn’t thought of this before. My initial impression is that this is ideal for an area that is new to you, or an area that you are currently performing poorly. For example, I’m bad at sleep but good at exercise. I have very specific exercise goals and I don’t think I’d like to have a range for them, but rather I want to meet my specific targets. (i.e., break a 5 minute mile in 2012.) But I’m quite bad at sleep. Setting up a targeted range for sleeping goals sounds like a great idea for me, actually. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Staffaction says:

    Yep, so you could maybe say Excellent is a 4:45 mile, and good is getting between 4:45 and 5:00. Still keeps your primary benchmark and now you have predefined measures of how well you did. I think the important point is that it’s good to realize what kind of pass/fail we were. Goal is 4:59, but what if you get a 5:01? The last thing you want to is to beat yourself up over a job well done even if a sweet goal wasn’t meant…conversely, you don’t want to failures simply because thought wasn’t given beforehand to what fail/good/excellent should look like.

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