In the fitness world you are bombarded with the concept that setting goals is a vital part of keeping fit and getting the body that the magazine covers offer. Even my running app RunKeeper flashes up a set goal screen to increase my motivation. This got me wondering…and asking the question “Have I ever reached my fitness or body sculpting goals?”
The answer is no, cue feeling bad…until I looked into why. Goal setting it seems can create a few issues which might explain why most people actually don’t achieve their goals leaving them feeling like failures. Ah someone told me “you should set smaller fitness goals.” Well that makes sense but after looking into that too it seems that can limit us even further. Odd isn’t it that when we set a goal for say 10 reps of lifting weights that as soon as we get near to 10 the mind can begin to trick you into feeling that 10 is enough and fatigue sets in around that magic number. People then tend to stick to the number of reps they gave themselves which holds them back, yet they are capable of doing so much more.
With weight loss being one of the most popular goals people set and one of the biggest areas of failure, I began to rethink my ideas around goal setting and I am glad I did.
Research shows that goals can create a lack of self acceptance due to not achieving, this is a horrible trap to get caught up into. Feeling negative makes it harder to feel motivated to keep going.
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Goals are often not realistic anyway as they don’t take into account random forces of chance which can prevent reaching the end result you are trying to focus on. This again can lead to frustration and failure.
Failure or success polarity – No middle ground here which isn’t the best motivator when things start going wrong.
Goal seeking can lead to the unhealthy mindset of not noticing what is working with what you are doing to focusing on what is not working. The glass half empty attitude can be nurtured this way.
Desiring what we don’t have can cause the mind to focus on what is wrong with our lives instead of what is right. This can cause negative mindsets which can create unhelpful ways of seeing and experiencing life.
Goals can limit you as your mind can see end results as the finish line and then slow down or want to stop altogether. Look at how many people gain weight back on when they reach their “goals”.
So what did I do? I decided to let go of my fitness goals and focus on my intentions to enjoy my gym and running time. Cultivating a passion for enjoying what I am doing leads me to explore and experiment with what I am doing. Looking back at when I have been most successful and productive in life, there hasn’t been goals, just intentions to grow and be better. So now, I just go and do it, no goals but just intentions on what to work on in mind and no counting with reps!
If goals work for you then great, if not then it’s time to do something different. Why not let go of your fitness goals and intend to simply the best you can in that moment of exercise and keep that going every time you go.
Let me know how you get on.