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Goal Setting and Fostering Consistent Motivation

Sean McCoy has a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Exercise Science from Bridgewater College with a certification from the National Strength Professionals Association. He is now in his 11th year as a professional trainer and has worked with and trained alongside numerous active and retired professional athletes during his career. He believes heavily in nurturing the progress of both the body and the mind, approaching each session exclusively and is very considerate towards work and life stress. He is well experienced with both the heavily goal-specific individual as well as the individual who wants to define their baseline. He offers three free trial sessions for any interested prospect and also has a referral reward program.

Please contact him by leaving a message at 571-233-1658 or by e-mailing him at


I'm really uncomfortable with these types of thing and addressing a large, "neutral" population, so the best idea that I have is to just use myself as an example and then hope it's relatable to any of you.

Motivation has always been a primary, often vital source of fuel for individuals looking to accomplish challenging tasks since life began. It's capable of masking pain and discomfort, and can even make us feel better about a pursuing a challenging task with lesser preparedness, than if we were to have no motivation being fully prepared. However, I believe to have noticed over my life that the euphoric effect of motivation has a dulling effect on the mind over time, and without the balance of discipline within an individual, motivation can have very negative consequences on the mind if not properly guided. Through my own personal experience, motivation is just a reward that we receive before doing whatever it is our discipline knows we should do without the reward. Despite this, I also realize how critically effective motivation can be to helping individuals overcome challenging obstacles, so I wanted to give five tips about goal setting to help nurture a mind that allows motivation to stay consistent.

  1. Be honest with yourself

  2. Be careful with comparisons

  3. Align your goals with what you want most

  4. Allow your body to speak for itself

  5. Start with any workout you're willing to do

1. The number one criteria I have found to be most helpful when creating goals that foster consistent motivation is to be very disciplined about being honest with yourself and where you currently are in life. The reason why this is so important is because you want to try and limit the chances for negative feedback to occur within the mind. If you structure your goals honestly, you're more likely to critique your progress honestly as well, and when there are setbacks, your expectations won't tempt you as much to inappropriately criticize yourself because they will be based off of very appropriate goals. Start your expectations off as modestly as possible and allow your body's performance to help you decide on when, and for what, to increase your expectations.

2. Please be careful when comparing yourself when pursuing any goal. This includes comparing yourself to a past you and/or comparing yourself to others. There could be situations in where it may even be inappropriate to compare yourself to who you were the week before. You have to see yourself honestly at all times for all the things you are dealing with, and the more you compare yourself to a past you or to others, then the more likely it is that associating key factors will be overlooked. This can cause inappropriate feedback through self-talk and discourage you in ways that can throw you off track. Instead of making a goal to look like you did when you were in college, make a goal to improve the way you currently see yourself in the moment. Start with tasks that, through basic consistency, will start to yield results that give you a better idea of what's possible for you next.

3. Aligning your goals with what you want most will help make the unpleasantry of the day-to-day commitment not as distracting. For example, often times people isolate fitness goals and never give their goal a proper association as to why they want to achieve the goal. Without defining why the goal matters to you most, then the commitment towards it will likely taper off when adversity hits. Have fun and play around with it, but don't be afraid to challenge yourself. For example, most of my main goals for exercising are based off my desire to protect and nurture. To me, fitness helps me fulfill all of those demands more easily. Setting the focus of my goal on providing for someone else helps me stay motivated far more than just focusing on me. Another example would be a time when I needed to lose some weight in the past. I can be very stubborn at times and need to be a little harder on myself sometimes in order to make the "right" decisions. One night I was extremely tempted to eat an additional meal due to stress after a lacrosse game we had lost. There wasn't anything really holding me back from eating, but instead I had to tell myself, "If I was poor and had a child that needed a meal, would I eat this food or give it to the child?" I knew immediately that I wasn't that hungry to desperately eat it, and I denied the meal. Little thoughts like that help keep your perspective clear and minimize tension or temptation. Just toy around with what you want most and see how your goals can align with them.

4. Allowing your body to speak for itself is something that you become more sophisticated with over time, but the more you stick with it, the less likely it is that you'll fall completely off track of your goals. When it comes to fitness goals, conditioning your mindset is extremely vital as you get older. The workouts are less exciting, it's usually harder to get warmed up for them, and the recovery from them is likely to take longer than it used to. So why push yourself, right? A couple years ago I used to workout at least 20-24 hours per week as a weightlifter. Once you hit volumes like that, there's really not a workout in the world that you're excited about anymore, it just becomes a matter of duty. However, it taught me a valuable lesson on consistency and how to understand my body. More times than not, I'd wake up in the morning and not want to give even a fraction of my energy toward working out. My legs would feel a little dead, my thoughts probably weren't in the best place, and the comfort of being out of the gym was really enticing. I was very lucky during this time to be a coach of a group of players that I wanted to inspire and be a positive influence for, so going home wasn't an option, but my mind was still telling me I should take the day off. What I ended up learning was that doing a little guided meditation on those "burdened" days and giving myself extra time with the warmup, I would end up setting new personal records on those very same days, and the clouded state of mind I was in really didn't match itself to what my muscles were capable of performing. This kind of information is really helpful in limiting negative trains of thought that cause you to miss workouts and delay your potential progress. This example is meant to be conceptual though. My life circumstances at the time allowed me to have the availability to handle the demands of pursuing that type of goal at the time.

5. Start with whatever type of exercise gets you moving and builds your confidence in order to kickstart your training. My main and most skilled form of exercise is weightlifting, but during the times I've struggled the most, weightlifting can be incredibly daunting to first come back to. I've always struggled with anxiety, so getting workouts completed in different forms would help release the hormones needed and build a confidence that helps me get back into the rigors of weightlifting. I'll swim, run, play flag football, softball/baseball, basketball, golf, rollerblade, ice skate, or just play on a playground just to get the "feel" of being active again. Stringing a couple of those workouts together can really help build positive momentum and can get you back into your main form of exercise more smoothly.

All in all, goals become much easier when they are crafted and pursued in a way that fosters a place for motivation to be consistent in the mind. A lot of people go for the "overpowering" motivation approach, and I find this to have diminishing returns and can negatively effect basic discipline if you're not careful. Protecting your thoughts is extremely important and minimizing ways for your thoughts to veer off track can be incredibly rewarding. However, I can't conclude this article without having a clear conscience first, so I do need to say this: If you are involved in a relationship that you made a commitment to, I strongly recommend and encourage you to not make any goals with high demands without talking it over with your significant other or your family first. See if they can help support you on the demands of your goals, and if they honestly can't, then I strongly recommend and encourage you to modify your goal to still respect the commitment you have to your relationship or your family. Having a goal with high demands can really bring strain to a relationship or a family. I can't emphasize enough how easy it is to subconsciously feel bitterness and resentment towards a significant other or one or more family members because their needs conflict with the progress of your goals. If you made a commitment to them, it's your responsibility to honor it and modify your goals to honor that. If you are involved with a family commitment, then I speak from experience that it's extremely important to make sure your goals pay respects to the fact that you will miss workouts due to family matters, or that you won't always have the best peace of mind during your training. Honor your family and be honest with what you can actually pursue without abandoning your commitment to them.

This is why speaking with a trainer to help maximize what you're capable of accomplishing during the times that you are available can be so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I'd love to explain or follow-up with anyone if you have any questions.

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