Recently, while at work I was walking the long way around the building to go get my morning tea — a habit I had created to try and reach my daily steps goal. While walking, I remembered that I wasn’t wearing my activity tracker, I had left it at home after charging it that morning. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Why am I walking this way when I’m not getting any steps?” For a moment I was genuinely annoyed that I was wasting my time walking around for no reason.
It took me a minute to realize how totally ridiculous this line of thinking was. I had purchased the activity tracker to help encourage myself to take more steps throughout the day. My goal was not only to take more total steps, but also to get up and move regularly throughout the day so that my back didn’t tighten up from sitting at my desk for hours on end without a break. Over the months of using an activity tracker these habits had been created, but somewhere along the way I forgot what my actual goal was. Getting 10,000 steps on my tracker became the goal rather than taking more steps throughout the day. Though the two goals merged well together most days, my shift in focus had shifted my motivation so that when I wasn’t wearing my tracker, the motivation to move wasn’t there.
I wonder how often we do this in other areas of our lives. How often do our short-term goals replace our long-term goals? Do we settle for something that is easier, something that doesn’t stretch us or force us to grow? When I first bought my tracker it motivated me to make a practical change to my daily routine, but once those changes were ingrained as habits, I was no longer growing, I was no longer bettering myself, and my original motivation slipped into memory. Short goals are an important, and often necessary, part of meeting our larger goals because they give us “quick wins.” Achieving the smaller goals should help us stay motivated to continue pursuing the larger goal, but when we become satisfied with achieving less we enter a dangerous zone of apathy. We need to be intentional to re-assess our lives and continue to push for those larger things we are trying to reach. Where have you settled for less than your original goal?