After almost 20 years of Personal Training in Vancouver, I can assure you of one thing…
If this is your opinion on fitness goal setting…
…that thing that sounds really important but also kind of boring but you know you probably need to do it since you hear that so many successful people actually do it and it works but you don’t really care enough to do it but you think you should etc…
…then it is probably because you have set and not achieved something in the past.
Fear not. We’ve ALL been there.
As someone that has spent more than a decade helping people set and achieve goals, I have seen many types of approaches. Some work, some don’t. Some work for awhile, some never get off the ground.
While all of the standard fodder out there to help you plan these goals is well-intended, the majority of them are simply tactics and miss a fundamental point.
Only when goals are aligned with VALUES will one achieve them.
Yes, there is much more to it than that, but it is a fundamental point and is usually the difference between achievers and wannabe’s.
Now this is where this post can go one of two ways….
We can get into all the principle-driven life stuff and how one needs to define their individual principles, values and goals in order to become the person you want to be and live a fulfilling, successful life.
All of which is true and necessary to ensure that you are a participant in your life and not just a spectator, watching as it passes you by.
However, given the new generation that wants everything they need to know in 140 characters or less (thanks: Twitter, FB etc) then let’s focus on the why and how to align your values and goals…and of course, we’ll do it in a bite size chunk.
We’re nearing the end of the year which means soon I’ll be meeting with many new potential Peak clients.
A handful of them will walk in and say something that ties into our ‘training for the sport of life’ philosophy quite well.
“My goal is to be the complete package. I want to look and feel confident inside and out”.
“I want to be the best ________ (mother/father/CEO/employee/etc) and set an example of what can be accomplished with a healthy lifestyle for my children.”
“My doctor told me to take action now if I want to see my grandkids.”
And that one is fine too. There is VALUE in all of them.
But I will also get just as many of these…
“I have a reunion in 2 months and I need to lose my gut”.
“It’s strapless dress season and I need to get rid of the bat wings”. (aka the drapes, the bingo arms, the flaps etc).
The problem with these immediate gratification goals is that while one may or may not achieve it in the timeframe, these people will get distracted by the next shiny thing. Or the next fitness fad. Or they get bumped off their goals by having one busy week and they never get back on track.
This happens simply because their goals are not connected to a purpose that is internally driven or connected to a value.
There are two types of motivation – internal and external (or intrinsic and extrinsic). As well, motivation can be a combination of the two.
I won’t go into all the details on each as thousands of books have been written already. But let’s just say that those that view fitness goals as solely related to external motivation (being validated by others) have a much harder time reaching and MAINTAINING those goals.
That said, there is one example where extrinsic motivation works (or at least appears that it works).
If one is so extremely externally motivated and in need of validation from others, they may be able to sustain a training goal….but it’s mostly always FEAR motivated.
Fear is a huge motivator for humans.
This is why you can see Hollywood stars with million dollar bodies…because they get paid millions to maintain it. However, how many of them maintain that when the spotlight fades on their career? Not many. Why? Because they were training for external, in this case monetary, reasons.
Their value systems are skewed compared to the average person.
You can say the same thing for anyone that is on the extreme end of the image-based continuum.
There is also the fear of “I need to look a certain way to please my _____(husband/wife/fellow attendees at the singles bar…). This too can motivate someone, but again, it’s fleeting and hollow.
To some degree, we all have one common goal.
We wanna look good nekkid. (or more realistically, at a certain age, you just want to look good with your clothes on or be able to wear skinny jeans).
Nobody has ever come to me and said “Cord, I just want to experience the joy of working out and the benefits it brings and I’m fine if it adds 10 lbs to my ass.”
Not once have I heard that.
However, where looking good nekkid ranks on your priorities and WHY (read: motivation) it ranks there will determine whether or not you achieve it.
Ideally, being motivated intrinsically will keep someone on track more effectively.
However, there is external motivation that can be effective and that is usually when external motivation is correlated with a VALUE.
For example, I recently had a goals chat with a client of mine. This client has hit goals in the past but was struggling with her motivation as of late. Her “Oprah light bulb moment” was when we discussed how she wants to be a role model for her daughter and not a roll model. She wants to be the complete package. Someone who is a strong businesswoman, great mom and will instill confidence in her daughter. I LOVE goals like that.
Now every time my client thinks “should I have that extra glass of wine” or that cookie, or skip exercise today, she correlates it to her value system and says “is that the example I want to be to my daughter?”
That’s a great case of how to use external motivation.
Or stated in a different way…
If you simply train to look purdy, you’re missing the point.
However, if you train hard and smart and for the right reasons, you will get all nice and purdy in the process. Yes, you can have it all.
So when fitness goal setting for the next year, keep Values and Motivation in mind while choosing. Ask WHY each one is important to you and decide if it’s internally or externally motivated. If it’s externally motivated, does it correlate to a value that you hold dear?
Focus on the internal motivations and values and you will have a much greater chance of not only achieving it, but maintaining it for life.
And of course, you’ll look good nekkid.
Yours in health,
Peak Fitness Management