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Maybe when goal setting, you have wondered how hard you should push yourself. I know I have.

You may set a few goals that will be easy to achieve or that you will achieve by default, but you may also set some stretch goals.

But how much stretch should you set?

Should you really push yourself in every area of your life?

Or maybe just a couple areas?

How uncomfortable do you want to allow yourself to get?

I have been thinking about this and finally came up with an approach that has been super helpful for me while framing my goals and how intense I want to get.

But first, let me tell you a story.

I signed up at a cycling studio last week. I’ve always heard that cycling classes push you hard, but I forgot that bit of info before going to my first class.

So I went to my first class, and man, it was a workout! Pretty sure I have never sweat that much in my life. I mean, I got sweat in my eyeball! #TMI #truestory

Here’s the thing: I can’t workout hard on an empty stomach. I literally get sick and am prone to faint. I conveniently forgot that before going to class. Sure enough, 40 or so minutes in, I started overheating and getting nauseous. I somehow made it the last few minutes of the class by pedaling my feet, but laying my head on the handlebars in front of me. I then somehow got off the bike, and made a beeline toward somewhere I could sit down – all the while, I was starting to black out. I could barely see and things were getting fuzzy. “Crap!” I thought. I should have known better.

Fast forward to today. It was my first time trying a super early class. 5:45 was the class start time. When setting out my clothes last night, I thought, “I need to make sure I eat before class and bring a water bottle.”

Ugh, eating at 5am doesn’t sound appealing, but neither does passing out on a bike.

This morning I had breakfast, went to spin class, and hydrated throughout the class. Everything was fine and I felt good.

“Wow, I thought. You can really push yourself hard when you are properly nourished and hydrated!”

And then a light bulb went off!

Oh! Goals! How hard you push yourself!

The dots connected.

And if you aren’t following my crazy thought process, here is what I realized:

If you are taking care of yourself properly, you can push yourself on your goals. How much is up to you and your comfort level, but if your needs for your mind and body and soul are being met, you can attack your goals with vigor.

If you are struggling?
If you are not sleeping?
If you are stressed?
If life is throwing you curve ball after curve ball?
If you haven’t had your prayer or meditation time in months?
If you are struggling with the basics, like taking care of yourself and your family?

You can push yourself, but you are not going to get far. You are going to be overwhelmed. You might just black out.

I blacked out last summer. Not literally. I started having panic attacks. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I had way too much on my plate. I was pushing myself too much while not taking care of the basics.

It’s ok to take a break from goals if you need to take care of yourself. Or maybe taking care of yourself can be a goal? 😅 Either way, there is no shame in saying, “Not right now.”

I had to step back in several areas of my life. I had to determine what the basics were for me (I couldn’t have told you!). Then I had to prioritize those items in my life. Only then was I able to start taking on more again.

Your basics will look different than my basics, but here are a few of my basics:

  • Quiet time in the morning, which includes: gratitude list, meditation, affirmations
  • Being kind to my body by moving it and not shoving massive amounts of junk into it
  • When I get home from work, immediately prep lunch and clothes and gym bag for next day
  • Before bed: wash face, affirmations, gratitude

These are the base layers of my life. When I am doing these consistently, I can easily layer goals on top of this and push myself.

When I am not doing these and adding more and more items to my plate, I’m a train headed toward a cliff.

Now – this doesn’t mean that I am perfect and get all my base layers in every single day. But I try. And I usually get 80%+ in, usually 90%+. I am working on consistency and truly making these my non negotiables.

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