We’ve all experienced failure and success with our goals. We can go through a rollercoaster of emotions when we’re working towards something that matters to us. As a therapist, a core part of my work is supporting my clients in identifying and achieving their goals. I share in their successes and the challenges. I also go through this myself, as a fellow human, in the pursuit of my own goals.

This blog is something different for me. Rather than sharing information and wellbeing tips, I’m going to share my personal experience of working towards a goal – my own failure and success with my current goal, the challenges, the barriers, the hard work that goes into it, and the framework I use to push through all the resistance! I’m going to share my struggle trying to achieve hard things because it’s something we all go through.

 

Mark Victor Hansen, Quote on GoalsGoal Setting: Identify The Problem

My personal goal is to be fit and strong. I am prone to back pain and I know that having a strong core is important in managing this. The problem is that I hate exercise. Even as a total ‘keener’ at school, I would skive of PE. It was the only time I ever got detention. Perhaps hating exercise is a little strong and exaggerated because I actually really enjoy walking and yoga. But unfortunately for me, this gentler exercise isn’t enough. I’m having to accept that the kind of exercise I need involves pushing myself, ‘feeling the burn’ and dealing with not being able to do something. Those are things I find really difficult and so whenever I have started, I’ve always given up.

So, I’m setting myself a little experiment: can I get myself into an exercise routine and sustain it?

 

Building Motivation: Be Honest with Yourself

I’ve had some firm words with myself and have used the very same framework (Go Get Your Goals) that I share with you to set and work towards this goal. In going through this process, I could admit to myself that I’m not really motivated by being fit and strong. I don’t care about muscle definition, having a beach body, or even running up the stairs without panting. Those things would all be nice, but I’m not driven by them. What I do care about is pain. Through giving this some real thought, I’ve come to realise that the pain bothering me is both physical and emotional. And the latter probably bothers me the most. When I am in physical pain, I give myself a really hard time for not having done more to prevent it and so I then self-inflict emotional pain through shaming myself.

 

Self-Talk: Balance Self-Criticism and Tough Love

One of the amazing things about my work is having a wealth of tools, skills and knowledge about mental health and wellbeing. One of the hard things is consistently applying this! And when I fail to apply this, I can feel that squirming sense of shame attached to lashings of self-criticism. It doesn’t feel like I’m just letting myself down. It feels like I’m letting all of you down too by not being completely authentic and showing myself the same care that I encourage you all to show yourselves.

Rather than wallow in this self-criticism, I can focus on the truth in this – I’m not doing enough to help myself. By acknowledging this, rather than beat myself up some more, I can swallow a hard truth and make the choice to do something about it.

 

Think less, Do More: Follow an Action Plan

Confucius Quote on GoalsI’ve tried and failed to get into an exercise routine many times. By working through my own structured goal-setting framework, it became very clear to me that while my goal is to be fit and strong, my motivator is to be authentic. This means a lot to me. Applying knowledge, taking care of myself, challenging myself to do difficult things and develop is important to me. And this is what motivates me to exercise. Knowing this enabled me to make a solid plan.

I’m not embarrassed to share that I started very small – just 10-minutes of exercise each day. I then built this up to half an hour, split up into 5-minutes of exercise between each of my clients during the week to break up long periods of sitting. I then built in a weekly gym class on top of this. And then a second. That’s where I am currently. Now I need to sustain this!

 

The Excuses: Get out of Your own Way

I won’t pretend I enjoy the gym. I don’t. There is still resistance –  even in this very moment as I write this, knowing that I have a gym class to get to shortly. By noting the excuses I’ve made, I’ve been able to counter or solve each of them. For ‘I don’t have any gym clothes,’ I pulled out my decorating t-shirt and leggings.  I might not be rocking up in trendy yoga pants and a matching cropped top but I am rocking up. For, “I don’t have time, I have too much to do…” I rejigged my diary to finish work slightly earlier, started batch-cooking and meal-prepping, and chunked all the housework so it’s spread across the week and feels more manageable.

The biggest excuse, without a doubt, is simply ‘I don’t want to, it’s hard.’ I have to keep remind myself that doing hard things is part of developing ourselves to be our best which is important to me. I remind myself why I am doing this and what I stand to gain. I will essentially feel like a better person for pushing through the resistance and doing this!

 

 The Support & Reward Systems: Keep Accountable

It’s important to share that I am not doing this alone. I have a lot of encouragement and support from my family and friends, including a gym buddy. I also have a list of things that I can reward myself with for hitting my goals – like booking a massage at the end of the month. This way, I know that there are shorter-term gains to pushing through the resistance than the end goal of core strength which will take longer to achieve.

By involving others in my goal and my plan, I keep myself accountable to them. Through sharing this blog, I keep myself accountable to you as well. From using my own self-help resource for goals, and sharing both the struggles and the progress, I am keeping authentic by practicing what I preach – and you know now how important that is to me!

 

Closing Note

We can do hard things. The toughest thing to overcome is our own resistance, our blocking beliefs and our avoidance of discomfort. But if we can be honest with ourselves about what those barriers are and what truly motivates us (not what we think should motivate us), we can start to take steps towards the things that really matter. We can then, eventually, gain the satisfaction of achieving our goals. Sometimes we need a helping hand to get started, and in this case I have very much needed my own helping hand to practice what  I preach! Give it a go yourself, try out the Go Get Your Goals booklet!

If you work with me, you are very welcome to ask me how it’s going. I imagine that even the prospect of being asked will motivate me to keep going!