Exercise // Thinker: Goal Discovery ("discovery" replaces "setting")

"I want to lose weight," says 88 out of every 100 people that join a gym (but, really, any oft-stated exercise goal will do here).

"Great!" I tend to reply. "How much weight would you like to lose?"

"Well, probably like (insert number here) pounds."

The number, in some sense, doesn't really matter.

"Cool," I respond, coyly. "I hope I'm not overstepping here - what would losing that weight do for you? How might it affect your life in a positive way?"

"Well, it would help me feel better day-to-day and do more of the things that I like to do."

I take it a step further: "That sounds great. Like, what?"

Here are some of the actual responses I have heard, occasionally after some deeper inquiry:

  • "Go out on more dates." (and make meaningful romantic connections)

  • "Be able to play with my grandkids again." (and be a more useful parent / grandparent)

  • "Participate in more neighbourhood and group activities." (and feel like a meaningful, contributing component of a larger community)

  • "Just live a longer, better life and be able to better support my daughter who has special needs." (and fulfill a most sacred duty)

The discovery of your real exercise goal creates meaning in your effort. Once you understand that meaning, motivation is no longer a factor. It gives way to a natural commitment - a long-term, deeper connection to your exercise that is now a part of you.

To borrow from Proust, your discovery of exercise can now be seen with new eyes. Really, I see it as a process of self-discovery.

This is the foundation for real, long-term (exercise) progress.

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