Motivating Yourself Towards Your Goals

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Motivation is probably the most important tool when it comes to recovering from pain. Without motivation, healing from an injury or making a lifestyle change to help reduce pain is nearly impossible. Motivation is the energy and focus needed to achieve a goal. It is an internal process that helps bring you closer towards your goal and makes you more accountable for your actions. For example, if your goal is weight-loss, motivation is the process whereby before eating something sugary you will ask yourself: does this action move me closer or further away from my goal. 

 

One of the main hindrances to motivation is procrastination. Procrastination develops when you have an inner belief that blocks you from your goal. For example, if I believe I can not lose weight because my family is unhealthy, this belief becomes a block to my personal goals.

 

Another example which we commonly see at the clinic is this: because of my bad X-ray/MRI report my back pain will not get better. Most of the time this is not true, the human body is capable of recovering and improving despite what an X-ray or MRI report might show. However patients may lose motivation to exercise or stretch based on a false belief that may have no merit. Instead of focusing on activities that can help with recovery they instead focus that energy on results that may not be the cause of their pain. 

 

As health practitioners, our main role is to help motivate our patients, to help encourage more exercise, better workplace ergonomics, healthier eating habits and better stretching routines. Our goal is to help our patients make choices that lead to a healthier life for themselves and their families. Usually we find that most patients don’t require answers to their pain, but instead require a way to unblock negative beliefs. This can be quite difficult at times, as some of these beliefs have been around for a long time. Usually if the symptoms are manageable, the improvement the patient receives from care is enough to motivate the patient to perform the correct activities to help with their pain. However, if the pain is complex, like in sciatica, it can be much more difficult to break down negative beliefs, and to motivate the patient to get better.

 

It’s in these instances we would like to propose a few simple techniques to help overcome negative beliefs. We have listed them below for your convenience:

 

  1. Write it down: Write down what you are trying to accomplish and what steps you will take to get there. For example, if weight-loss is the goal, write down the starting weight, the target weight, the length of time required and the number of calories per day needed to achieve this goal. These targets do not need to be difficult, but an outline of the process you will be taking to reach your destination. 
  2. Organize what you wrote down: The next step is to take your actions and cluster them into larger groups. For example, under weight-loss some of the action plan items could go under ‘healthy eating’, ‘ exercise’ and ‘calorie tracking’. This way the smaller ideas become big ideas, and are easier to manage and organize. 
  3. Recognize the purpose of your goal: This is probably the most important part of this exercise, the meaning behind why you are embarking on this goal. This will provide the substance behind your motivation to accomplish your goals. In keeping with the same goal of weight-loss, the reasoning could include: more energy, stronger body, longer and healthier life, better quality time with the family and reducing the risk of chronic conditions.

 

A few additional points that are worthy to reflect on:

 

  • Most good things in life come from difficulty, whether it is raising kids, building a stronger body, losing weight, increasing knowledge or advancing in a profession. My professor in University would describe these difficulties as ‘growing pains’, as you grow there will be challenges to overcome. Recognizing this fact has helped keep me motivated in many avenues of life. To further explain this idea, I would recommend reading a blog post I wrote which can be found here:https://muscleandjoint.ca/be-antifragile/
  • Today is the best time to start becoming the healthiest version of you. If you wait another 4 to 6 months chances are you may not enjoy the same level of health and fitness you do today. Today may not be perfect, but it will be easier to start a healthier life today than to wait for tomorrow.
  • It is important to make your goals and plans achievable. If your goals are too difficult, it will be difficult to maintain a level of motivation that will keep you going. Also there may be days/weeks where you may journey away from your goals temporarily. It is important to remember that is fine, as long as you do not lose sight of the greater destination. 

 

I hope this article helps motivate all of us to make better choices and to set achievable goals, whatever they may be. I wish you the best on your journey to a healthier life!

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