Monday, August 11, 2014

motivation monday: will this help me get to my goal?

everyday we have to make small choices that can either immediately impact our ability to be successful, or over time, impact our ability to be successful. it's usually easy to spot the decisions that will have immediate consequences, good or bad; if i choose to run on my injured foot, i'm likely not going to be able to run in the race tomorrow, or if i go out and have five drinks the night before a race i probably won't feel great while running the next day. but i think it's the smaller decisions, the ones that seem harmless in the short term, but add up over time, that are hard to identify as potential goal inhibitors.

i've been thinking about different ways to help myself stay on track to reach my goals. how can i stay motivated to get up and workout in the morning? or even get that workout in after work? how can i stop myself from having that extra handful of popcorn or chocolate or limit my soda intake? it's not easy when i can't see how each of these decisions add up over time. sure, an extra handful of chocolate one day isn't bad, but what if i do that every other day for a week? that one extra handful is now 3-4 extra handfuls and that adds up. the same goes with missing one workout but workouts are a little easier to keep track of compared to the little extra handfuls of food we can eat throughout the day. 

i've been trying to figure out a way that will help me get back to racing weight without being super obsessive and micro managing what i'm eating. one day last week, i was faced with one of those common decisions we all can face on a daily basis (granted it was not about losing weight or working out). i have been feeling incredibly tired for the past month and it was 2pm (that all too common afternoon energy crash time) and i was about to reach for a second cup of coffee to try and make it through the work day. note, i have been only drinking decaf since getting off the LEAP diet, and i was considering doing full caffeine at this point. i stopped and asked myself, "alicia, will this second cup of coffee help you sleep better tonight?" while it might have helped perk me up in the short term, i knew that the second cup of coffee would keep me from falling asleep that night and thus ultimately leave me feeling more groggy the next day. focusing on that decision, in that moment and it's impact on what i'm trying to achieve made the decision easy. i didn't have that cup of coffee.

i realized, though, if i slowed down and asked myself this question for every decision i needed to make, i would likely make a different decision than if i had acted impulsively on my short term wants, versus long term needs. the idea is so simple, but it works. if i ask myself the question, "will this get me closer to my goals" for each decision i have to make, i will ultimately end up making a better decision because i really have to think about the impact the micro decisions i make add up in the long haul. and if you focus on "yes" or "no" as your only possible answers, it will help you prevent yourself from making a convincing argument that might lean in favor of short term wants.


this isn't a new concept, but it is one i have overlooked for a long time. we can be so driven by immediate satisfaction, short term gratification, that we can impulsively make decisions without even thinking about how they will impact us overall and what we are trying to achieve.

will sitting on the couch after work for the 2nd day in a row help me get in better shape for my 5k goals? no, probably not.

will this extra helping of chips help me get back down to my racing weight? nope, not this week. 

will this fancy adult beverage take the edge off a long week? yes, of course, you deserve it. will i be glad i had it in the morning? well no, probably not. so do i really need it? no, not really. 

should i take the stairs today? no, i don't want to. will it kill me to take the stairs? no, likely not. am i just being lazy? yes, take the stairs.

i think we need to have better and more conversations with ourselves to stay on track. ask yourself questions when faced with a decision that you are struggling with or when you are prone to making a decision that gets you off track. i'm going to try this method over the course of the next few months to see if it really does help me stay on course to reach my goals. it's helped me make better decisions so far; i can't imagine it won't help long term!


how do you stay on track to reach your goals? what helps you when you're torn between instant gratification and holding out for long term success? do you talk to yourself and ask yourself questions, like i do? :) 


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