As we head into the new year we naturally begin doing two mental exercises; we review our past year of accomplishments, and we forecast our upcoming year. Some may call it “Goal Setting,” but the majority call them “Resolutions.” Regardless of what you may call it, we all do it. Some may be grand, others may be small and manageable, hopefully a few stick and last a few months, if we’re lucky then one may arrive at the finish line 12 months later. Either way you slice it, when the dust settles and the New Year is upon us, we hopefully are rejuvenated and ready with our clean slate. This month’s blog is not about what you write on that blank slate, this blog is actually not even about goal-setting or resolutions (pause for reader’s gasp…), instead this blog is about what we forget to ask ourselves every New Year, the really tough question that is awfully messy, sometime emotional, but oh so worth the mental strain.
The question we are going after is “Why?” Why are we setting the goals we are setting. Why are we going to write down that arbitrary number (whether it be income, body weight, or otherwise)? Were you expecting something more eloquent than “Why”? Most likely. But I’m betting you are getting a bit uneasy as to why this question has always been forgotten. Your mind might already be jumping a few steps ahead as to why you do anything that you do. Don’t worry though, we will take this step by step. Let’s dig in shall we?
First let’s actually take an actual goal you create. So think of one you’d like to have, let’s go with the most common goal in our fitness industry; say a body weight or composition goal. You want to lose ____ lbs. Or you want to get down to ___% body fat percentage….I caught you didn’t I? You allowed us to jump to our old habits and create floating arbitrary goals, you most likely filled in a number, or maybe you corrected me and filled in an entirely different goal...but I’m betting you fell for it. It’s so easy to sit there and grab at random numbers, random goals that we like the sound of, or even worse that others have chosen so we want them also. Ok, no more games, let’s begin with the actual first step.
I want you to close your eyes and breathe slowly. I want you to imagine how you want to feel in one year. Now be realistic of course, but how do you want to feel? Do you want to feel more powerful? More accomplished? More fulfilled? Do you want to feel humbled with how your kids look up to you? Do you want to feel successful? The goal here is to tie into your emotions, we are emotional beings, goals are great, but it’s the emotional response that we yearn for. Now that you have that feeling, that deeply rooted feeling, let’s continue with how we get there.
Second step; now I want you to hang onto that emotion, and move into the present tense. We are one year into the future, you have achieved this feeling; what did you do to gain that emotion? What’s crazy about this step is that you’ll find most of your goals have become silly and arbitrary. Chances are, no body fat percentage number led you here. That feeling of fulfillment, that emotion of humility, how did you get here? To be honest, for some it may not even be related to fitness. There is a good chance that this emotion was the result of habits. That feeling of pride in being able to chase your kids around and even beat them in foot races, that feeling of being able to stay healthy for your family, that feeling...is your "WHY". It’s powerful, and when tied to your goals it becomes bulletproof. That combination of emotion and the reason for that emotion is what we are going to build upon.
Third step is to go forward and think what it would take to achieve that emotion/feeling. In order for you to feel that pride in yourself once you finish that 5k run with your family, or to be able to jump in the pool with your kids and not feel insecure...what did it take to get you here? Would it take three days a week of CrossFit? Would it take six perfect days of eating with one earned-cheat-day? Here you stand with that goal accomplished, with that beaming sense of (blank) in your heart, and looking back; what did you do on a day-to-day level to get here? Was it skipping on dessert during weekdays? Maybe it was pushing for attending a fourth class of CrossFit every single week. If it was work-related, maybe it was making ten more phone calls per day. Get honest with yourself, and think of what it takes to get that emotion.
Finally, what we have now done is most likely tied a habit to an emotional goal. Why is this so important going into the New Year you may ask? Well it’s because as I said before we are emotional beings, and when chasing an arbitrary number like body weight vs an emotion like empowerment, we will cheat on arbitrary goals, but feel emotionally invested to a higher goal. When the urge to sleep in meets a shallow goal like bikini season, it is likely to win because you have more time to accomplish it, you will begin negotiating with yourself; however when that same urge comes knocking and you’re faced with sleeping in or thinking of that emotion of making your spouse proud of you...now we’re getting somewhere. I have always been tied to objective goals and this is no different. You are still being asked to follow objective steps that cannot be negotiated with, the only thing we are doing now is working backwards from an emotional goal, and tying objective steps to that goal. Ladies and Gentlemen we are emotional beings (that’s the third time I’ve said it), that fact will not change. Our emotions control everything we do even when we don’t want it to be the case. This is often viewed as a crutch and seen as a weakness, but what if we used those emotions to fuel our daily activities? What if a daily/weekly habit, rather than tied to a random number, was in fact tied to this ever-powerful part of our being? This is an opportunity to begin 2020 charged with emotion, sit down, take a minute and deconstruct how you feel, why you feel that way, and see what you can do to achieve a feeling you’ve never had before.
Happy New Year,