Motivation: Set Yourself Up For Success

As we walk into that time of year when people take stock of their lives and make their plans for the coming year, we would be wise to consider what does and does not work in achieving our goals. Those of you who have worked with me know that I often say, “We say what we want to be true; We do what is actually true.” My personal goal is to make the gap between the two as small as possible. As we look at what we want to see happen in the next 12 months we are much more likely to be successful if we stay mindful of the gap between our conscious intentions and the intentions that prove themselves out in our behavior. For example, we may consciously INTEND to work out 5 days a week. We really and truly believe that we want to, and part of ourselves truly does. We buy new workout clothes and rearrange our schedules and we are pumped and excited to change our lives! The first week goes great! We are on fayah!! We envision ourselves healthy and cut and we are loving it!! The second week, we miss a day, but that's ok. We still believe in our fayah. We had worked late the night before, and rest really was more important. Week three comes and we really don't feel like dragging out of bed… we make 2 workouts. We are flagging. We set ourselves up not only for “failure,” but for ending up more discouraged and farther away from our goal than when we started. It doesn't have to be this way! Taking a page from a therapeutic intervention called Motivational Interviewing, the secret to success and fulfillment is scaling our goals. As you set your goal ask yourself sincerely, on a scale of 1 to 10, (where 1 is I won't do it and 10 is I will absolutely do it,) how likely are you to meet that goal? The more candid you are with yourself, the better you will succeed. If your answer is less than a 7, you owe it to yourself to reconsider your goal. You might simply need to break the goal down into smaller parts. You might make it less rigorous. You might come to understand that there is important data to consider that might influence your goal. It's time to tune into your inner wisdom and listen to what your WHOLE self wants and needs. Don't be afraid to set a goal that feels a little “wimpy.” You can always overachieve your goal. For instance, your conscious intention may be to work out 5 days a week but you are completely out of the groove. Your likelihood of suddenly going from no workouts to 5 a week is probably very low. If you can say with integrity that you can workout 2 days a week with a certainty of 7 and you achieve that goal, you can then build on it and build on it until you're at 5 or even 6 days! Your inner wisdom might also be telling you to tweak HOW you are achieving your goal. If you ultimately want to see yourself pushing your limits and doing rigorous exercise, you would be wise to start with something much less intense. It might be enough to walk for a half hour twice a week to start. You might consider a positive secondary gain that keeps you going, like listening to TED talks, or a recorded book while you walk. You will want short term motivations and incentives to keep you going when your long term goal just isn't enough to get you out of bed. Any behavior that we repeat begins to lay literal neurological paths in our brains. Our brains and our bodies seek repetition. They crave patterns and work hard to acclimate to something that will feel “normal.” When we are establishing a new normal, it feels odd and wrong at first. However, when we persist, those new neuropaths become “normal” leaving us more likely to do the behavior than not. This is why they say that forming a habit takes 6-8 weeks. It takes that long for those new neural paths to become our “normal.” This is also why it is important to keep at our goal even if we are doing it poorly! Bad workouts are actually better than no workout. Even if more than half of our workouts are bad workouts, we are still cutting a neural path for working out. Keep going! Don't let “New Year's Resolutions” leave you discouraged and frustrated. You can set realistic, attainable goals that will lead you to not only that success, but also to understanding yourself significantly better. --- If you would like help in setting and achieving your goals, contact me today: It's time to take your life back!