Setting goals is of the utmost importance to achieving long-term success. Without a specific objective and pre-determined time frame to achieve it in, making significant and lasting progress becomes substantially more difficult than it already is. However, during the process of setting and achieving goals, it can become remarkably easy to lose sight of what’s truly important: the present moment.
Unfortunately, however, many people view the process of achieving their goals as a means to an end rather than living, experiencing, and fully enjoying each and every moment along the way. While this trend can be seen in all facets of life, it is noticeably prevalent among individuals within the fitness industry. Those who are health conscious tend to be naturally adept at understanding the importance of setting goals. As such, when they decide exactly what it is they want to accomplish, they may enter a type of “hyper-focus” and do everything within their power to achieve it.Regardless of what the goal may be, whether it has to do with fat loss, mass gain, athletic performance, or general health, learning to accept, acknowledge, and fully appreciate the present moment is absolutely essential to not only reaching goals, but achieving them in the most enjoyable way possible.
However, intentionally or not, some of these individuals may forget to enjoy the most important aspects in life such as friends, family, and loved ones. Often times this behavior is exhibited through actions such as skipping a pre-arranged event to slip in an extra training session, making excuses to avoid eating out with friends and family, or generally leaving no room for flexibility in regard to training and nutrition.
I vividly remember a time when working out and eating “right” took precedence over everything and everyone in my life. If my friends went out for ice cream, I would abstain from ordering or decide not to accompany them at all. If my family was hosting a get-together, they would need to schedule it around my training or accept that I would not be attending. When individuals exhibit similar behavior, they may end up feeling isolated, separate, and alone. Eventually they might begin to rationalize their current state of discontent with the conviction that the future holds the key to happiness; that once their goals have been achieved, everything will sort itself out.
It’s necessary to understand, however, that these rationalizations for feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness are unproductive. They force us out of the present moment and to neglect the fact that we can only be happy NOW. So what does this mean in terms of training and nutrition? And how can we incorporate fitness and living in the present moment in order to lead a happier and more fulfilled lifestyle?
- Instead of concentrating on what to expect from the future, such as how people will treat you or how you will somehow be better-off than in a current life situation, try to become aware of the present moment and all that it has to offer. Pay attention to the minutia that we so often take for granted.
- At the gym, train on a rep-by-rep basis, focusing on each individual repetition, the movement patterns, and the progressions which must be made in order to see adequate growth.
- Place an emphasis on compound movements such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift while concentrating on form and technique and constantly striving to become a more proficient and competent trainee.
- Focus on making small and achievable progressions at each and every training session. Whether you increase range of motion (ROM), time under tension (TUT), total weight lifted, number of repetitions performed, or exercise intensity, these seemingly insignificant progressions are the building blocks which allow our bodies to adapt and grow for years on end.
- Rather than worry or procrastinate before that least favorite exercise, recognize that it must be done in order to achieve any ultimate goals. Accept that you will do the exercise and you will do it to the best of your ability. Being upset or lazily performing the exercise is simply a means of resisting the present moment. Train with the utmost effort to achieve optimal results.
- Realize that you are not your mind! The mind is always wandering, looking for reasons to worry, concern, and project unproductive thoughts and images into the subconscious. Stay present and concentrate on how the body moves, functions, responds, and adapts to the varying range of stimuli placed upon it.
- Appreciate and acknowledge the fact that you are putting in the time and effort NOW to do what it takes to achieve your ultimate goal.
If you can learn to fully appreciate the present moment, happiness is inevitable. You are no longer creating resistance to what is. You see it, experience it, and fully accept it. Incorporate this practice into all aspects of your fitness and you will soon realize that there is no other choice than to live and enjoy the present moment.
Making and striving to achieve new goals is extraordinarily important and a great skill to improve upon and embrace within your life. That being said, it’s equally important to understand what truly shapes us as individuals is the process we go through in order to attain these goals. Live, experience, and enjoy the entire process as it unfolds, because life is entirely too short to be worried about the past or concerned for the future.