If you are new to training, its easy to say to yourself “I can’t be bothered training today. Missing a session won’t hurt!” From there, it is easy for your mind to spiral into a thought process that either partly or wholly justifies why you shouldn’t train.
Generally, when someone begins training they do so to achieve a goal – and the identification of a goal leads them to seek out training. However when setting a goal, most people don’t realise that in order to succeed, there must be a change in thinking to help create and support the road to achievement.
Your Current Identity
The way you think and how you see yourself was learnt when you were a child. Having been engraved into your brain, you current thought processes make you feel comfortable and safe, growing you to where you are today. As part of this, your current way of thinking and how you see yourself, does not always support the process of change.
For example, lets assume an overweight person who has never exercised before, sets a goal to loose weight. Their identity, beliefs and thought processes have supported them to where they are today (as someone who is overweight and never exercised). However, to achieve their weight loss goal they must begin exercising, but the process of going to the gym and being a person of average weight is not something that they currently identify with. Additionally, they aren’t used to having exercise as part of their life, and the gym environment is something they are unfamiliar with. As a consequence, exercise will make them feel uncomfortable and they will find it difficult to achieve their goal by just taking up exercise 3 times per week. In fact, it is common that within weeks of setting their weight loss goal, gym attendance will slowly decline and they will abandon their goal altogether.
Visualising Your Goals
To have the best chance of success, you need to visualise yourself as the person you want to be, having already achieved your goal. Whilst things like being consistent in attending training and eating the right foods are all things that a person (that is the person who you want to be) who is not overweight may do, physically committing to these behaviors is extremely difficult unless you start thinking about what it would be like to be that person.
Visualising and affirming your goal is essential for building a foundation towards achievement. Commit to reading and visualising the answer to this question at least 3 times per day:
“Who would I be, how would I feel and what would I do if I already had [insert your goal]?”
Breaking down the segments into distinct characteristics, feelings and behaviors helps to identify yourself with your goal:
1. Who would I be? What personal characteristics would you have if you [insert your goal]?
2. How would I feel? How would you feel if you [insert your goal]?
3. What would I do if I ALREADY had [insert your goal]? These are the actual (physical) things you would do (eg train 3 times per week) if you had already [insert your goal].
Reprogramming Your Thoughts
There are two important facts to know about your brain. The first is that the brain works and thrives on repetition. Secondly, the brain does not understand or know the difference between real or imaginary thoughts.
Therefore, the more you think about and visualise something as being achieved, you are effectively programming your brain to succeed, even though it is not as yet true. The process of visualising what your goal would ‘look’ like as achieved, allows you to identify with, and see yourself as the person you want to be. This then creates the belief and desire to undertake the steps necessary to achieve your goal.
Source: Jim Fortin and Melyssa Griffin, ‘How To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind For Automatic And Lasting High Performance’, 16 October 2017.