Making Goals About Addition, Not Subtraction

I’m not good at New Year’s Resolutions. It’s funny, because I love the idea of the start of a new year, when anything seems possible and new opportunities seems stretched out in front of you, just waiting to be discovered and experienced. But thinking about what I want those opportunities and experiences to be? Not my forte. The closest I’ve come to setting and achieving (almost, >thisclose< nearly got there) a New Year’s resolution, was when I decided 2014 was going to be the year I ran a sub 1:45 half marathon. Even so, I set that ‘resolution’ in November and started training in December 2013. 

In thinking about what I want to achieve this year – since as you may remember, this is the year I want to bring passion back to my running and racing and life – it occurred to me that most of the time when thinking about healthy living goals, or resolutions if you want to call them that, we often focus on subtraction. On what can be removed, taken away, lost, gotten rid of.

Screw that. πŸ™‚

Making Goals About Addition, Not Subtraction

Go back and look at whatever resolutions you’ve made for yourself, or what goals you want to achieve this year and decide to consciously rephrase them. Make your focus on addition – what can you add to your life, to make your goal a reality? Even if your goal is weight loss, a goal that on the surface is all about taking away, you can still turn that into a goal of addition. Rather than focus on what you need to stop doing or take away in order to achieve weight loss, think about what you need to ADD in order to realize your goal. Here are a few things you can add to your everyday life that will definitely work toward making a weight loss resolution happen, for example:

  • Adding vegetables to every meal of your day
  • Adding more water 
  • Adding more movement every day
  • Adding planned exercise to your week

Doesn’t it immediately feel better and easier and more doable to think about what you can add to your life, rather than what you think you need to take away? 

This doesn’t just work for a weight loss goal. If your goal is a time or PR goal, rather than think about the time you need to take off your pace, reframe it into the types of workouts you can add, the extra sleep you can add, the different kinds of food you can add to fuel your workouts and improve your performance. Fitness goals can be tied up with body image, with expectations and beliefs we have about ourselves and what we may (or may not) be capable of. Sometimes it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone because of fear of failure, or fear that your body will not live up to what you’re asking of it. But when you’re breaking it down into things you can add into your routine and your lifestyle to help you achieve something – it just makes it seem more tangible.

The work that goes into health or fitness goals is not just physical, there are also so many emotional hang ups and issues attached to food, physical ability, weight, body image. A common scenario is that eating becomes a form of comfort or stress relief for us. Whether it’s just the physical act of eating, or it’s a specific food that makes you feel better momentarily, what happens when you make a conscious decision to subtract that food, or that comfort eating, out of your life? You’re taking away your crutch, your way of dealing with stress. The catch-22 is that you’re adding in the stress of denying yourself something that makes it easier for you to deal with stress…wrap your head around that. Likewise, something that’s often the first thing to fall by the wayside when you’re under stress in your life or dealing with anxiety is your workout – even when you know working out will make you feel better.

Move away from the all-or-nothing, subtraction way of approaching your goals, and see what happens when you focus instead on what you can add to make them easier to achieve.

Did you set goals for the year? Are your goals something you could think about in terms of addition instead of subtraction?


    This was my approach as a personal trainer. I wasn’t certified to give nutrition advice – – my choice πŸ™‚ – – but I would always encourage clients to just add in!
    water, fruit, vegetable, super vets, walking… Don’t subtract.
    Carla recently posted…Ditch the bio for a FUTURE-O.My Profile

  2. Also thinking about how your goal will add to your life makes it more attractive and will keep your head in the game. I love the perspective on this my friend!! Good stuff πŸ™‚
    Allie recently posted…A Workout, Something to Watch and A Win for the WeekendMy Profile


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