Recently I have had a few setbacks. I have an ongoing health issue and I got back some blood tests and they were not very good. Also I gained some weight. I’m on a nutrition and fitness program and the news wasn’t good so I spent quite a while just feeling like it is so difficult to do what I’m trying to do.
Do you ever have that feeling where, it just feels like it’s too hard?
I realized this morning while I was out having a run that setbacks are really meaningful experiences for a couple of reasons. When you are trying to change your habits or when you have a goal that you’re trying to meet or a long-term problem that you’re trying to solve like my health issue, and you get a setback, you realize how reliant you are on some kind of external feedback. We know from research that when people are trying to change a habit or do something different over the long term in their life, they need some external support. Even if you are really determined inside you, you need some external support so when you get a setback, it is the evidence that shows you it’s not working and I think we’ve got a couple of choices when that happens.
- You can whine and moan like I did thinking its too hard, and I want to give up on all this stuff OR
- You can whine and moan first (because sometimes we just do that) and then realize that the setback is actually loaded with good information. I want to look at these blood tests and look at what I’m doing and look at what happened and what I was doing when my blood tests were better, is there some kind of correlation? No guarantees, but that’s what I could do. And also the fact that I kind of strayed off my nutrition program and my exercise plan, what is that telling me about my motivation? So these are two things that are external pieces of information that I can take in and I realized both of these things were telling me that my motivation was dipping.
Now, I want to look at some options and some ways of re-motivating myself because I was succeeding before so there’s no reason why I can’t succeed now.
So two strategies for doing that,
1) Get some external support.
We know that the setback from the outside made us feel bad. Who can be supportive to you? I’m not really keen personally on asking people if they will give me positive feedback, so what I’m going to do is look for external evidence that is going to show me that I’m on an off track. A few examples for me are the weighing scale and how fit I feel when I’m running. Those are very helpful.
2) Why is this important to you?
Remember why you’re doing this. What goal are you trying to accomplish as you’re doing this and what problem are you trying to solve or get away from? And make sure you do it in visual. We know that if you can see your goal and you can see the problem you want to get away from, chances are you are going to be more motivated and that’s how you can use setbacks to your advantage.
So once you get over whining and feeling sorry for yourself, which a lot of us do, me for example, then you can look at those two options.
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