5 Steps of a Fitness Goal Mindset

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Soldier performs bench press as he tries to attain one of his fitness goals.
Spc. Jarrod Pitts, 153rd Military Police Company, Delaware City, Del., National Guard, bench-presses 215 pounds while fellow MP Staff Sgt. Boyd Robinson provides a spot and Spc. Lance Love, 153rd MP Co., lends motivation. (Courtesy photo)

Any growth requires a mindset that is challenged continuously.

To accomplish your goal(s), you need more than the initial motivation and new energy that envelops the mind and body. Here's how you can stay motivated, even when you'd rather laze on the couch.

Step 1: Beginning. Making a decision, setting a goal and getting motivated can occur in an instant. There is science behind what happens hormonally to humans during this powerful moment. Many rush to join a gym, get to a recruiter's office or tell everyone their plans. However, it is the perfect time to stay inwardly focused and patient.

The process of getting from Point A to B can be a long one, so give yourself time and chart a path toward growth before doing anything. A goal without a plan is just a wish.

The kicker of Step 1 is that it is fun getting fired up about something, but that early excitement rarely carries you very far. You will need to build solid habits and discipline and work/train, even though you don't feel like doing it. Turning motivation into discipline is a requirement to moving forward on a strong foundation.

I am a firm believer in motivation, even though many say it is garbage. It is the first step of any journey and critical to getting people to move. Sure, it has to evolve into habits and discipline, but we all start a journey as a wide-eyed, wanna-be dreamer.

Typically, motivation either evolves or dies between Steps 1 and 2.

Step 2: Dealing with self-doubt. Self-doubt and failure are part of success. They are part of the journey, so embrace them and get over it. Get back up. Keep moving and say, "Never quit." We all question decisions we make. It is natural to have doubt and to say, "Have I trained hard enough?" To say, "Am I good enough?"

My advice in this phase is: "Don't listen to yourself; talk to yourself" with positive self-talk. Short phrases such as, "I can do this. I am good enough, and I am not going to fail. I am never going to quit." These are powerful and necessary to the process. Know you will have doubts and defeat the quit demon in your head. You have to acknowledge this phase and move on, or you will be stuck forever doubting yourself.

Step 3: Conquering doubt. Conquering doubt once is an awesome feeling. Continuing to move forward after dealing with doubters, naysayers and your own self-doubt is even more empowering than that initial Step 1 excitement.

You may have to redo this phase continually throughout your quest. Difficulties may accompany your goal progression, but once you do, you can do anything to which you set your mind. This is where the mind and body connect. You also may learn that your body is 10 times stronger than you think it is.

Use this energy and self-realization as a catalyst in all areas of your life: work, relationships, school, etc. Exercising your body will give you the stamina and energy to exercise your mind and achieve your lifelong dreams.

Step 4: Lifestyle changes. Just about any goal will require a lifestyle change for you to become and remain successful. For instance, dieting and fitness must become lifestyle changes and daily habits, just like brushing your teeth. But after the first three steps, you now are at a phase where you think of yourself differently.

You now are determined to complete your goal and see the light at the end of the tunnel. You now see yourself as fit, a healthy eater, ready to serve, a graduate or entrepreneur. Whatever the goal was, you are now there in the final steps of achievement.

Step 5: Building on success. The journey continues. Whether you started this journey with a fitness goal or a professional life goal, this is not the destination.

How did this goal achievement change your life? Typically, new doors and chapters will open after you accomplish your initial goal. What is next? What is the next goal? What is the next challenge?

Are you ready to take the confidence that you gained from previous goal accomplishments and move forward? Yes, you are. Keep moving.

Keep moving forward and rely on your habits and discipline when motivation is low. The phases of goal achievement are all mental -- your mindset.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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