Home It's All Mental My Re-Dedication And My Goal Tree: How Do You Manage Your Goals?

My Re-Dedication And My Goal Tree: How Do You Manage Your Goals?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Last week, when I wrote about my safety issues and how they’ve been affecting my ability to be active and social, I felt proud of myself. It was difficult to admit what I’ve been struggling with, but it felt as though I’d relieved myself of a major weight off my shoulders.

Puns are never intended. I promise.

It was relieving, but it was also important. Identifying and acknowledging the problem, as well as accepting that the problem exists is a key element to being able to solve the problem. I cannot address what I refuse to see. I learned that the hard way when I first began to address my emotional eating. Taking this path has proven to be successful for me, so I’m going to keep at it.

In deciding that I wanted to move forward with becoming a personal trainer, I also decided that I wanted to have a far more toned, fit, pillar-of-perfectionesque body. Basically, what I was working towards before I moved. I’d definitely call the issues with the harassment a derail – that’s a gross simplification, but still – but luckily, I didn’t gain weight. I wasn’t emotionally eating, and my caloric intake was stable, so I didn’t gain. My body definitely changed with the lack of weight lifting and pole dancing (my apartment is FAR too small for a long-legged lady like myself, not to mention the ceilings are far too high for me to put up my pole), but I’m okay with that. It’s what happens when you neglect your commitment. You begin to lose the muscle you worked hard for in the first place.

It’s frustrating, and it sucks, but it happens.

I’m approaching this all as a brand-spankin’ new start. It’s essentially where I was back in 2009, when I realized that I was an emotional eater. I had a problem that was holding me back, I needed to address it and find ways to get around it while I plotted out how I intended to defeat it, and I have real progress I want to make both mentally and physically. I know this path, I’ve traveled it before, and after learning that I can succeed this way, I’m convinced that I can do it again. I don’t know how much of it I will blog, but I think keeping a record of this is best for me.

My first start is to set my goals firmly in place, and I’m going to do that with a goal tree… at least, that’s what I’ve been calling it.

It looks a lot like a family tree, starting with my overall final goal at the top. Take my sample, for example:

At the top, you might see something that says “become the fit Oprah.” Not sayin’ that Oprah ain’t fit, but that Oprah’s empire isn’t fitness-centered. I’m not tryin’ to shade the almighty Queen. Pardon me while I bow.

But the next question, after that, should be how do I do that? That’s what those first bubbles attached to the sides are – two ways that I’ve identified that can help me achieve those goals. (And, no, that doesn’t say “put a hit out on Gayle.” Stop squinting your eyes.)

There are multiple ways to approach my goal – and all of them need to be addressed – but the one I’m focusing on, in the middle, says “tighten up, toots!” which is the one branch of my goal tree that was negatively affected by my newly-developed hermitness. Now that I’m fully tackling it head on, I had to figure out my plan of action.

Instead of settling in on losing weight, I’m focusing more on burning fat. That way, I’m not out here losing muscle and thinking it’s okay because I’m still “losing weight.” Therefore, I’m working on modifying my body fat percentage. By focusing on the amount of fat my body carries in comparison to the amount of actual important and legitimate stuff there is, I can cheer on my muscle development as well as my fat loss and be pleased. I plan to do these by staying on top of my food intake – which, c’mon, I’m an all-star at this, baby – while staying on top of my yoga for stress relief, hitting the weights as well as training for my first big race.

Because I have two goals that could potentially run counter to one another – getting back to my pre-injury running ability and building muscle – I have to keep my running light, but still effective for training. I’m not trying to kill myself out on someone’s track.

The basic gist of this, is that you keep on branching out your goal tree until you have spelled out, for yourself, in basic bare bones how to accomplish every goal on your list. In other words, it helps you plan. If you want to lose 5% of your body’s weight in fat, then you’ve given yourself five ways of checking your barometer for success. Did you stay on top of your yoga practice and relieve stress? Did you hit the gym as often as you wrote down? Did you stay on top of your clean eating? Are you lifting like you said you would? If not, and you aren’t progressing towards your goal, then you’ve got an immediate response as to why that’s happening.

Though I have plans to blog about internal dialoguing tomorrow, I do want to say that there is a mental aspect of this that’s required to make it work – it means that your goals have to be front and center in your mind non-stop. Every step you take has to be a step that will help you accomplish your goals.

Yes, even at work. How can you manage stress if you’re out here messing up at work and borderline getting fired?

I don’t think this method is for everyone, though, because some people benefit more from having those deadlines by which to reach x amount of pounds lost, but I find that that doesn’t work too well for those of us who are trying to commit (or, as it were, recommit) to a new lifestyle. That being said, I’ve got to ask: how do you set up your goals, and how do you keep track of your progress?

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LC April 10, 2012 - 10:25 AM

I definitely need to do this. But whenever I sit down and create a goals tree, I start feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to happen so that I can achieve my goals. Fitness is always on my list of things to do but it inevitably gets pushed to the back (along with anything else that is self-care related). I’m just not sure how to accomplish it all without many more hours in the day!

Joy Weese Moll April 10, 2012 - 10:49 AM

I love your goal tree. I use mind maps to get my thoughts on a page, but sometimes I need something a bit more organized like this.

Christi April 10, 2012 - 12:03 PM

Nice goal tree, Erika. I’m gonna try one of those myself!

One curious question: do you have any qualms at the idea of bringing your body fat down to fifteen percent? That seems awfully low, even for an athletic person. Are you at all worried about developing amenorrhea?

Erika Nicole Kendall April 10, 2012 - 12:24 PM

15%, generally, isn’t that low in comparison to those who are consistent lifters and active in muscle development. Amenorrhea is more related to hyper-activity and the stress it can cause on the body, not simply by having a body fat percentage less than 20%. Many of the “fit” people we see every day have body fat percentages that hover around 18%. If I were to put a warning number on it, I’d say somewhere around 12%, simply because the body does need SOME fat to function. At any rate, I’m a HUGE proponent of listening to my body. I can look in my mirror and know when it’s time to stop, and even if I couldn’t, I’ve got a support system that I trust to keep me in check. I’m not above acknowledging that I need them, lol. I think we all do.

There are a few links that explain causes of amenorrhea and, while merely having a low body fat percentage isn’t a cause, the extreme measures that some may use to acquire that percentage is.


Hope that helps 🙂

Kaycee April 10, 2012 - 3:09 PM

Tried to post this on your post last week about safety, but didn’t work. I also think we sometimes interchange race for SES. I find that unacceptable behaviors happens in all settings, but certainly moreso in what we call “poor” neighborhoods.

I can’t relate on the safety tip, but I’ve also never lived in NYC. :o) But I think being raised in the hood did the exact opposite to me. I am and have always been very bold, if not foolish, when it comes to being out and about no matter the time of day.

I did, however, find myself nodding when you spoke of how walking in your former neighborhood was “safe” because I realized that I have enjoyed that same privilege since being a small child. But especially now that I live in a college city that’s also the capitol of the state.

I applaud your courage and the steps you’ve identified to help you on your way to addressing these issues.

BTW-emotional eating was never my issue, but has become over the last 2 months. Talk about irony—I’ve been eating my depression! But now that I recognize it, I’m back in the gym and watching what I eat. Never would’ve put the two together had it not been for you!

Jonesie April 11, 2012 - 11:21 AM

“Instead of settling in on losing weight, I’m focusing more on burning fat.”

My trainer shared a similar sentiment with me a few weeks ago, and it freed me in a way that I hadn’t imagined. Now, instead of obsessing over the scale and weighing myself several times a day (time waste!), I’m focused on strength training and losing fat.

This was an awesome post. I think I need to make a few goal trees with regard to several areas of my life.

Julie B April 11, 2012 - 2:24 PM

I love this post!! Every single time you write about your personal experiences I learn something about myself. I would love to see what your goal tree looked like in 2009. The way you are completely honest and motivated to figure yourself out is inspiring. Keep ’em coming woman!

Wenona Wynn May 14, 2012 - 8:16 PM

Thank you so much for this. You will be the “fit-Oprah” because you are letting us “witness” your process so we can see how to help ourselves move to the next level. All of your techniques could be applied to any issue or part of life.

Ceej July 26, 2013 - 1:12 AM

Great goal-setting idea! Thanks for sharing!

kitty July 27, 2013 - 3:40 AM

This is a great example for planning and setting goals especially in the weightloss/fitness world. I’m on my 5th time going for a huge weightloss regimen. My problem is managing my weightloss and staying motivated. I don’t want to keep yoyo dieting, that’s unhealthy. I need disclipline and a one track mind. I’ve lost 11 lbs so far and want to lose 40 more. How can one tell or track fatloss instead of weightloss?

Erika Nicole Kendall July 27, 2013 - 4:06 PM

Fabulous question. Track your body fat percentage! This is a good tool; it’s not 100% accurate – nothing comes anywhere near 100% other than hydrostatic testing – but as a tool that you can track over time, it’s meaningful.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 17, 2013 - 6:01 PM

No, but holy crap. 🙁

Kathrin August 18, 2013 - 12:37 AM

This is awesome —- a goal tree! I am having a rest weekend (my knee is bothering me), so this is a perfect thing to do!!

I bought a new scale a few months ago that has a body fat measurement tool. I step on once a month. So far so good…4.5% down

Tarsha December 29, 2014 - 4:22 PM

Hi Erika,
I am new to your site, but love the blog post and articles, I have read so far… Looking forward to working with you in 2015. First goal of the year, draft a Goal Tree.

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