By Brent Moore, CSCS
Everybody who comes into the gym has a goal in mind when they first join. Some people want to lose weight, some people want to gain muscle, most people want to burn fat while gaining muscle, and some people want to perform better at a given activity. Most people come in with a high level of motivation and want to give it their all in the gym. After some time, everybody’s motivation starts to run low. Some people last longer than others from a motivational standpoint, but everybody loses motivation at some point. The people who reach their goals are the ones who are able to renew their motivation after it runs out. This is definitely easier if your level of motivation stays high longer, because you are more likely to see the benefits which can help to renew the motivation. What do you do if your motivation runs out early in the push for change? We have all known the person who sets a goal with extreme enthusiasm only to give up in just a couple days. How does this person stop this from happening? The answer lies in the vision.
When you set a goal, you typically have some vision in your head of what it looks like when you accomplish that goal. It does not matter if it is a physical goal, mental goal, or professional goal. When you make it, you can see the person that you are once that goal is accomplished. This is often part of the motivation for taking the first steps necessary to achieve your goal. Motivation can come very quickly, but it can also disappear just as quickly. Before you take the first step toward a goal, you should make a commitment to achieving that goal. However, just making a commitment will not always keep you moving forward if you have no motivation. Motivation tends to disappear when we lose the vision we had that produced the initial goal.
There are many ways you can help yourself keep the vision of your accomplished goal fresh. Simply writing down the goals with the motivation for them and placing them somewhere that you can revisit them regularly can help keep the motivation renewed. Pictures can be very powerful for people as well. Vision boards are a very common recommendation for keep a person on the right track toward set goals. Placing pictures of the end result that you want to achieve in a place where you will see it regularly in your daily life can be extremely effective as well.
Zig Ziglar once relayed a story about a time when he was out of shape and overweight. He was having a hard time finding the motivation and the picture of what he wanted to accomplish. He even went so far as to encourage his daughter to call him “fat boy” in order to shame himself into losing the weight (Ziglar, 2006). The problem with this is that it created the wrong vision in his head. He kept reaffirming the “fat boy” vision instead of the vision of a fit and healthy Zig. He eventually came across a picture of a man in a jockey underwear ad in a magazine that he felt had a very similar body type to his own, except that the model was fit and trim. Zig Ziglar cut the picture out of the magazine and stuck it on his mirror so that he could see his end goal every day until he accomplished it (Ziglar, 2006). Zig Ziglar remained a healthy weight after achieving his goal until the day he died at the age of 86.
Knowing where you are going is extremely important in reaching a goal. How can you reach your destination if you do not know where it is? Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. At one point in her life, she attempted to swim 26 miles from Catalina Island to the California coast. During her swim, there was extremely thick fog and it was bitterly cold. Eventually she succumbed to the cold and fatigues asking to be pulled into the boat that was travelling beside her for safety. Her mother urged her to continue, but she gave up and was pulled into the boat. She later found out that she was less than a half mile from completing the swim. She stated that if she could have seen the shore, she thinks she could have made it. The loss of sight on her goal is what caused her to fail in achieving it. She later attempted the same swim and the same fog came in, but she accomplished stating that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her head. When she focused on the goal, she could the obstacles did not seem so insurmountable.
Knowing what your goal is and keeping your sights set on that goal is essential to the success of the goal. Taking on a challenge without a clear objective in mind is almost always a guarantee for failure. Likewise, losing sight of the objective is also a common cause of failure. Luckily for all of us, failing in the short term does not automatically mean failing in the long term. If you have lost sight of your goal, pick your head up, open your eyes, and set them back on the end result that you desire. Create a vision of what you want to accomplish and refer back to that vision regularly. You can only reach your destination if you know where you are going.
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Ziglar, Z. (2006). Better than good. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.