How to Make Tangible Goals Out of the Intangible

Setting goals is hard, especially when it comes to fitness.  Unless you are a competitive athlete trying to make weight, break a record or win in your sport, it can feel like making something materialize from thin air.

One of my clients is working through this right now.  She knows she wants to feel and see changes in her self.  But what exactly does she want to see and feel? A certain number when she stands on a scale?  The feel of a bit more room in her jeans?  The sense of strength of picking up a weight she never thought she could?

Thinking it might help, I sent her the Spitfire goal worksheet.  After working with it a bit, she wrote a post on her blog about it.  From reading her blog post, I realized that I have left something off the worksheet or just left it vague.  What makes us want to have or do something?

In striving for an Olympic gold medal, an athlete may seek to push the boundaries of human potential, love from family, fame and fortune maybe even enlightenment.  Fear can also move us though it is about moving away from something than towards something.  I am sure there are Olympic athletes that train and compete to avoid shame, guilt and pain.

I believe Love is the ultimate motivator. Without getting too woo woo, I’ll just say that we humans accomplish tremendous things for the Love of a person or Love of the Divine.  You might run a little faster when you know the person you have a crush on is watching.  You might work extra hard to drop two clothing sizes for your wedding.  You might choose to practice yoga everyday for a month to deepen your connection with the Divine.

So whose Love is your goal for?  What do you want to do or have for them? Do you want more strength to protect your kids?  Do you want to lose weight for your honey or potential honey?  Do you want to learn to change your nutrition for the health of your family?  Do you want to run a 5k to feel a sense of accomplishment and self-Love?

Exploring why you want to do or have something makes creating tangible goals out of nothing much easier. When I was a kid, I worked on my jump shot in basketball every afternoon, because I wanted to be a Harlem Globetrotter and loved by fans.  I practiced my camel turn on roller skates, because I wanted a handsome prince to see me perform in an ice-skating show and fall madly in love with me (I blame Disney for that one.).  I concentrated on trying to levitate objects with my mind to gain Jedi powers and experience the flow of the Force in, through and around me.  I was crystal clear what I wanted, why and for whom.

Let Love lead you to your goal.

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Secure Your Own Mask First

American Airlines 757 1

Image by aomd88 via Flickr

The kid was panicking and trying to use me to climb to higher ground.  The water was too deep for me to have any foothold.  Before I could catch a breath, the kid would push my head under the water.

I loved the swimming hole near my uncle’s house in Arkansas.  It was cool, deep and really clear.  At some point, while just a few of us kids were swimming, I found myself holding onto a kid that was younger than me and didn’t swim too well.

I was only 9 or 10, but I knew the kid would drown me, if I didn’t get away.  Don’t ask me how I figured out what to do next.  I just knew that if I didn’t make it, neither of us would. When I was able to steal a deep breath, I went feet first under the water.  The kid, not wanting to go with me, let go.

I found a way to push off the bottom with my feet and give the kid little shoves toward the shore.  Fortunately, I was a strong swimmer and regularly practiced swimming as far as I could on one breath.  We both made it with little damage, except bellies full of water.

Yes, I did go on to work as a lifeguard.  One of the first things you learn in lifeguard training is to protect yourself from the person you are trying to save.

A metaphor from the airline safety speech that I often find myself referring to with my clients, who are parents, is, “Secure an oxygen mask on yourself first before you try to help someone else.” Every day, things come up in a parent’s life that can prevent her or him from sticking to a fitness routine.  Parents would do anything for their kids.  So often though, I see clients, who are moms, sacrifice their fitness time because something comes up with the kids. Given the stress that families experience day-to-day, this can easily become a habit.  Parents can find themselves drowning in their kids’ schedules or the wind knocked out of them by family problems.

I think that so many women understand this now. Moms are taking over the gyms from the body builders, especially in the mornings, when kids are in school or day care.  Most of the yoga classes I go to are filled with women.  While I lead my outdoor camps, I see groups of women running or walking together.  They understand that the health of their families is dependent on their own health and well being.

Because they have a fitness practice, these women stay healthier for their families. When they catch some illness that’s made its way through the family, they bounce back quicker.  During stressful times, they are better able to manage.  They make healthier meal choices for their families because they understand and feel the difference when they eat right.  They also set an great example for their kids.

It’s difficult for me, even as a trainer and single person, to prioritize physical activity sometimes.  I cannot say I truly know how hard it is for parents.  That is why I so admire anyone, who is a parent and makes time for their own health, fitness and well being.  You are the saviors of your families.

  • Has fitness helped you be more available to your family?
  • Has your practice helped you manage stressful family situations?
  • How has your own fitness program affected your family’s health?
  • What tips for other parents do you have about managing time for a fitness or training program?

Please leave a comment below.

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