Goals and Resolutions
Hello all and happy holidays! So now that Christmas is behind us that means New Years is days away. As we close the holiday season and the pies, cookies, and holiday treats begin to disappear we may be thinking about resolutions or goals. While I myself do not typically do new years resolutions, I do and am a huge advocate of goals. So if you’re thinking about goals in the form of a resolution or simply are thinking about goals in terms of the next month to six months there are a few things I would recommend. This is not an article about SMART goals. That would be an entire article all unto itself. This article is about truly understanding what you want to achieve, and how to develop the mindset to make progress in achieving it.
What Is The Underlying Desire Of Your Goal
To get to the underlying desire we must first start with the outcome you want to achieve.
Step 1- What is the outcome you want to achieve? For example the outcome might be to lose 50 pounds. Once you've identified your desired outcome it's time to move on to step 2.
Step 2- Why did you choose that outcome. So if you said you wanted to lose 50lbs why did you pick 50 pounds specifically? What made this outcome important? For example did you pick 50lbs because that's what you weighed in high school, or perhaps that's what you think you should weigh to be healthy, or perhaps that's how much a doctor told you to lose. Whatever the reason, jot down why you chose that outcome. Once you've identified what made you chose that outcome move on to step 3.
Step3- Identify the underlying desire.So let's say you were 50 pounds lighter in high school and you FELT you were at your healthiest/prettiest. It would make sense to use that period of your life as the template for your outcome goal. What's important here is to understand what the FEELING is you're hoping to achieve as it's this feeling that is the underlying desire. No one cares about the number of pounds they lost. They care about looking good in their jeans, they care about feeling healthy and pain free, they care about being able to chase after their children/grandchildren, they care about feeling handsome/pretty, about feeling wanted, or desired.
Why Identifying The Desired Feeling Is Important
Perhaps you feel if you lose that 50lbs you'll get back to what you weighed in high school when you felt your prettiest or healthiest, so you associate the 50lbs with feeling pretty/healthy. However, the truth is if you lose that 50lbs the wrong way, you won't look or feel pretty or healthy. In high school you were probably quite active without even realizing it, as well as probably a good bit younger. This is important because physical activity and age play a role of how our bodies are shaped, where we carry weight and how we carry the weight. Losing weight improperly can lead to a washed out, deflated or saggy look. So while you may have lost the weight the goal of feeling healthy or pretty won't be achieved. On the other hand if you change your lifestyle, you build muscle in the right places, lose fat in the right places perhaps you only lose 30lbs but you may look and feel even better than you did in highschool. In this case the goal of feeling pretty/healthy would be achieved despite the outcome not being achieved. So whatever your goal is, ask yourself what is the underlying FEELING you’re looking to achieve. By understanding this it will help you and/or your trainer better focus efforts in your fitness programming as well as to make the right lifestyle changes that will feed and nurture this desire on your way to fully achieving it.
Part 2- Mindset
Now that you’ve given some thought to your underlying desire, this brings us to my second point, which is mindset. Without identifying your underlying desire you will have a hard time in developing the right mindset. Mindset isn’t necessarily something that you can just develop in a snap. It is often something we understand intellectually but that takes more time to feel it emotionally. What I mean by emotionally is that you can understand something to be true intellectually and yet it just doesn't feel real. For example, we all learned that smoking increases the likelihood of heart disease but for most people it just doesn't seem real. Then one day we have a heart attack, or someone we love has a heart attack attributed to smoking... now all of a sudden it feels real, and that realness makes quitting an urgent matter. However, we do not need to wait for something bad to happen to develop the right mindset towards health.
Instead we can start by identifying what you believe to be true and why it is important. For example one health and fitness mindset might be that "in order to age like fine wine, look good in my cloths and live pain free I have to commit to this is as a lifelong change because I know that mindful nutrition and regular exercise are my best chance to achieve this." Your statement of importance can be different but it has to be something you believe to be true and that matters to you. This is why knowing the underlying desire is important. If you want to feel pretty and healthy in the future, you have to identify your desire and recognize what you have to do to get there. Once you have the targeted mindset you won't likely be emotionally committed because the threat of negative consequences may not feel as real as the pain it takes to actually exercise. However, we can develop this urgency and real feeling over time by reminding ourselves daily how important it is. We all know that person who tells a lie, and they tell it so often they begin to believe it. This is no different, except it isn’t a lie. It’s a truth that doesn’t seem real because we’re young and healthy now and it’s hard to believe one day we’ll be old and busted (pardon the expression). So what I'm saying here is when developing your mindset, understand that intellectually knowing a lifestyle change is an important step, but in order to make the change you’ll have to feel it on a deeper level, which can come from how we talk to ourselves. Over time you will see others who did not take care of their health, and you'll witness the consequences and it'll further confirm you were doing the right things all along. So below are a few examples of some self talk to help you develop your desired mindset.
The more you improve the narrative and how you talk to yourself the more you'll begin to believe it. It is likely this is something that will happen in pieces and improve over time. For example it is not uncommon for people to begin to exercise before they begin changing their nutritional habits. Also notice that the statements and self talk above are in the affirmative. There is no shaming done, as beating yourself up over and over again typically promotes giving up. If you find you have a very low confidence level, are unable to use positive self talk or can't stop shaming yourself, consult with a therapist. It could save you weeks or months of frustration and help you get over that hump, so you can be on your way to achieving your goals.
As you may have noticed the change mindset is not about perfection. It isn’t about making mistakes or not making mistakes. It is about the conversation you have with yourself and asking yourself WHAT ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH TO DO NOW. If you just can’t get motivated to workout, ask yourself what are you strong enough to do now? Are you strong enough to do just one set of an exercise or walk around the block? If that’s all you have in you, and you put that effort in, you will always confirm the change mindset and the actual change will inevitably follow.