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Your Goals: Give Up or Adjust?

Like many of you, I had numerous gym based goals that I was happily striving towards before this madness and lockdown began. They mainly consisted of building muscle and for a while during lockdown I kept pursuing this. But as you can imagine, you can only do so much with a set of rusted weights that are older than yourself. I felt incredibly frustrated when I came to this realisation, I had spent so much time and effort on it already, it felt like a waste.

In an attempt to quell these feelings of frustration and disappointment, I changed my goal to simply maintaining existing muscle mass. It seemed slightly more achievable and my previous hard work wouldn't go to waste. But I quickly found that I was berating myself when I didn't train or didn't train for long enough. I was frequently feeling frustrated with my training, my circumstances had significantly changed from when I initially created these goals. In some instances it seemed daft to continue striving for those goals. I had to change my approach, I wasn't enjoying my training and that was the most frustrating part. Now, I train for my mental health, for pure enjoyment, to have fun lifting things up and putting them back down. I don't feel that pressure to train, if I trained yesterday and don't feel like it today, then I don't. But if I haven't trained all week, then I force myself because it'll always be good for my head.

In this uncertain time, it may be necessary to reassess our goals as for many they have been delayed or cancelled. Striving towards goals gives us a purpose and is positively related to wellbeing, it may seem like a contradiction but a vital element of goal setting is also ceasing striving for these goals.

We know that the inability to achieve our goals is frustrating, annoying and sometimes anxiety inducing for particularly sought after goals or for something we're quite invested in. When we decide on a goal, we potentially adapt and change our behaviour, our training and our daily lives to help us achieve these goals. But when we make such consequences for goals that turn out to be unachievable it is really disheartening and will have an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. In order to avoid these feelings and reduce the impact of not achieving a particular goal there are a few approaches which we can take.

Completely abandoning and ceasing commitment to these goals is one such potential adjustment. This particular approach is suitable for those of us who's final goal has been cancelled altogether. The approach of complete disengagement frees up personal time, effort and resources which can be directed elsewhere, allowing for the fulfilment from other areas of life. Also, by doing so we can preserve our wellbeing by dodging the negative feelings associated with failing to achieve our goals. In taking this approach we have the opportunity to engage with alternative goals, whether that be outside the realm of sport or not is your call. But it could be worthwhile to focus on an alternative hobby for a period.

Further we can adjust our pre-existing goals. In doing so we may change our short term goals while keeping our long term goals, taking an alternative journey to the final goal if you will. After all, there is more than one way to skin a cat. We ideally don't want this pandemic to take over our lives so much that we give up striving for the things that mean so much to us, that is where adjusting our goals comes into play. We alter and adjust to suit the situation we currently find ourselves in.

These goal adjustment strategies influence our wellbeing in the sense that the athlete or individual will avoid the feeling of failure they would have experienced had they not adapted their behaviour and maintained their previous goals. We can reduce the potential suffering and frustration when alternative goals replace the unachievable as we maintain focus on the new goal. Think about it; if you alter your goals to something that is slightly more achievable than the previous, you would avoid the negative feelings that are associated with not accomplish your unattainable goal.

Once this pandemic is over we of course can go back to our original goals. But for now, we might have to make a few adjustments so we're not putting our wellbeing and mental health in jeopardy. After all your health is your wealth, and that includes your mental health.

Look after yourself,


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