A few years ago, I was playing around with my food intake because I was getting migraines more frequently than I cared for (because getting migraines at all is pleasant?). My migraines started when I was 12, at my aunt and uncle’s wedding reception. I remember not feeling well so I walked home. On the way home, I had a visual aura and felt nauseous.
The migraines continued in similar fashion for many years and for several of those I took a preventative medicine. It was somewhat effective, yet didn’t wipe them out, and I had to wear sunglasses in physics class (and boy did I look hot) since the florescent lights seemed to trigger migraines. The classic pattern for the migraines was 20-30 minutes of visual aura—looks like dancing splotches in my field of vision—followed by intense pain in my head. The next day I would usually start the day with a residual dull ache. Many times I was nauseous.
About 17 years ago, I figured out that if I take 2 ibuprofen at the onset of the visual aura I could short circuit the rest of the process so that all that would happen is a dull headache for the rest of the day or often just a few hours. I was still wasn’t happy about getting them as often as I was, so I tried herbal supplements, to no avail. That’s when I started playing with my food intake.
I wondered if the migraines had something to do with what I was eating. I know, you’re so smart that if you were in my life earlier you would have suggested that when I first started getting them, but you weren’t so it wasn’t until later that something clicked that it might be food related. Pat yourself on the back for how smart you are and keep reading.
Trying to figure out what was causing them, I stopped eating breakfast, the ‘most important meal of the day.’ The result? I dropped 15-20 pounds without trying, I felt better, and poof, virtually no migraines.
What?! Skipping the most important meal of the day all these health benefits accrued? How can that be?? Well, a few important things happened. Since I was only eating two meals a day and there was only so much I could stuff in at a time, I was eating about 1600 calories or so (without even tracking it). In other words, I began getting the right amount of calories for my body. Also, something about skipping breakfast must have reset my metabolism, allowing me to process the foods I was eating better so those foods responsible for the migraines were having less effect.
I want you to follow me here – I didn’t set a goal to lose the weight. I didn’t set a goal to eliminate the migraines since I didn’t even know if that was possible. I was simply tired of the migraines and was willing to try things to figure it out. And what I did flew in the face of the so-called experts and the conventional wisdom that we all throw around.
Fast-forward a few years, I was in school as an adult learner with several kids and a full-time job. I didn’t have time to workout. Or at least I didn’t take the time. The result? Carrying around more weight than I wanted.
Once I was finished with school, I had time to work out and a travel schedule that was amenable to doing so several times a week. In combination with that, I was in a rough emotional spot, had access to a great gym at no cost, and was receiving a per diem for meal expenses when I traveled so anything I didn’t spend I got to keep. The combination was potent.
I was eating the right amount of food for what I needed without eating out so I wasn’t consuming too many calories and was saving extra money. I was working out 4-5 days a week, cardio and weights. I had time to make the workout as long as I wanted. Since I was in an emotionally tough spot I was working out to work things out mentally and emotionally.
The result? Best shape of my life. Six-pack. Stronger than ever.
Follow me here. I didn’t set a goal to get a six-pack. I didn’t set a goal to get stronger. I was just trying to use my time wisely and take care of my mind, body, and spirit.
Fast-forward to now, July 2017. I want my six-pack back (I let it go during the divorce and the lead up to it by eating handfuls of Fruit Loops at 11 pm). For 4 years now I’ve told myself I’m going to get it back. For 4 years I’ve said hundreds of times, “Today is the day I start,” only to find myself eating 600 extra calories after dinner. For 4 summers I’ve said, “This is the summer I’ll get my six-pack back,” only to find I still have a little extra padding. For 48 months I’ve said something like, “By this date I want to have it back,” only to find the cookies at the hotel front desk more appealing.
I’ve set the goal to get my six-pack back dozens of times and I’ve failed each time. I even wrote it down and told others so I was accountable. Still failure.
What is my point?
Of the 21 millionaires I interviewed, 3 of them consistently operated with goals to become successful. Only 3. Of the 12 Olympians I have interviewed, each has goals during Olympic training, yet not all of them had a goal to become an Olympian.
Goals as we currently understand them don’t work for everyone.
I lost weight trying to resolve my migraines. I got a six-pack trying to use my time wisely. I get nowhere trying to lose weight and get my six-pack. 19 entrepreneurs became millionaires not really trying to be.
I’m sharing this because I get so frustrated with the common success literature that claims to have the ‘right way’ to do everything, including reach your wildest dreams. And goals are almost always a big part of that. What if they weren’t though? Not at least in the way we understand them? What if we operated better another way, as the experience of these Olympians, millionaires, and my own path demonstrate?
What do you really want in life? Sure, set that as your ultimate goal and path. But maybe, just maybe, aside from setting SMART goals in a business setting where you have to be aligned on what needs to be done and when, YOU might be like the millionaires, Olympians, and other successful people I’ve interviewed and you might operate a little better another way.
That other way might be to set an intention and focus and let it guide your decisions. That other way might be as Matt Given put it, following the next logical step. That other way might be to set plans then play your hunches, trusting your gut. Here's the thing; I don't know what way you operate best, but you do. I simply want you to have the truth about my own and others' experience that flies the face of the 'undisputed experts' and conventional wisdom.
What you do with it is up to you...