How do you find motivation if you aren’t competing at something? Is it possible to still set goals and establish progress when you don’t care about weight lifted or where your score ranks on the whiteboard?
How does “fit for life” or “look good naked” translate into real, measurable, results?
It’s one of the most common questions we get on social media.
Yes, transitioning out of the competitive lifestyle can be tough. But maintaining motivation, setting and smashing new goals is possible no matter your age, lifestyle or current fitness level. In fact, it’s easier than you think.
Step 1: Establish a Why
This is Step 1 and, for a lot of us, a key aspect that was totally overlooked when we began our fitness journey.
Take a step back and ask yourself: Why are you doing what you doing? What brought you into the gym (or garage) in the first place? And, most importantly, what keeps you coming back? Was it to be able to pick your grandchildren? To shed that extra weight? Or was it to qualify for nationals, squat 500 lb. or snatch your bodyweight?
Goals can (and should) change over time. We are constantly growing and moving in and out of certain periods of our life.
It’s incredibly important to assess where YOU are at. Maybe the competitive CrossFit life is something you really want to pursue for a few years. Or maybe it’s something that just kind of got thrown on you because your friends were doing it and it makes you look cool.
It’s paramount with goal setting to figure out intent. If you aren’t doing things for the right reasons, you’ll never be truly satisfied when you hit a goal. It’s not about what other people are doing, lifting or working towards. It’s about YOU.
Step 2: Treat Your Goal(s) As A Priority
I see it all the time. Regular gym-goers thinking their training isn’t as important as other people. Just getting to the gym three times a week is just as admirable, and tangible of a goal, as setting a new state record or qualifying for the American Open Finals.
“Say you built a relationship with someone who works out in a garage, and we figure out one of their key goals is consistency. It’s not sexy and not marketable so people don’t discuss it. It’s still a goal,” said OPEX founder James Fitzgerald.
“If that’s the goal, where are you right now? Does [where you are] go back to that principle [of staying consistent]? What are your capabilities? What behaviors have you shown that you can be consistent? Let’s work on that. Let’s figure out what resources you need to stay consistent.”
Goals are not limited to the best or for competitiors-only. Find out what makes you tick —again, this goes back to your why— and be specific.
Maybe “be consistent” is the ultimate goal, but that looks different for different people. Maybe five workouts a week isn’t feasible for your lifestyle, but three is. Having that number in mind, whether it’s days of training or minutes you can devote to being active, is critical to goal-setting success.
Step 3: Find a Coach (or Community) You Trust
Obviously, having a one-on-one coach to discuss your intent, what you hope to accomplish from fitness and how to get there would be the optimal solution to staying on track. (The same goes for nutrition-based goals.)
And if you’re looking to compete at the upper levels of functional fitness, it’s really not up for debate. Spend the money, immerse yourself in information and gain every imaginable edge.
But not everyone can afford a personal coach or expensive gym membership. Fortunately, programs like Street Parking are popping up to help bridge the gap and form a sense of community to keep athletes accountable. (Note that these are not designed for competitive athletes.)
This can be a great option for people who are just starting out, overwhelmed or going through a major transition where just getting to the gym or their garage, is a win. To truly benefit from this though, you have to go back to Step 1. Joining an online program, or even hiring a coach, just to compare yourself to other athletes you see on the Internet is not only counter-productive, it can be damaging to your pysche. (Read more on social media’s dark side here.)
Other cheap ways to stay motivated? Journaling, writing down and displaying goals in a place where you’ll see them daily and coming up a mantra that reminds you of your why.
Step 4: Make Sure The Plan Is Feasible
Knowing your why is important, but knowing how to get there is another major key. Lots of people say they want to break records or go to Olympics. Few do. Once you know what your goals are write down what it entails and make sure you can get there, so it’s not a fantasy.
If working out three times a week is your goal, does that mean you have to get babysitter? Pack your gym bag that morning for the day? How much time will you need? What equipment? Sorting through those details eliminate excuses down the line and keeps you consistent!
“Keep yourself honest and figure out how far you are away [from your goals] and what your direction and path looks like so it becomes a reality,” Fitzgerald said. “You may need to test and re-test here. Instead of saying, ‘I want to qualify for this or not miss a day ever’ and than six months later shit hits the fan because you didn’t have a plan. Goal setting allows this honest perspective that you can’t turn your back on.”