You know you should work out and train for the goals that you’ve set for yourself. And once you’ve found your “why,” you might not need anything else to get strong, sexy, and healthy.
Today’s article is the second part of a piece that I started last week, in which I encouraged you to find your “why” when it comes to staying motivated and consistent with health & fitness. Simply enough, the second question that we will dive into on this topic is this:
Wanting to lose 10 pounds before a wedding, or increasing your squat to set a new personal record at your next meet are all great goals with great reasons for pursuing them; but what makes people pursue these endeavors in the first place? Why bother?
In last week’s segment, I mentioned how the intangible things we want–more strength, more performance, more confidence, more social acceptance, more love–aren’t time-sensitive. The goals that we set for ourselves, either losing 10 pounds or adding 10 pounds (to our squat), are just tangible manifestations of these intangible needs. The goals are just a means to an end, and when it comes down to it, it is the feeling that matters.
The feeling of accomplishment. Of strength. Of performance. Confidence, social acceptance, and love. That’s it.
That’s why we bother. It’s to achieve and attain something we’ve never felt or done before.
Perhaps it would also be wise to contemplate on these secondary questions as well:
- What pleasure are we moving toward?
- What pain are we moving away from?
The interplay between pleasure and pain is an important one, because pleasure and pain are ultimately what drives the engine on our fitness pursuit. At any point in time, we are moving towards some pleasure and away from some pain.
A recent article on Inc.com further elucidated this topic: Neuroscience: The 1 Thing You Need to Achieve Any Goal (It’s Not What You Think). In summary, the one thing that drives people to achieve their goals is the thought of potentially negative outcomes and an active effort to avoid those outcomes. As it turns out. this is more powerful than focusing on the positive. Looking good for a wedding is nice, but what if you’re not able to fit into that dress? According to the article, the latter would be a more powerful motivator.
When it comes to pleasure and pain, it is not hard to imagine how pain can be more powerful than pleasure. We can even see how in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our most fundamental and biggest needs deal with the avoidance of physiological pain, first and foremost.
We bother with our pursuits and our goals to avoid pain. And to a slightly lesser degree, we bother so that we can attain pleasure. These fundamental feelings are what drive us. It’s the reason “why.”
If you struggle with your why, try asking yourself this: what pleasure are you moving toward, and what pain are you moving away from? This thought experiment should give you clarity on you goals and why you want them so bad. And it’s mostly because it would hurt more NOT to achieve them.
That’s why we bother.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.