Whilst we feverishly devour an endless supply of chocolate eggs and butter-laden hot cross buns this Easter (speak for yourself Suzi), I thought I would share a personal (albeit slightly contradictory) experience with you…you can thank me later.
A couple of weeks ago, I reached a health and fitness goal I had set myself eight weeks earlier. It may not sound that significant, right? However to me it was a substantial achievement, as I have set myself the exact same goal countless times over the last ten years – and this was the first time I accomplished it.
So what was different this time, when on every other attempt it ended unsuccessfully?
Here are the seven reasons why I believe I achieved my goal this time around:
1. Wanting it, and I mean really wanting it. As my personal trainer said to me – “It needs to be a 9 out of 10 (in terms of how important the goal is to you), as you need the drive to get you through the tough times – and enough motivation to forgo the things you want in the present.” I had to want the end result more than anything else, so that I would pick running in the rain over mooching on the couch, every time, without exception.
2. Emotional attachment. There has to be a kinaesthetic reaction, a physiological response when we picture the outcome. For example, when I thought about achieving this goal, I literally felt ten feet tall, I could describe in minute detail what I would be seeing, doing and feeling, when I achieved the fitness goal. The emotional connection was so strong, I would literally bounce out of bed each morning to exercise as I knew it was getting me closer to that goal (true story!).
3. Support. I could not and would not have achieved my goal without someone else helping me and holding me accountable. My personal trainer had no qualms in carrying out the dreaded ‘fat test’ every two weeks, and the fear of embarrassment far exceeded the temptation to indulge in that extra glass of chardonnay.
4. Make it a habit. It has been scientifically proven that the brain is hard wired for habit. If we do something enough, the brain will create new links and connections and soon it becomes a new habit. There was a time when I never could have seen myself doing exercise 5-6 times a week. I did it and suffered for a while, knowing I was creating a new habit. Now it has become so habitual, I can’t imagine NOT doing it.
5. Positive reinforcement – through imagery and visualisation. It might seem a little flowery for some, but for me, visualising myself and how it would feel to reach my fitness goal, every morning when I woke up and last thing when I went to sleep, was a positive experience – it felt good to imagine this goal attained. It was Buddha who said “What we think, we become” – and now I could not agree more.
6. Re-framing. I changed the way I thought about food, re-labeling ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food to healthy food i.e. food choices that were nutritious and good for my body, as opposed to those which didn’t. Re-framing in this way helped enormously.
7. Hard work. There’s no getting away from it. I worked hard on this goal and made it a priority. This meant making certain sacrifices yes, but the hard work was definitely worth it.
I hope this serves one or two of you to think about re-setting a goal left unaccomplished in the past, and if you would like to share your goal achievement tips I would love to hear from you.
Happy Easter everyone.