The second instalment of our 2 part blog on why you might not be reaching your goals….
4) You’re being too hard on yourself – A common mistake many of us make when approaching new goals is adopting an ‘all or nothing mindset’, whereby we think we must be constantly taking steps towards our goal at all times and we leave no room for mistakes or ‘off days/weeks’. Expecting the path to be linear and progress to be constant often leaves us feeling disappointed in ourselves, like we have failed and we may start to criticise ourselves for our lack of willpower compared to other people who seem to achieve the goals we want for ourselves so effortlessly. The truth is, anyone who has ever achieved a goal will have experienced failures, setbacks and unexpected obstacles along the way. The key to still maintaining progress is to EXPECT and ACCEPT these hiccups and to carry on regardless. We should tell ourselves that these things happen, life is unpredictable, we have so many priorities and responsibilities that our goals can’t always come top of the list of demands. What many of us do when we overeat/ skip training or fail to meet the standards we’ve hoped for in any area is that we assume we have ‘messed up’ and ‘failed’ at the goal and therefore rather than just seeing it as a blip or a ‘bad day’, we throw the towel in altogether and chalk it up as just another failed attempt at our eternal goals. If you get a flat tyre on your car, you wouldn’t dream of puncturing the other 3 as that would be so much more difficult and costly to fix. You should treat any setbacks to your goal in the same way!
5) You’re not being hard ENOUGH on yourself – I”m sure we all know people who are relentless in their pursuit of something and always seem to have the energy for it – whether that’s exercising, doing fun and creative tasks with their children when they’d much rather have a quiet day, constantly making sure their house is tidy and in order and so on. These people will undoubtedly regularly get asked ‘where do you find the motivation?!’ and whilst they may be motivated by many factors, what they more than likely also have is DISCIPLINE in place for when motivation is lacking. If we only complete certain tasks or activities when we feel highly energised and motivated, our achievements with them are going to be variable at best, as motivation is eternally changing and therefore our progress towards goals will be too ‘hit and miss’. Quite often, action precedes motivation and so discipline is essential if we are ever to make progress towards our goals. Yes, you might be tired/ not know where to start/ can always start next week – but every now and again we may need to remind ourselves that us and us only are responsible for our actions and progress. If nothing changes, nothing changes and so sometimes we have to do something we don’t feel like doing to get the feeling of accomplishment that we so desire.
6) Last but not least… You’re aiming too high, too soon – As personal trainers, we so often see people deciding they will make huge life changes by overhauling everything at once. They hire a PT, sign up to a class at the gym every single day, get rid of any tempting snacks from the house and pledge no takeaways/bread/chocolate/ insert arbitrary food here that does not alone lead to weight gain and therefore eliminating it completely is unnecessary for weight loss. They drag themselves to the gym every day at 6am, becoming increasingly more aching and sore as the first week goes on. They long for a chocolate bar or takeaway to give them much needed energy and comfort but they resist and continue to push themselves to their limits in the pursuit of their goal. By the end of the first week they’re exhausted, miserable from saying no to social events that would hinder their plan and to make it worse they’ve only lost 1lb of scale weight. Where can they go from here? What else could they possibly give up and how on earth could they possibly exercise more!? Their enthusiasm and commitment gradually reduces week by week until suddenly you no longer see their faces in the gym and they’re proclaiming they’ve tried extreme dieting and exercise and it ‘just doesn’t work’ for them. The best approach to any big goals or life changes is to take one small step at a time, master each one in turn and get consistent with that before increasing your efforts. Examples could be starting by changing your snacks but leaving meals the same, it could be starting going for walks before you try jogging or simply choosing healthier alternatives from your local takeaway. With each step we achieve – no matter how small – our confidence, motivation and self-belief grows and we gradually build a solid foundation from which we can go on to achieve whatever we set our mind to. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, as the saying goes. You can’t fit a whole elephant in your mouth at once and the same principle applies to our goals. If we’re unhappy with our weight gain/ lack of exercise/ heavy smoking or drinking habits and so on – chances are we didn’t get that way overnight and we certainly won’t miraculously jump to where we want to be in that time either. Give yourself time to master the tiny steps and the huge leaps will happen without you even noticing!
We hope these possible reasons why you might be struggling to reach your goals have given you some food for thought and provided you with some ideas of how to adjust your approach so that you may be much more successful in getting to where you want to be. All whilst being that little bit kinder and more understanding towards yourself in the meantime.
Bev Meadows – Personal Trainer/ Exercise Referral Officer and Complementary Therapist.