New Year’s Resolutions.
We all have the best of intentions. To be better. To start fresh. To change. Yet so much of the time we derail as quickly as we started, with most resolutions broken by Valentine’s Day. And the one we have the hardest time with? Exercise.
Perception is everything
According to social psychologist Emily Balcetis in her TED Talk, our mindset and perceived view of exercise greatly affects how determined we will be to stick to those commitments.
Our perceptions are subjective. Give a dozen people a photo and you’ll get a dozen different interpretations. We all quite literally see the world differently and thereby some inevitably see exercise as more difficult.
Keep your eyes on the prize
As humans, we have a very narrow field of vision. If we are unmotivated to exercise, the finish line will seem much farther away. Yet, if we are motivated to the end goal, exercise will look and feel easier.
In experiments conducted by Balcetis, one group of people was asked to focus their attention on the finish line, ignoring all other parts of the environment. The other test group was instructed to aim for the finish line as you would typically — but with an environment full of distractions and a much broader range.
Those who were focus-oriented felt the finish line was 30% closer, even with added challenges like weight training or tougher exercises. Thus, the finish line appeared closer to those who had committed to manageable goals.
The importance of having a goal
A few years ago, my husband and I took on a five month and 40-pound weight loss challenge for a TV show. It was difficult, but not impossible. We stayed the path. Our biggest takeaway from that experience was that you absolutely MUST have a goal in order to be successful.
We have made the Active for Life parent promise for 2017 to keep our kids active and healthy. At first, the TED Talk made us feel we hadn’t set ourselves up for success; we didn’t have our “eye on the prize”. What we realized is that we do, in fact, have the pieces in place.
Our goal is to create the culture within our family that intrinsically makes healthy living and exercise a part of our lifestyle. The only way we can do that is to make it a top priority. So for this year, our mandate is to get outside EVERY DAY, to have a family outing once a week, and to make choices that show our kids the importance of being active. For each of those promises, we’ve assigned a measurable goal to give us the best chance to stay on track, and most importantly, to help us keep our promise.
Why watch the TED Talk?
It’s good information. We all need to be reminded to stay focused. In order to stay true to a goal, we need to have something to strive for. Clear objectives that stay front of mind. Only then can we stand the best chance of success.