Goals, benchmarks and numbers are all great. They work rather well for personal goals, for business stuff and whatever else. With an objective target, everything becomes simple.

You either did it, or you did not.

And therein lies the problem.

What if you did not set the right goal? What if you said you were going to lose 20 kilos but lost only 18? If you are anything like me (and unfortunately, I've realised I am not unique in this situation), you are gonna chalk it down as a failure. And categorise you as a slacker or whatever. You will lack the outsider perspective for what a frickin' amazing job you did by losing a godawful amount of weight.


For the past year and some, I've been good with a new habit of mine - journaling. I write down answers to a few prompts and reflect on them, and use them as a feed-forward loop into the next month.

this is my story, my future
Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz / Unsplash

And what I realised was I was doing the same thing. I was setting pretty good (and not random) goals but along the way, I'd realise that they were off or sometimes conflicted with one another.

While I spout sensible stuff here and say one needs the outsider perspective especially on oneself, I am as much at fault as the next person. So, how about a better framework?

Drawing a line

So, here's my attempt. Drawing a line. I am either above the line, or below the line. If I am above the line, it is a win. If I am below the line, well, three guesses.

Yes, this gets rather black or white. But it is an improvement to "I will lose 20 kilos or cry". Let's use a couple of examples - one for strength, and one for fat loss.

Your strength goal might be to be able to lift an arbitrary amount of weight. For a serious lifter, this is a no-brainer. You go into a training plan with a goal to lift a certain amount by a certain timeframe. But what matters more is showing up. And if you show up and with positive intent, good things happen. So, instead of having a goal of "I will squat 100 kilos for 5 reps", how about you set your line differently?

Above the line

Coz does it matter what you squat? Not at all. There are a zillion people who can squat more and squat better. Or you go to a small enough pond, you are the best squatter. Completely irrelevant - what one squats.

And for nutrition, instead of living and dying based on a few hundred grams, how about this?

Above the line: One habit a month

It is not fully defined - to allow a lot of leeway but also enough clarity about what you will not be doing. One month could simply be about chewing more. Another month could be about reducing the rice you eat and increasing the veggies on your plate.

Your turn

How about you define what's above the line and below the line for you - one for your activity/fitness, and one for your nutrition/health?

And the 3 of you who actually end up doing this, I'd love to see what you've come up with.