I recently listened to a TED Talk session by Emily Balcetis, NYU Department of Psychology professor, where she discussed a study conducted that showed individuals that perceived that a finish line was closer than it appeared were more motivated and actually walked faster to the finish line than those that perceived that the finish line was further away (i.e. the less daunting the finish line, the more motivated you are to get there). Wow, this says a lot. The finish line wasn’t actually further away for either group- it was really down to perception. They took the study a step further and had two group walk to a finish line – one group they told to only focus on the finish line and the other they said they could look around. What do you think happened? The group that were only to focus on the finish line reported that it felt closer and easier to complete than the opposing group.
How do we take this and apply it to our own lives?
What are we doing wrong? And How can we fix it?
Knowing that perception is key and actually impacts our motivation, how can we change our perception to stick to our workouts long term?
You’re not sticking to your workouts because your finish line is too far away.
Bring it in a notch.
Let’s Take the long-term end game out of the picture. Instead of focusing on losing that 10,15,30, 60, 70 pounds and that running daily is the answer to this, let’s make our “finish line” perceived shorter and more manageable. Let’s start with 5 pounds. Let’s start with running/walking/exercising/yoga class/HIIT class today- forget about tomorrow and a week, month, year from now. Focus on today. Hit the class, pavement, mat, etc. today. Does that seems as daunting as losing 70 pounds?
Keep your “Eye on the Prize”. In the study, they conclude the adage, “eye on the prize” actually has an impact our your motivation to keep exercising. So, let’s create the prize- the real prize. Sit down and really visualize what you want to accomplish. Think about the end goal- write about it in your journal. Make it the forefront of your motivation. Picture yourself. Remind yourself of this each week.
Let’s keep it going. If you break that big goal into smaller, more manageable finish lines – you’re scientifically more motivated to accomplish each finish line. After you’ve hit that first short-term finish line, create the next manageable one all the while keeping your eye on the end prize.
Also, don’t forget to celebrate at the end of each finish line. Congratulate yourself for meeting that finish line. A lot of work went into it and you should be celebrating!
I always try to remind everyone to not beat yourself up if you miss a workout. It’s just not worth it. You’re doing more each day then you were before. Keep up the great work- eye on the prize and one finish line at a time.
Take a listen to the TED Talk here.