Monday, October 8, 2012

Goals Lunch & The Lean

Time for a post, and I've got just the topic to keep me at it for many weeks.

I work in higher ed, a job requiring a lot of self-discipline in order to get research and writing done so that I can get published so that I can get satisfactory annual reviews in order to keep my job.

I have absolutely no self-discipline. If it weren't for the strategies based on the principles of behavior that I apply in my life, this would be me.

Picture from Where they stole it from I have no idea.
Only those cans would be Diet Coke cans and those chips would be in the bag. Because who bothers with portion control when eating chips? Not me. And apparently not this cat, as that is way more than one portion there, Puss.

As evidence of my lack of self-discipline, I am blogging on a Monday afternoon instead of working on the aforementioned research and writing. One could argue that I'm doing it on my lunch hour. But professors do not get lunch hours.

I'm not complaining though. I leave work three days a week at 2:30 to pick up my 5YO from school. Okay, I then work 2 days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. straight through to make up for those 3 days, but hey, my point here is that I have a very flexible schedule.

OFF TOPIC! See, no self-discipline!

Back to my original topic...

Others in my profession seem to need some sort of structure as well to get things done, so a few colleagues and I have started a goals lunch group. We meet for lunch once a week and set goals for the week. Whoever doesn't meet their goals has to buy lunch for everyone else. Your goals are totally up to you, and it's the honor system for reporting.

Last year I was pretty listless about the whole procedure, so this year I added a "public posting" component and everyone agreed to join me, so now we write our goals on a big post-it and report whether we completed them.

It's a nice weekly get-together with colleagues and friends. The punishing nature of buying lunch usually does a pretty good job of keeping me on track with my goals, and the public posting provides a forum for me to "reward myself with a check," which is usually enough of a reinforcer (in combination with the punishment)  to keep me honest and "motivated" (not a word we behaviorists like but it works for me here).

I'll have to ask them, but I think this will be our 7th year of doing Goals Lunch. I got tenure, so I guess it's working for me overall. Though one year, I had to buy lunch about 14 times.

This year we've added to new members to the Core Group, including Melly, who I'm sure I've mentioned before. Smartest person I know and kind as they come. But with an edge. I like that in a person.

In the interest of keeping with my Gone With the Wind theme, the other two Core Group members shall be known as Suellen and India. This year we have 2 new additions, K1 and K2 (I can only take the GWTW theme so far before it becomes taxing).


Melly and I decided we are going to "do" this book:
In a nutshell, it's a book about "leaning" into veganism.

Let me just unequivocally state right now that I have no intention of giving up meat and dairy completely and forever, but I need to eat healthier and given that I have no self-discipline, I need some structure to do so. This book is more than about veganism; it seems to be (I am only on chapter 4) about living a healthier life.

Anyhoo, Freston lays out a day-by-day plan of making one change a day: 1st day, drink 64 ounces of water; 2nd day, eat a hearty, healthy (no animal products) breakfast; 3rd day, eat an apple, etc. Each day is cumulative (i.e., you do that day's change AND all prior changes).

The idea is to "crowd out" all the bad stuff with good stuff.

Melly and I have made adjustments and our plan is that we are going to do it week-by-week instead of day-by-day. When we get to a daily-weekly goal that we think we are not going to adopt as a permanent part of our lifestyle, we are going to make the adjustment for that week and then agree to do it for a certain number of days per week after. For example, there comes a time in the 30 days-weeks that we are to be totally animal-product-free. So we'll live that week without animal products and then commit to one or two or three days a week of animal-product-free living from then on.

Because we're both behaviorist, we're going to take data on our progress, graph the data, and do some more public posting. I may post here just to keep a record somewhere other than on my computer. (My computer crashed this week and of course, I had not backed up for a few months, so I'm just sick about what I may have lost.) And to shamelessly get some "atta' girl" shout-outs from my 6 blog followers/readers.

Thanks to my blog followers/readers! You're swell!

I'm in week 2 of The Lean, so I'm drinking 64 oz of water per day and eating a hearty, healthy, no-animal-products breakfast every day. In addition, I'm working on reducing my Diet Coke intake by reducing it by 2 oz per week. I started at 20 oz/day (which was a reduction of about half) and this week I'm down to 16 oz/day. I'm also shooting for 26 min of some sort of exercise per day (I started with a goal of about 20 min/day and began adding minutes each week).

So far, I have not had to buy lunch! Yay!


  1. Good for you! I cannot do the vegetarian thing. I just don't like enough of those foods. I am severely lacking in self discipline at work right now, and it really shows in a number of ways. It sucks. not work....the no discipline!

  2. Cool! Accountability for goals makes such a big difference. I love the buying lunch idea and I think establishing habits a week at a time makes way more sense than a day at a time. Good work so far!


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