I’ve been thinking about shared goals recently. Anyone who knows me will have heard me talk about the importance of hope. Hope is a sense of a better future, seeing the steps towards it and having the self-belief to take those steps. Hope is fundamental to our sense of well-being and links to some really key outcomes such as better health, less pain, consulting the doctor less and even living longer. Hopeful people are happy people. Hopeful people adjust to new circumstances. You get more hopeful by focussing action on aspects of the future that you can improve.
Many of us have hopes and goals which we set ourselves and are working towards like losing a certain amount of weight or running 5k in a certain time or getting a certain job. I’ve always been a person to set myself these sorts of goals. They are usually part of wanting to feel healthy, secure and ‘making the most of life’, which is an overarching value for me. These small goals are also a great way of getting a dopamine fix without turning to food. Small actions towards your best hopes are small wins that you can notice and celebrate. If we get into good habits, these small steps can be taken almost without effort. I used to absolutely dread exercise as a teenager. I would hide to avoid PE at school. I now feel out of sorts if I don’t get some kind of physical activity in every day. My young self would be totally amazed!
When I think about my proudest and most fulfilling achievements, success has come in collaboration with others. Great things happened because I worked with other people to achieve a goal we all shared. We had the same hopes for the future and worked together to bring them to life. Each of us brought our unique talents to the task. Some projects require a whole range of different skills and can take many months or years to realise. A shared sense of achievement is probably one of the most satisfying emotions there is.
Most things make sense when seen through the lens of evolution. How did our ancestors survive? It often helps me to look at life in this way. In particular, how did that quest for survival mould our brains? This can often explain where we go wrong in modern society. We are driven to eat sweet foods because otherwise we didn’t put on enough fat to survive the winter. We like to lounge around in front of the TV because that preserves precious energy we might need later. We worry and get anxious because our ancestors had to be good at picking up threat information.
The ancestors that survived were the ones who co-operated with others. The tribe was founded on working together and sharing food, shelter and warmth. Maybe we are hard wired to help each other get by as a group? Do our lives sometimes lack this sense of shared purpose in modern society? More people are living alone, and in the last year even working alone at home. Some of us moved away from family for work. Some of us learned to be self-sufficient as children for any number of reasons and find it hard to lose the sense of having to cope with everything alone.
I have always loved the power of the group to help people with a shared struggle but usually I was the person ‘organising’ everyone. This year I have loved connecting with the food addiction recovery world and working with everyone as part of the tribe towards our shared goal of staying sugar free and being our best.
If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together