4 Steps to Achieve Bigger Goals
By Katie MacDougall, LPC
I remember the first time I tried lifting weights. I was a kid and my dad had some weights stored in my playroom. I thought lifting weights looked fun. My sister and I asked my dad if we could try out a few bench presses. Despite our objections, my dad removed the stacks of weight from either side. He told us to start with just the bar. We rolled our eyes at his suggestion. Just the bar? Really? That sounded like baby stuff.
Well, to an experienced weightlifter, yes, just a bar is baby stuff. However, to two elementary school girls, it was not baby stuff. We were able to lift the bar...a couple times. A few lifts and we were done. Exhausted. Wiped out. Compared to our dad, we were weak. We wondered how we could ever lift weights like him.
Have you ever been there? Realizing you're a lot weaker than you think? Thinking you'll never be able achieve a goal you desire?
I'll be honest, I still can't lift weight like my dad. Not even close. I can lift a lot more than just the bar though. How did that happen? How did I achieve a goal that seemed unattainable? I grew physically, but the key is I also grew mentally. I developed the ability to say “no” to my desires and “yes” to my goals.
Just like exercise requires working through mental blocks (i.e. “I can’t do it,” “I’m not strong enough,” etc.), achieving other lofty goals requires working through mental blocks. In order to achieve any goal, it is important to do the following:
1. Work Like You Want Results.
Becoming stronger requires endurance, perseverance, and sweat. A person can't just take a magic pill to be strong. It takes little steps of lifting more and more weight, eventually building up to large amounts of weight. Similarly, a person can't just snap his or her fingers and acquire emotional and mental strength. While this may not include literal sweating, it will likely include hours of challenging self-reflection and developing new habits.
As a child, I had no perseverance. I also really didn’t enjoy sweating. After a few minutes of hard work, I was ready to go onto something more fun. As an adult, I know that when I want to achieve goals, I have to work hard. To lift greater physical weight, it means more hours at the gym. To lift greater emotional weight, it means more hours of self-reflection and prayer. Both likely require getting up earlier and managing time better.
2. Rest Well and Rest Enough.
Muscles need rest. To help muscles grow, a proper amount of rest is necessary. They can't heal without taking a break. During mental and emotional growth, rest is also necessary. Without rest, a person achieves a low-level of mental/emotional health. Old habits and difficult processing don't take place where rest is absent.
3. Be Consistent as You Train.
Lifting weights for a few weeks and then stopping doesn't work well for resistance training. It doesn't take long to have to start from scratch. Similarly, a lack of consistency with mental and emotional training means a lack of progress. Long-term results require consistency.
4. Practice Proper Technique.
As an adult I started weight training with a trainer. The trainer often corrects me on my technique as I’m lifting weights. She’s constantly giving me tips to reduce joint damage and maximize muscle growth. Reducing joint damage means I can lift weights longer and maintain strength as I age. Maximizing muscle growth means I can lift more and achieve the goals I desire.
Practicing good form applies to other goals too. When I choose to achieve a goal without cutting corners, it means that I am less likely to damage myself or others. When I choose to consult others for tips to follow through with my goals, I will likely be able to achieve goals greater than I imagined. Good form is important in all areas of goal accomplishment.
Mental and emotional strength is a lot like physical strength. It requires the same kind of resistance training. It takes work, rest, consistency, and technique to build the kind of strength to obtain the goals we desire.
Why not start today? I bet there's a bar out there somewhere you can lift.