“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” – Carl Rogers
Did you make a few New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, odds are that getting healthier and maybe losing weight were in your resolutions. Good for you! According to studies, three of the top ten New Year’s resolutions people make involve some form of physical fitness.
But according to statistics, by February more than a third of us have already given up on our New Year’s resolutions. And by June? Less than half of us will still be on track with the goals we set in January. Yikes!
Fitness goals get abandoned for many reasons: You may have limiting beliefs that sabotage your good intentions. Your self-image as the “fat boy” or “sickly girl” is so strong that your subconscious thwarts any attempt to change it.
You may have run into resistance to changes you want to make from people around you. They might feel threatened by your desire to become healthier and stronger—especially if they aren’t feeling so great about their own fitness.
You may have tried to set a goal that is really someone else’s good idea for you, not your own. Maybe your doctor thinks you should weigh 15 pounds less or your husband thinks you should be able to run with him in his next half-marathon. But if you aren’t passionate about that goal, it ain’t gonna happen!
I’ve written about all of those issues in previous articles. But the pitfall I want to tackle today is: You simply hate the process it takes to reach your goal.
You hate getting up in the morning to run. You hate eliminating your favorite comfort foods from your diet. You hate being at the gym with all those perfect, spandex-covered bodies. You hate taking time out of your already frantic schedule to do all the things you need to do to become healthier.
You might be visualizing your end-goal in all its brilliant Technicolor glory. You spend time focusing on the goal, thinking how great it will be to be stronger and more flexible, how wonderful you’ll feel to fit in those skinny jeans again, how awesome it will be to have more energy and stamina to do the things you want to do.
But whenever you think of what you “have to do” to get there, ugh! You haven’t put that same positive attention on the process itself. So the path to that magnificent end still looks like a gloomy, damp trail through an alligator infested swamp!
Your negative feelings about the process to get to your goals can easily cause you to desert them before the start of Spring training! As Alan Thicke once said, ”Fitness needs to be perceived as fun and games or we subconsciously avoid it.”
One of the tricks of the trade that successful goal setters and goal getters know is how to shift that negative attitude about the journey, so that the process toward the goal is as fulfilling as achieving the goal.
Sound impossible? Here are a few tips:
- Reward yourself for effort, not just results. Don’t wait until you’ve fully reached your goal to applaud yourself. Give yourself kudos for all the efforts you make along the way. Each time you choose to eat something good for you and skip the junk food, give yourself a pat on the back. Every time you roll out of bed and into your running shoes, give yourself a high five. Take time to feel good about the steps you take along the path.
These rewards don’t have to be huge or extravagant. Even a gold star on your calendar for each day you work out can make you feel proud of yourself. Focus on associating good feelings with the process to dissipate negative feelings that hold you back.
- Find processes you already enjoy. Not everyone enjoys weight training or eating celery sticks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! But the world of health, fitness and weight loss has a zillion options to help you get good results. Do some research and try out different possibilities.
Hate to run? How about square dancing or Zumba for aerobic fitness? Hate being cooped up in a gym? How about Tai Chi in the park or Yoga? Or add things you enjoy to make the process more pleasurable, like candlelight to a healthy meal or music to your weight training.
- Turn your like to dislike and vice versa. In the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) I teach and practice, we have several specific techniques that instantly switch your feeling of “liking” something to “disliking” it or vice versa.
These techniques are most effective when you’re guided by a qualified NLP practitioner. But to get a taste of how this could work in the area of fitness, try these steps:
- Visualize a specific part of your health and fitness process that you don’t like, for example working out on the treadmill. Notice how your body feels, your emotions. Is the picture of being on the treadmill in color or black and white? Far away or close? Focused or unfocused? Still or moving? What sounds do you hear?
- Now think of an activity that’s somewhat similar but is something you enjoy, maybe playing catch with your child. As you visualize this fun activity, notice how your body and emotions feel. Is this new picture in black or white, far or close? Sharply focused or unfocused? Still or moving? Any sounds?
- Finally, go back to the picture of the activity you dislike. As you see this image, start shifting its characteristics to be similar as the activity you like. In other words, if your fun activity showed up in color, add some color to the picture of the one you don’t like. Add the sounds from your fun activity. Make this picture farther or closer, moving or still to match your fun activity. As you do this, notice any shifts in your body and emotions.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of our lives will be spent heading toward our goals, not just achieving them. Make sure the journey itself is a joy-filled, satisfying one!