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When Motivation Becomes Achievement

Have you ever wondered how is it that two different people can get motivated to make a significant change in their lives, yet one succeeds while the other fails?  Motivation is a fleeting concept that psychologists have examined for years. The initial stage setting is very recognizable, since most of us have experienced it. There’s the empowering swell that comes when decision meets determination, the public announcements that you are going to make the change, and the investment in resources for personal support. These are all part of the process of change.

Dr. Laura Watson concedes that while it was not easy, she was able to train for and complete two Ironman® events, despite being a full time mother, wife, practicing physician and president of a school board.  “Sustaining the motivation is actually harder than the race itself, but it makes a big difference to have others involved, says Dr. Watson. “It’s much harder to stay in bed if it means letting someone down.”

There are two tried and true models that both professionals and the general public turn to when an individual is seeking change. These apply to all changes, whether it be preparing for an athletic competition, taking charge of personal finances, starting a business, fixing a broken relationship, losing weight, etc. The first model is called the “Stages of Change,” or “Transtheoretical Model” of behavior change. The second model is the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting technique. Together, they are proven tools for people seeking achievement in their lives.

The TTM, or the “Stages of Change” model helps identify risk of failure to make the change based on the individual’s frame of mind.  It places the person on a scale of “not ready” for the change to “already maintaining” the change, with descriptions of a person’s cognitive starting point as either pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action or maintenance.

The S.M.A.R.T. technique helps individuals and their coaches get on and stay on track. It’s a mnemonic device, which narrows the focus of the desire to change. It requires that the participant be able to specifically state what the goal is (what change in behavior) to measure not only the foundation and the outcome, but also the progress in between. The individual should choose a goal that is both attainable and realistic and is bound to a specified time of expected achievement.

It is important to examine the traits and actions of people who attain their goal in order to bolster our efforts to either make a change ourselves, or assist someone else in making the change they desire.

Clear vision of the goal seems to help with success. Individuals that can visualize achieving their goal, such as picturing their body 100 pounds lighter, running across the finish line, or getting off prescription medications by pursuing a healthy bodyweight, are more likely to accomplish that goal. If there is no clear picture of the accomplishment, then it is too vague to aim toward.  With the dream clearly envisioned, all action to get there will be focused and decisive. 

I can’t overstate how important the visualization technique is to success,” Dr. Watson emphasizes. “I visualize the whole race. I visualize things going wrong and dealing with them. I visualize every exit, entrance and transition and it really helps.”

Spinning® Instructors are often noted for their ability to motivate their clients with visualization, whether it is getting through the next 30-second drill or attending a full year of Spinning classes to achieve a larger personal goal. The Spinning program itself is distinguished from other group exercise programs because of its “in-the-moment” approach to self-exploration, the demanding disciplined focus on technique and perseverance and its creativity, continuity and consistency.  These very threads which weave together a perfect signature tapestry of a Spinning class are what, for many, fuel motivation of participants and instructors alike to continue to strive for and achieve personal goals.

Additionally, when tackling long-term goals, you must be able to clearly articulate the course of action toward your destination, mapping out alternative routes, or a plan B, so that no unforeseen obstacle can thwart your course. This can be done by continuously seeking to educate yourself about the change process and outcome, becoming an expert in your own life. Achievers strive with a focus on their primary goal every day, with their sleeves rolled up and no excuses to fall back on when things get difficult.  With superhero strength and determination, they work hard to navigate the pitfalls and obstacles which present themselves along the way with enthusiasm and daily recommitment. 

Dr. Watson recounts, “During Spinning class, I can tell myself, ‘Ah, just take it easy and you will get there,’ or ‘Ride it out if you feel tired,’ etc. But then the music is pumping and my instructor is telling me to climb that hill, and I end up going for it and feeling great at the end.”

Whether coaching others or digging inside to find your own motivation to achieve a desired change or goal, it is not enough to know where the tools are; you must also put them to use. Success is a multi-layered complex, which requires creativity, continuity, consistency, self-exploration, visualization, enlisting support and hard work. This is the cloak of motivation draped across the very foundation of the Spinning program. 

Dr. Watson explains, “Ultimately, you need to not only choose the goal, but you need to choose a goal that is very important to you and be accountable to others for your progress and your success.”

You can make the change and there are many tools to use along the way to achieving your goals. Choosing a charity fitness event to raise money for an organization that means something to you will help motivate you and help you with long-term compliance. Using visualization techniques, recruiting training buddies and creating a training calendar are all ways to help you along your path to achievement. Make the first step toward change today!

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