The Best Ways to Succeed in Your Pursuit of Goals

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Happy young woman chasing her pursuit of goals on laptopWhen you’re working on recovering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), you need to work on making lasting changes that support and foster your recovery. This can be difficult. Too often, people involve themselves in the pursuit of goals. Recovery normally starts out well but quickly tapers off and they end up in exactly the same place they were when they started. This is damaging to your recovery, your self-confidence, and the quality of your life overall. To avoid this problem, you need to implement tactics and tricks that will allow you to make lasting change, to set and achieve your life goals rather than allow them to lapse. This won’t be easy, but the value of learning how to do this is incalculable.

Why the Pursuit of Goals is Important

The pursuit of goals is one of the things that makes life so exciting and satisfying. It allows you to work towards better things and to take steps in your life that make your circumstances better. You can set goals to improve your health, your career, your personal life, or your family life, and working towards them can give you a sense of purpose and achievement. This work is especially important if you have AFS and need to live a healthy lifestyle that supports your recovery and your continued good health. Because, without the ability to keep working towards and achieving these kinds of goals, you will find yourself unhealthy, unhappy, and unable to break out of your negative patterns.

There’s a whole industry out there trying to teach the pursuit of goals and yet many people still struggle with it. There’s also a lot of conflicting advice, so if you’re working on this aspect of your life, then you need to make sure you get techniques that actually work.

The Benefits of Setting Goals

Notebook with pursuit of goals written downThere are a number of benefits to the pursuit of goals. Some of the most important benefits include

Goals give you focus

You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Setting goals gives you something to focus on and keeps you on the right track. They’re a benchmark for what success looks like to you. Without this guidance, you would spend your life drifting and never get anywhere that you would want to be.

Motivation in the bad times

Everyone has bad times in their life in terms of their motivation. This could be during times of ill health or just when you’re busy and don’t seem to have the time or the energy to do any more than you have to. The pursuit of goals can spur you forward despite these barriers, and that kind of dedication during the hard times practically guarantees that you will succeed in making a better life for yourself.

A sense of purpose

Everyone needs a sense of purpose in their life, the feeling that they’re doing something important. Setting the right kind of goals can give you this purpose when nothing else does.

Goals will teach you about yourself

When you set and work towards your goals you learn about yourself. You learn about the limits of your own strength, about your own personality, and about what you really want from life. And that’s quite possibly the most valuable benefit offered by the pursuit of goals.

Goals can reduce stress

If you’re setting the right goals, they will give you a clear path and action steps to take you towards what you want. This will remove a lot of the uncertainty and questioning from your life and reduce your overall stress levels. This is particularly important if you have conditions such as AFS, which are caused or exacerbated by stress.

Goals Aren’t Enough

Setting goals isn’t enough to guarantee success in your pursuit of goals. There is more work to this than just deciding that you want different things in your life. Professor Peter Gollwitzer from New York University claims that good intentions are only around 20-30 percent of goal achievement. So, there are far more vital components if you want to be successful in this endeavour. Gollwitzer claims that there are two key components to achieving goals, which are

How you frame your intentions

You’re more likely to achieve goals that are specific and measurable rather than goals that are vague. For instance, setting a goal to exercise for 15 minutes will allow you to see and measure your progress. But if you set a goal to “exercise more,” there is no real way to track your progress and you will become demotivated. Specific goals also give you a clear benchmark of when your work is done, so you can reward yourself.

If you’re looking for an easy system to help you design your goals, try SMART goals. They’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting these types of goals is far more motivating and effective than most other types.

pursuit of goals in blocksAnother issue you need to think about when creating your goals is how you define them because this too affects your motivation. Gollwitzer writes that the pursuit of goals is more effective when the goals are viewed as learning opportunities rather than performance opportunities. A learning opportunity is a chance to increase one’s competency to perform a task, so when goals are framed in this context both successful and unsuccessful attempts are valuable. They’re a chance to learn that naturally includes some risk of failure to increase resiliency. In contrast, performance goals call into question your overall competency as a person. So when setbacks occur, you’ll be left feeling inadequate, hopeless, and unmotivated. And after a while, these emotions can become entangled with the idea of lifestyle changes and cause long-term demotivation.

How successful you are at self-regulating and carrying out your new, goal-directed behaviors

A vital part of the pursuit of goals is how good you are at motivating yourself to carry out your new behaviors. There’s no point in setting great goals if you don’t take steps to achieve them. If you want to succeed at this, you need to start small. Don’t try to run a marathon if the most you walk is around the house. Instead, start by planning one small change, something that’s easy to do every day, and will motivate you to do more. This will help you to build the habit of your new behaviors and get you started on the path to better health and goal achievement. It will also make the whole process less stressful, which is extremely important if you have AFS.

What is AFS?

Finding positive ways to control and eliminate stress is extremely important, because stress can quite literally kill you. It can cause a variety of health problems and diseases such as mental illnesses, inflammation, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. To protect you from these dangers, your body has a system that’s designed to help you cope with stress. This is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. This system activates changes in your body that help you respond to stress and protect you from it at the same time. But if you experience prolonged stress, this system can become overworked and start to break down, resulting in AFS.

When the NEM stress response becomes overworked, your adrenal glands are usually the first to start to struggle. Your adrenals are important in times of stress, and in everyday life, because they secrete hormones that are vital for functioning. This includes cortisol, which is sometimes known as the stress hormone. During times of stress, the demand for cortisol goes up sharply, which often leaves you feeling wired and tired at the same time. This demand can cause the adrenals to become fatigued, which leads to imbalances in circuits throughout the body as well as a combination of exhausting and perplexing symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, palpitations, mental disturbances, and weight gain.

Due to the lack of understanding about AFS, this situation can continue indefinitely, with sufferers unable to understand their own symptoms or to get help with their recovery. And this can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening, which is why it’s so important that you learn what you need to do to recover from this condition.

The Best Goals for AFS Recovery

Young woman sitting on the edge of bed looking out into window thinking about pursuit of goalsIf you have AFS, the successful pursuit of goals is absolutely essential, especially when it comes to goals that are designed to improve your health and make vital lifestyle changes. AFS can be a contradictory disorder. Often, when people go to their doctor with AFS symptoms, they will receive advice and medication that treats the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. This approach isn’t very helpful when it comes to AFS because it may reduce or eliminate certain symptoms while also putting more strain on the body.

The key to healing your AFS is to take a holistic approach to recovery that considers the health of the body as a whole as well as the underlying cause of the problems. One of the best ways to do that is by setting goals that reduce the amount of stress that the body is under. Because stress both exacerbates and causes AFS, this will help to alleviate your symptoms and start to correct the various imbalances that are causing the AFS symptoms.

If your pursuit of goals is linked to AFS recovery, here are some areas that you should focus on when setting your goals:

Dietary changes

Making dietary changes will allow your body to heal the damage that stress has caused and help your body to fuel itself properly for everyday life. The best diet for AFS recovery contains lots of lean proteins, fats, and vegetables. You should also try to eliminate harmful foods such as dairy products and heavily processed foods.

Identifying and either eliminating or reducing causes of stress

If you have AFS, your pursuit of goals should all be based around reducing stress. There are lots of things in the modern world that cause stress, which is why these types of goals are so important to your AFS recovery. It might be your work that causes you stress, a bad relationship, your environment, or even your bad health itself. Whatever is causing you stress, you need to identify it and set goals to eliminate the problem.

Adopting stress reducing practices

Young man with bow and arrow targeting the target to reach pursuit of goalsLife is stressful and you can’t eliminate all of the causes of that stress. The only way to cope with that truth is to adopt practices that calm and relax you. Gentle stretching or yoga is good for stress reduction, as is meditation and other mindfulness practices. Just make sure you work with your body and not against it when adopting these practices. In the later stages of AFS, strenuous exercise can do more harm than good, so don’t force yourself to exercise if you don’t have the energy. Instead, focus on supporting your body throughout its healing and never take on a new exercise routine without getting professional clearance first.

The Takeaway

Setting and achieving your health and lifestyle goals is one of the most effective ways to recover from conditions like AFS. Being able to do this will also immeasurably improve every other part of your life, in ways you probably wouldn’t expect. That’s why learning more effective strategies for the pursuit of goals is one of the best things you can do. It will give you the techniques and strategies you need to actually attain the life and the lifestyle that you want. And this will not only improve or eliminate your AFS, it will set you on the path to better health and a more satisfying and rewarding life.

 
© Copyright 2012 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Most people find the pursuit of goals difficult to maintain over the long term. But there are a number of things that can help with that. It’s all about the type of goals you make, how you express them, and having a plan for the hard times.


pursuit of goals