Let me pose a question to you:
Why are you working so hard to improve your health and fitness?
I ended up where I am in this business because I love the buzz I get when a client comes back to me and exclaims any of the following: I don’t have to take my blood pressure medication anymore/My knees don’t hurt/I can’t believe how good I feel!
It’s awesome to be a part of that. But it’s taken me the better part of a decade to figure out that helping people feel better is why I stay up at night poring over research papers or writing three different programs to make sure one will work. I’m doing those things because I want each client to get the best program, with the most up to date information and most efficient approach possible. I want you to get better, fast, and to help you find a way to do it that works for you.
Finding what works for you is the key component of creating a successful program. That includes setting SMART goals, and creating measurable steps along the path to the ultimate goal so that you can definitively tell that you are making progress. I have operated this way for years, and have had a lot of success with this approach. But inevitably, at some point, progress stalls and clients plateau, and I’m juggling to kick-start their motivation again. Clearly, there is a piece missing.
That piece is Why.
Goals are great, and absolutely necessary to keep you going through the hard work required to change your life and well-being. But even the best goals aren’t always enough to take you all the way. Here is a classic example: I had a client, Bryan, who came to me for help with training to run a marathon. His two best friends had started running a few years before, and had started running races not long after. His running friends had decided to do the Las Vegas marathon, and had invited him along to hang out. Bryan decided he’d like to run the marathon with his friends, but needed to get training right away. A marathon is a classic SMART goal: You have a set date by which you have to be capable of a certain measurable thing, and you can prepare for this by taking the right steps at the right times.
Bryan’s preferred training time was early morning, before work. He was going really well for quite some time, making great progress with increased running distances and appropriately incorporating strength training and recovery activities. About two-thirds of the way through his training program, it started getting harder and harder to continue those early morning training runs. After spending some time discussing how he felt the training plan was going overall, we turned back to the ultimate goal: Finishing the marathon with his friends. Bryan was confident that he could run the whole way, but he wasn’t sure he could keep the pace with his friends, and the thought of getting left behind was a huge turn-off.
This was a lightbulb moment: Running the marathon wasn’t about running a marathon. It was about having an equal part in an amazing experience with two of his closest friends. A couple small tweaks to the training program to help his speed, and he was pumped to be running again. He was getting up even earlier to make sure he warmed up well before his training runs. His times dropped a little and his confidence and excitement skyrocketed. When it came to running the marathon, though he had to work for it, he kept pace with his friends and more importantly, had a great time.
Bryan figured out why he wanted to run.
Bryan’s why wasn’t the hardest to figure out, and each of us has our own reasons behind the “whats and hows” of our goals. Figuring out these “whys” out can be a time-and-thought-consuming process, and in my experience, there can be several false starts as you make your way through the many reasons that make up your motivation. You don’t ever have to share them, but knowing them yourself is powerful: There is no stronger inspiration than your deepest desires.
So, what’s your why?