How Do I Stay Committed To My Goals?
Imagine this scene.
You want to get fit and you have joined a gym with the intention of setting up a fitness regime.
You have all the best intentions and just know that this time you really will follow through with the promises you made to yourself to the point where you have even scheduled your gym visits into your planner starting tomorrow immediately after work.
The only problem is you have no way of knowing how you will feel tomorrow after a long days work.
You may feel great and pumped at the thought of pumping iron. Or you may not.
Then tomorrow comes and it’s an insanely hectic day in the office. You have no time to even take lunch and your expected leaving time of 4.30pm becomes 5.30pm.
Not that that is a problem or reason not to go because your partner would happily start dinner in your absence and you have nothing special to rush home for.
What do you do?
Let The Self Justification Begin
If you’re like most people here is the answer to that question.
Firstly, you probably start to notice every ache and pain in your own body.
You start to dwell on how hard working out is and how much a work out could add to those aches and pains the following morning.
You tell yourself you’ll go but you really don’t want to because you’re tired, not in a great mood and ravenously hungry due to not having eaten a proper meal since breakfast.
By this point the decision has already been made even if you don’t know it at a conscious level yet. You’re not going to the gym.
You may still take the gym route home from work, but it’s really not worth it because you’re fighting an uphill battle against your unconscious, a battle you’re unconscious isn’t in any mood to lose.
Without any effort on your behalf you now slip into self justification mode and you’re brilliant at it. I know that because every human being on the planet is, it’s what we do best.
- The gym hurts and it’s boring, can’t I just go tomorrow?
- I’m hungry and working out on an empty stomach is not good for me
- I need new running shoes because the ones I have are 5 years old and look a mess
- Oh, and fuck it! I forgot my headphones for my phone and I hate working out without music
By this stage your mood is lifting as your conscious mind is starting to cotton on to the fact that rather than a hot, sweaty and painful workout, it really has a nice glass of wine, a pleasant meal and a relaxing evening to look forward to.
Wave the gym bye-bye as you pass by the entrance because tomorrow will do.
I don’t know whether that particular scenario has ever played out for you, but I’m fairly sure that something similar has.
Something that involved you committing to doing something you’d sooner not do and then wanting a way out.
Maybe it wasn’t the gym. It could just as easily have been meditating, eating more healthily or even something as mundane as cleaning out the garage.
And there’s a great reason why so many people end up in situations like this and don’t understand why.
They presume they’re weak-willed, lack discipline or are just downright lazy.
For some people there may be an element of truth, but that’s not the real problem.
How Do I Stay Committed?
The real problem is focus.
In all of the above examples the person has allowed her focus to shift from what she is looking to achieve and all the massive upsides that getting fit will provide, toward short-term discomfort.
Think about all of those excuses.
They’re all designed to avoid the short-term pain of working out.
Not once did she focus on the great feeling that a workout creates with all those lovely beta endorphins flooding her body.
Not once did she think about how great she will feel in 6 months when the workouts start tp yield improved energy levels and a more supple and toned body.
And not once did she consider the way working out will increase stamina and lower her stress levels, thus helping her cope with the bad days much more easily.
And therein lies the key to staying on task. It’s not sheer bloody mindedness or willpower, it’s where you place your focus.
Focus on the big picture, focus on your values and focus on what will give you long-term happiness if you want to stay on task.