Drowning the Demons of Doubt

Some years ago I taught a business planning class to prospective entrepreneurs.  As they progressed in the process, the students would inevitably get discouraged.  The prospect for success would seem impossibly slow and daunting.  At those moments when the demons of doubt clouded all hope and enthusiasm, I would try to remind the disheartened to remember what led them to this path in the first place.  “Dangle that carrot!” was the mantra.  Whatever it was that brought you here, keep it right up front.  It’s still there; it just gets buried periodically and needs to be dusted off and re-illuminated.

This applies to exercise also.  Sometimes the workouts just seem too tough.  You feel like you will never master the moves.  Sleeping in instead of going to class seems really attractive.  Even sensible.  You can come up with a zillion good reasons why exercise just isn’t right for you.  It’s moments like these when you need to “dangle that carrot!”  Remember why you decided to take up exercise in the first place.  What were your goals?  In case you’ve forgotten them here are a few possibilities from Paige Wagner one of the blogs I read regularly.  She wrote about a client she had

“. . . who wore a bracelet with the word “cellulite” written on it. When she felt like stopping, she looked at that bracelet for a reminder that every step brought her closer to her goal of losing weight.

If you’re lacking motivation to finish your workout, use a visual reminder, like she did, or just mentally list your own goals:

  • I want to get stronger
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to have more energy
  • I want to feel good about myself
  • I want to look good for my wedding/high school reunion/future

You can even turn it into a mantra, repeating silently “I’m getting stronger” or “I’m losing weight” with each step forward.  It may sound a little cheesy but, when you’re in the moment, the right thought can be the difference between quitting and succeeding.

If that list doesn’t resonate with you, here are a few more possibilities:

  • I want to move with less pain
  • I want to do things with my grandchildren
  • I want to improve my balance
  • I want to be healthier

Etc., etc.  I’m sure you can easily add your own goals to this list.  Progress may still feel painfully slow, though.  So instead of focusing on what you think you lack, try instead to see what you’ve accomplished.  Think about what you’ve already learned.  If you have attended even one class, you learned something.  Start there and build on that.  Anything you can do, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, can be a practice.  So practice it.  Repeat it.  Do the part that you know and before you know it you will be able to add on to that.  According to Alycea Ungaro, another blogger I follow, “with repetition comes freedom. [You don’t] need bells and whistles or fancy tricks – just the freedom that comes with knowing a [few moves] well enough to look for new elements, details and inspiration from each move.”

So rather than demanding specific performance standards from yourself, as Alycea suggests try being “open to what happens when you move through your routines”.  You may be surprised to find that you begin to experience them with greater and greater confidence.  No matter where you are on the path towards your goals you can always go back to what you know and move from there.

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