Olympians Teach Us to Forget About Purpose and Focus on the Process

There’s a lot to learn from the Olympic athlete’s work ethic, even when the games are over. Sure, they spend most of their time awake exercising, but the part where they set epic goals and solve them day in and day out, even when it sucks, even if you never get it? That’s what’s important.

While most of us are far from in the same boat as an Olympic preparatory athlete, the message applies to us too: Setting a goal is easy and enjoyable, but the real work begins with identifying the steps to achieve it. … Then you just have to do it without getting hung up on the goal itself. Otherwise, if something takes some time, we may lose motivation and our goal will backfire:

For example, a goal to complete an Ironman Triathlon will motivate until you understand how difficult it is and that you don’t know where to start. And even if you figure out where to start, you will quickly understand how far you need to go – both figuratively and literally. Any dramatic progress seems trivial. Ironically, focusing on such a goal can be demoralizing, demotivating, and ultimately detracting from the steps you need to take today to achieve it.

But perhaps the biggest potential mistake of over-focusing on goals is this: It often ties your self-worth to things you can’t control.

As science shows us, we should focus on what we are doing control and also on those who are nailed every day. This way you will keep your head connected to the present moment and your motivation. When you focus on the day-to-day process instead, you can keep moving towards your goal without getting stuck in it or tempted to leave because it is overwhelming.

Why Big Goals Can Backfire | Science about us


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