Is Setting A Goal Enough?
In the world of fitness, a massive premium is put on the skill of goal setting. This makes sense, after all, without purpose or intent there is little justification in doing anything. But fitness, like few other industries, is awash with motivational epithets and guidelines that if used improperly can serve to obfuscate the path we take to achieving our goals.
What do I mean? When I talk about goals, it is rarely very long before I begin discussing not the goals themselves, but the “path” to them. This statement is evidenced in the last sentence of my previous paragraph. A goal is basically a point on the map of our lives that we wish to reach. Even an active goal, such as “visit the gym three times per week for six weeks,” is still simply a point on our map. With a goal like this there are a number of things to consider; do we need to alter existing appointments, or re-prioritise our schedule; are we likely to encounter third-party resistance (“No, don’t go to the gym, come out for a drink.”) and how will we deal with it; when will we need to prepare our gym gear in order to have it ready? None of these fundamental practicalities can be dealt with by just believing ourselves capable of going to the gym three times per week. Try washing your gym gear one night and packing it back into your bag, then positively visualising clean gym gear next time you need to get it ready, and see which method leaves you smelling better as you hit the weights.
Take something simple and everyday, such as the plan to have a beef and broccoli stir-fry for dinner. That is your goal. I’m not saying for a second that you don’t imagine eating it, or the desire to have it for your dinner doesn’t fuel your motivation, but you know that in order to make it a reality there are a number of things that need to be done, all of which are infinitely more practical than visualising the meal already prepared. You will need to see which ingredients you have, and which you don’t. You need to judge how much ginger you’re going to have to buy, based on whether you’ll use the rest of it before it withers. You’ll have to move your last appointment of the day so you have time to get to the shops, then get the ingredients back home and in the fridge before you head out to Jocasta and Sebastian’s flute recital. Perhaps the kids are going to be resistant to stir-fry, so you’re going to have to either cook a separate batch for them, or devise a way to convince them that they want to eat it.
It’s no different with your fitness goals. Your goal is just a point on the map. You need to plot the path to get there. You need to anticipate obstacles and have a management plan in place for them. How are you going to reprioritise your schedule? Can you block time out of it? Can you arrange for someone else to take over something for an hour, or negotiate a trade where you buy them a free hour on another day? How will you refuse that gym-killing drink without seeming rude? Maybe you need to be rude. After all, whoever it is insisting you hijack your own efforts to improve yourself may not have your best interests at heart. Make a list of the things you need to arrange, and plan around them. Only once these obstacles have been effectively managed is your goal set. Failing to will leave you with a goal of hitting the gym, but a whole stack of excuses-in-waiting.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that maintaining your levels of motivation isn’t important, it most certainly is, but don’t mistake them for a plan, or a path. They need to fuel your journey along a path you have already mapped out. When you are struggling to find time to go to the gym, take a moment to visualise yourself with the body/strength/fitness levels you desire, and use that image to motivate you to ask someone to help. When you get asked out for that drink, imagine the way you will feel if you go to the gym, then imagine the way you will feel if you spend the night drinking sugary piss-water. Use that to motivate you along the path you’ve already mapped out.
Keep crushing it guys!
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