What makes exercise, or any activity enduring and worthwhile is not the goal, but our underlying motivation.
Goals are to motivation as leaves are to the root of the tree.
Great. What does this mean?
It means that goals are great tools to measure short-term progress on our true motivations. Nothing more.
By nature, each goal has a definitive end whereby success implies the cessation of activity. Prolonged failure has the same result. Either way, it's "game over." Basing a lifestyle on a subjective outcome that has a limited scope doesn't bode well for long term engagement.
Looking back to our example in the last post, by focusing on just that single leaf, all of our awareness and energy was tied up examining the temporary product of an infinitely dynamic organism. So, when the leaf dies, we are unaware that the rest of the tree eminating from the root remains. We lose perspective; we become lost.
Just as a tree has many leaves, our motivation can be realized through numerous, interchangeable goals. The art herein is to utilize a particular goal until it no longer suits our motivation, and swap it with another goal that is a better fit. This method ensures a higher probability that progress over the long term can be sustained.
Getting to your root, or motivation, may take some time pin down what you really want to achieve. Sometimes, what we say we want and what we really want are two different things.
Many people list losing weight as a reason they want to become active. Excellent start. Now, ask yourself "why?".
A possible answer may be, "To look and feel better".
But why do you want to look and feel better?
"To have more confidence and control".
See where this is going?
Try this on your own by writing down each answer, following each with "Why?". The deeper you go, the longer it should take. I encourage you to try this out over the course of a week to see how far you can go. I normally go 4 to 6 levels deep, depending on the topic. You may be surprised where this takes you, and all of the wonderful opportunities for motivation this provides. Remember, no two people will be alike and there are no wrong answers.
We do this so that when we lose 10 pounds, we don't pack it in and say goodbye to exercise. It affords us the option to keep going down this route to lose additional weight, or choose another active path altogether. Perhaps one may chose to switch goals and tone muscle, build endurance, or become active in a sport? Losing weight may no longer be important, but being active still is.
Your motivation keeps you centered and engaged. Once you discover the root, you are free to explore and enjoy all of the fruits of the tree.
Next time we will discuss Planning and its importance to exercise.