18 Sep The Mindset That Will Help You Achieve Your Biggest (Health) Goals And Enjoy The Process Of Doing It
The Mindset That Will Help You Achieve Your Biggest (Health) Goals And Enjoy The Process Of Doing It
If there is something in your life that you are working towards, whether it is weight loss, running a half marathon, graduating from a school program, a competition in sports or otherwise, we at all times worry and feel doubt that we are not going to make it. We get anxious about our success, we lose focus, the journey towards this goal becomes stressful and unpleasant, and ultimately we sometimes fail to reach the goal – not because it was too lofty or difficult, but because the voices in our head made the process too hard to stick to.
Something that is good for us, and that we should enjoy becomes miserable because we get caught in the gap between where we are and where we want to me. It is like sailing from an island towards the horizon and when you reach open water, our efforts become inefficient, filled with worry and anxiety, and the whole thing becomes a big grind. This is The Gap.
When I was in high school I learned a really valuable lesson from a teacher that has taken me over a decade to fully embrace and that would have saved me so much of the problems that come from being in The Gap. A little planning and mindset jujitsu would have saved me so much time, energy and frustration if I was able to able to internalize this life lesson earlier.
So, when I was in high school I can guarantee you that I was pretty irritating to deal with as a student. I was competitive, combative, high-strung and generally anxious about grades, and I fought tooth and nail with every teacher to get the highest possible grade. I have such a vivid memory of the following exchange that it almost shocks me and gives me goosebumps when I think about it because I remember my entire world and mindset being instantly shifted
The exchange came in grade 12 physics. If I remember correctly, I was having an exchange with Mr. King complaining about a grade that I got on a test or a pop quiz that we were reviewing and he looked straight at me and said “you know Alex the first number you get as a grade in my class is going to be a nine, the second number is really up to you. If I were you, I would just focus on learning the material as best you can and try to enjoy it as much as you can”.
In other words, he was basically saying that I was guaranteed to get a 90 in his class, that I should stop complaining and fighting for every little inch. That I should just be focussed on learning the material and not being so stressed and anxious all the time. For some reason or another the idea hit me like a ton of bricks because up until that point I had spent so much energy and so much time focusing on a number – in this case a grade – rather than actually learning the material and being focused on the work that was going to get that grade that would allow me to get into the school I want. When you are in school, it is easy to forget that the grade really represents how well you know the material and how well can you prove it when you are asked some questions about it.
A grade in school is almost entirely a reflection of how good your process is that you use to get towards the said grade. What Mr King was telling me was that I was smart enough, working hard enough, and interested enough so that my actions were mapping towards a 90%. But clearly, he could see that if I could get out of my own way and just focus on learning as much a possible, I would do even better, be less anxious, and a less combative little prick. Instead of focusing on the end goal and the anxiety that comes from THE GAP to get there, he was saying to focus on the process.
This memory has always stuck with me so strongly because it is the first time that I realized that shooting for the end result only, is a treacherous path to take. I learned that when we only focus on the outcome, we are less focused on the process that with achieve said goal, less likely to achieve it, and even if we do, enjoy the journey way less. Life is far to short to not enjoy the goals we are working towards.
This analogy isn’t just good for school. I think it is a perfect analogy for most health goals – or anything for that matter that has a measurable and objective outcome. I hope this episode is going to help you get there with less anxiety, inefficiency, and less of a sensation of grinding and battling uphill towards your destination
Let’s take weight loss for instance: it forms the perfect paradigm for this discussion because it is a really challenging objective, the battle is mostly internal and it is often a journey that is wrought with self-loathing and little enjoyment of the process. It is not something that I have sought to do but even from an outsiders perspective, you can see the internal battle and grind that a patient is going through when they tell you about their goal to lose say 20 lbs. Like my high school example, most people spend more time grading themselves on the report card their scale gives them, rather than on the nutrition, movement, and sleep work that it takes to get there.
Over time, the number on the scale is simply a reflection of your genetics and your process. If you are getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously and in a calorie deficit, minimizing your stress and moving often, meaning that your process is good, the scale will reflect that over the long term. If your process is good, you guarantee that your first number with metaphorically be a “9”. If you are putting in the work that is going to map towards your goal, whether it is weight loss or a race time, and you are patient, your chances of success are all but guaranteed.
And therein lies the magnificence of this mindset. When you don’t have to focus on the scale, or towards the horizon of where you want to go, and can you focus intensely on your daily process, the anxiety, worry and frustration that is magnified in The Gap is nearly eliminated
The mindset of mapping your daily process to your end goals and only evaluating yourself on your actions and process is a way to achieve your goals faster, more efficiently and with less grinding.
To be completely honest, this is a daily challenge for me. As a naturally more anxious person, I tend to think and worry about the future. I find myself getting stuck in The Gap between now and the big goals. I have to constantly remind myself that 1) Be patient 2) Daily process and 3) You are on track and that your actions are mapping towards your goals.
Whether it is a health goal or anything big in your life, this mindset is simply the better choice, however, challenging it is to reconfigure your mindset in the short-term
Even if you look at a lofty goal like completing a marathon through this lens, the task is much less mentally challenging. It is easier to get lost in the gap between not being able to run more than a few kilometres and powering your body through 42km plus. But, when
you are patient and can break it down into a day-to-day process with a simple series of steps.
It starts with a series of steps: short to increasingly longer runs, days with core and strength training, regular days for recovery and manual therapy. Checking the boxes will all but guarantee you succeed and you will eventually cross the finish line if you are patient and hungry enough. Looking at a day of nutrition, movement and recovery checkboxes is much easier and more practical than focusing on the far-off circle on the calendar.
Obviously, the huge caveat to this is that your actual process is good. If you are off course from the beginning, it becomes more difficult, though not impossible to right the ship in the correct direction. If you honestly have the knowledge to work backwards from your big goals and identify what the steps and requirements for your process should be to get there – amazing – you can do it yourself. But please do not lie to yourself if you don’t as you will only waste your time, money and energy.
As I will talk about in next week’s podcast, it is almost always best to stand on the shoulders of giants rather than trying to climb up yourself. A mentor, coach or someone that is knowledgeable about what you are trying to do and that can show you the steps that will map towards achieving your goals so much faster and less with frustration. Someone that can lay out the process and framework for you is simply invaluable.
I see this all the time in healthcare where a prospective patient has failed to achieve their goals because they either tried to do it themselves without the requisite knowledge for success or were embattled by frustration by getting stuck in The Gap. If you specifically need some help with your health and the process to improve it, I would recommend you check out the three amazing FREE health curriculum E-books we have for download in the show notes. They will show you the strategies to Eat, Move And Recovery that are required for optimal health.
Once you get your process refined, whether it is your health in general or some specific health goal, the lesson from Mr King that I would try to remind myself each and every morning is that “I am on track” and “that the first number is going to be a 9”. If you have set your goal, you have figured out what it takes to get there, you know what you have to do each day as part of your process, and you are executing that process – that your actions are going to map you to where you want to go – you are all but guaranteed to be successful in getting their. If you can establish your routines that make up your process, there should be very little room for anxiety or self-doubt and I imagine it will open you up to enjoying the process of what you are doing and the journey of getting there a lot more.
On the days that you deviate from your process, or fail to execute it, you know that you are just one day away from getting back on the track that will take you to where you want to go. The first number is going to be a 9 if your process is good.