How to fall in love with the process on the way to achieving your goals
We are in an moment of mass goal setting, told left, right and centre to challenge ourselves and reach new personal bests. I personally love goal setting; bettering myself by achieving new heights and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The graduation ceremony, the finish line, the looks of adoration from friends, I love it all. The only trouble with this is, I love the goal.
The journey to reaching that point, however, is not so appealing.
I will admit, like so many others, it’s become a habit to fall short on my weekly vow to give up KitKats or wave goodbye to the stack of new years resolutions I optimistically set myself each year.
Can anyone else relate?
Knowing my struggles here, when I found an article on how to guarantee success in reaching your chosen target, I devoured every word with hopes of discovering the secret to self discipline. Will this finally unleash my inner marathon runner?
The article explained how athletes view goals compared to how they view the process of achieving those goals, and what lessons we can take from them. Often when we are setting challenges for ourselves we are too focused on the final result - the bikini ready body or the bestselling novel. A lot of the time when we fall off track, we mistake passion for the goal as motivation. In reality, we are not devoted enough to the steps we must take to get there.
We want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or have a bulging savings account, but we rarely want to get up for a 6am workout or cut back on our weekly budget. Our lack of focus on the less-than-pleasant process can cause us to fall off our plan and stop us from working towards the shiny goal.
So the article suggests we follow the example of athletes. They master the art of creating a goal, making a detailed plan of how to get there, and then entirely forgetting about the goal as they keep their focus on the plan.
While this is all well and good, and I can see how this theory will achieve bikini ready results, the article did not offer any advice on how best to embrace the process and enjoy it a little more. How do I make myself excited for the step-by-step when it’s not something I naturally enjoy doing? How do I change my indulgent habits and stick to them? I was left deflated, pondering these questions.
That is, however, until I stumbled across an antidote to my hatred of the process, in the form of an online yoga challenge, 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene.
I first started Yoga With Adriene after a friend recommended her YouTube channel. I loved the idea of becoming one of those vegan, activewear-clad yogis that headstand their way through life in a bubble of zen. Hmm, does this goal-focused excitement sound familiar?
Nevertheless, I rolled out my mat for the first class and was immediately relieved it was titled: ’Ease Into It’.
Easing in suited me perfectly, thank you very much!
Throughout the 30 days you learn the basic poses of Vinyasa and cover a checklist to embody a healthy practice. It’s not long before you get into a rhythm and spend less time looking at the video as you become familiar with the various poses and their names.
It was on this 30 day journey that I learnt how exactly to embrace and enjoy the process, focus less on the end goal and actually complete the challenge! This is not because of my love of yoga, although I am now completely obsessed, but because of the life lessons Adriene weaves in to her classes. Here are my key takeaways:
Choose your Attitude
As you move in and out of the different poses Adriene talks you through how to correctly position yourself in the healthiest way, and a suggestion for what state of mind or attitude you might like to adopt. This could be a curiosity to see what would happen if you tried a pose differently, or an acceptance of where you are today.
Each morning, actively decide what attitude you will embody for your task. It could be exploration, excitement, presence, trust, amusement, surrender, belief, curiosity, confidence or power. Focus on this feeling and notice any tendency to think negatively. Today you are trusting/amused/exploring your task, not dreading/bored/tired of it.
Find What Feels Good Today
Adriene is aiming for a personalised practice and invites you to venture off on your own, pick-a-mixing your way to a practice that feels right for you. Interpreting poses in your own way means you take responsibility and cater to your specific needs.
How can you customise or be flexible in your task for the day? You are in control, so complete it in a way that suits you best. Can you change up the time of day? Can you do it with a friend, or get a coach to help you through? Perhaps you allow yourself to skip a day, but double up tomorrow. Explore your options and make it work for you.
Throughout the month Adriene weaves in yogic lessons relating to your thoughts. She instructs you to consciously smile, thank yourself for making it to your mat and remove pressuring thoughts to master a new pose.
Use her vocabulary when giving yourself a bit of self talk. She’ll say ‘you’ve got this’ when something is getting tough. Where balance is the focus she reassures you with, ‘if you fall, we will catch you’. She encourages you to venture out of classic shapes and ‘find what feels good’. I encourage you to channel these phrases and allow her instructions to carry you from mat to life.
Mix the Challenging with the Restorative
Her classes are a balanced combination of challenging moves and restorative poses. She fires-up the workout, supporting you with words of encouragement and reliably follows up with a resting pose. The knowledge that it won’t last too long has you embracing the challenge.
So find balance in the tasks. It’s tempting to try and short cut our way to a goal by setting huge tasks for ourselves. But when reaching your goal is the name of the game, make it a priority to vary the level of difficulty and not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too much.
When finishing a class with Adriene I feel goddess-like, having challenged myself in an accepting-where-I-am-today kind of way. Feeling like that, who wouldn’t be racing back the next day for another class?
So let’s take the advice of that article and forget about the goal but build on this by focusing wholeheartedly on the process. When things get hard and you want to give up, take one more deep breath in and out before you stop. When you feel like you have slipped up, thank yourself for your efforts so far and carry on. If something isn’t working for you, you have the power to change it for something more fitting. Consciously fall in love with the process and one day, as Adriene says, you won’t even be focussing on it and you’ll have reached your goal.
Check out Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga Challenge here.
And see how I can help you work towards your goals here.