Have you ever wondered why movies like Rocky, Karate Kid, A league of Their Own and Field of Dreams are timelessly popular? Why sporting events draw huge crowds and TV ratings? We do love a good story about pushing the mind and body to it’s limit, overcoming all odds to reach a goal, don’t we? It is so exciting and inspiring!
We often connect exercise with reaching a goal, like weight loss or running a marathon. Goal are motivating. They make life exciting and challenge us to grow to discover new strengths.
Even with all this inspiration from goals, somehow exercise motivation is still a struggle. Exercising to be healthy and well is a no-brainer. Why don’t we ‘just do it’? This is the 20 Billion dollar question! Thanks to neuroscience, we have some answers. It starts with this goals mindset.
Goals take you from point A to point B.
With big goals, you would set smaller goals to keep you motivated along the way. Goals are, by definition, temporary. The sacrifices you make to get to that goal are tolerable because you know they are not forever. You can suffer through the discomfort, knowing the celebration is coming at the end. That grit of enduring challenges, the test of will, the digging deep for personal strength is part of the excitement. It keeps us riveted at the movies and sitting on the edge of our seat at sporting events, and pushing ourselves until we get to our goal.
The downslide is, using goals for exercise motivation means:
- your motivation is dependent on making progress
- you are more likely to ignore signals from your body while pushing toward a goal
- some other things in life get put on hold while working toward your goal
- what you do to reach a goal, does not build the skills for lasting change
- when the goal ends, so will your motivation
This approach can work, but it requires a lot of mental energy. With a goals mindset, you are more likely to be an all-or-nothing type of exerciser. This is why goal setting drains motivation in the long run.
Is your main reason for exercising to be healthy and well for a lifetime? If so, there is no point B. You never want it to end. Save goal setting for the results you want from exercise that are temporary. For the results you want all the time, you need a different mindset, one that taps into your natural and more sustainable motivation. In the next blog, I will explain how.