Being Motivated by the Why

author : alicefoeller
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Blind obedience to a goal? Or the bliss of feeling the way you want?

When I think back on the year when I trained for and completed an iron-distance triathlon, I appreciate my body's ability to have accomplished the feat. I appreciate how I looked. But the best thing about that time period was how I FELT.

I felt full of energy.
I felt amazing and happy.

If someone at work saw me in the hallway and gave the obligatory, "Hi, how are you?" I would respond, "GREAT!!!!"

Lately, as I've been going hard after goals in other areas of my life (such as debt elimination and company growth) I've been reading and reflecting on the pursuit of goals. I grew up very obedient and did most everything because someone expected it of me, or someone told me I was supposed to. So it's been easy to set goals and accomplish them in a straitjacket way.

As I've aged and been freed up from some of the expectations of others, I've begun to have a harder time keeping my nose to the grindstone, although my mental state is improved and I'm far less anxious.

I seek to remain less anxious, but still accomplish much in my living of a good life. Recently I've been working on creating goals based around how I want to feel. (See last month's article about the book that inspired this change of attitude.)

So instead of setting a goal to earn a certain amount of money this year, I would focus on wanting to feel free of financial worry, empowered to provide for my family, and relaxed about paying the bills. Rather than dragging myself along in pursuit of a goal I "should" be working on, instead I focus on the feeling I want to have, and how great it will feel when I do the things I need to do, so that I will feel free and relaxed.

It's not rocket science, but it translates well to triathlon training. I once read a thread in the forum back in 2010, asking what was behind training for a big, long-course goal, for many of us. At the time I had to admit that it had a lot to do with appearances. I wanted to say I was an Ironman. I had told many people I was training for it, and I certainly wasn't going to admit failure to my friends and family. I wanted to prove wrong those kids who picked me last in gym class. None of those are uplifting feelings. They are based more in people-pleasing, guilt, and trying to prove something.

This new focus has me remembering how great I felt that year -- how energized and vital. And I want to feel that way again. That's what gets me out the door in the morning when I think I'm too busy for a run or a bike session. It's a good reminder that feelings light up different parts of our brain and get us excited. 

So if you're having trouble finding that fire in the belly, or if you have the fire, but you think it might be burning your spirit to a crisp, take a look at the feelings you want to have when you cross the finish line, or simply when you finish a workout. Make that your goal.


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date: August 31, 2016


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.

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