In the last blog we talked about how the excitement of working toward a goal can be motivating, but that it is likely temporary. Using goal setting to get motivated just does not give you the skills to stay motivated, which leads to the common ‘all or nothing’ approach to exercise.
The heating system in a home senses the temperature and adjusts what it’s doing to sustain a comfortable temperature inside, even as the weather changes. It is set up to continually produce and maintain that, even as conditions change. What makes it work is a built-in feedback loop designed to sense what is happening moment by moment.
Systems are designed for sustainability. Using a system, rather than goals to get motivated, means you will stay motivated, even as conditions change in your life. Your feedback loop for an exercise system is mindfulness. Present moment awareness gives you the power to sense what is happening in your mind and in your body, moment by moment. This gives you a feedback loop, so you know when you are getting off track. More importantly, the curiosity and kindness of mindfulness allow you to make the necessary adjustments so you keep getting what you really want from exercise, even when life starts to get in the way.
Wouldn’t it be great for exercise to always leave you feeling and functioning better, now, instead of waiting until you reach your goal to feel better? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew you were doing enough, instead of always feeling like you should be doing more? A systems mindset lets you know how much is enough, moment by moment. A systems mindset frees you from worrying about your ability to stick with changes, because you get the Real Results you want each time you exercise.
Even if you do have goals, things that you want to achieve with fixed endpoints, such as completing a 5K, a systems mindset will help to provide a foundation of motivation as you work toward those goals. Even more importantly, the system will be there when the goal is over, keeping you out of that all-or-noting approach to exercise.
It is smart to wait to begin working toward a goal until the time is right. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by working on a goal when you’re not ready. But, when you want to feel and function better, now is a great time to start! Remember, a system is built to adjust when outside conditions change, so you don’t have to wait until conditions are just right to start.
You use systems all the time to keep your life functioning well. Why not use one for exercise, to keep you functioning well?