So you have decided to overcome self-destructive indulgence and instead take care of, challenge and develop your body, burn excess body fat, tone your muscles, improve your fitness and health?
Many of us reach this point at least once in our lives – most even several times. The point at which you decide to take care of your body, and therefore yourself, can be drastic. At moments like this, one oozes with determination and enthusiasm.
The only thing is: In most cases, this motivation breaks down after a few weeks, often even after a few days.
There are many reasons why many give up early. It is noticeable, however, that a supposedly small detail often leads to undoing.
This vital piece of advice can change your life because it helps you achieve your fitness goals:
When you reach your magical “Transformation Point”, be careful not to tell others about your intentions and goals!
Some coaches and magazines recommend exactly the opposite, namely to involve as many people as possible in your project, to increase the social pressure. After all, you don’t want to be seen as a “failure”, do you? For such projects there are now even apps that should help to make agreements with friends …
As it turns out, however, this method has the opposite effect – it hinders you in achieving your goals!
First of all, the argument of social pressure does not work as well as it should – at some point everyone starts to question why one should actually torture oneself (for others). In addition, you would ultimately only be one of many to announce such a project and not keep it. Any reason to explain comes to mind.
In addition, there is another effect that makes this method, the announcement of one’s own ambitions and goals, counterproductive :
Just in the moment when you share your project, the momentum, the determination, the energy fizzle out!
In psychology this is used under the opposite sign in therapy. After traumatic experiences, for example, patients are encouraged to talk about the experience in detail. This also applies to the stresses and problems of everyday life – it is often enough for the patient to talk to the therapist about it in order to experience improvement. As a result, the (here negative) energy escapes. Talking about it ultimately means processing it and leaving it out.
That ultimately happens too, but in this case to your disadvantage if you tell others about your ambitions and goals. The enthusiasm flutes! The energy that drives you, that makes you initiate everything necessary and stick with it, evaporates as soon as you have talked your project off your mind.
But why is motivation lost a little when other people are privy to their own plans? There are various theories on this and it is also conceivable that there is a superposition of several effects.
One possible explanation: The creation of a false social reality, when so-called identity goals are made known.
Identity goals are those goals that affect a person’s perception of who they are. This includes, for example, the choice of profession, but also fitness goals, which are definitely associated with a larger lifestyle.
Imagine the following:
Paul is a young man who would like to become a mechanical engineer. He tells his buddy Ben about his plans and tells him that he wants to work hard for this goal. But only by telling Ben about it does he now know that Ben now thinks of Paul as an engineer. So from Paul’s perspective, it feels like he’s already achieved part of his goal of becoming an engineer. So it conveys a false “social reality”.
This model is based on a comprehensive study of the phenomenon by the scientists Gollwitzer, Sheeran, Michalski and Seifert from the Universities of New York, Konstanz and Sheffield in 2009.
Through a clever study, they confirmed above all that motivation is reduced when others are initiated into one’s own identity goals:
They divided students who wanted to become psychologists into two groups. Both groups should list two activities for the following week that will help them achieve their goal.
The one group was read and returned confirmed by the scientists. The subjects in this group now knew that the scientists knew their goals.
The other group was told that they had been given the task by mistake and that no one would look at their lists.
After a week, the subjects were contacted again and asked how much time they had spent on their listed goals. It turned out that the second group, i.e. those participants who thought no one knew their goals, spent more time achieving them.
A number of subsequent studies found other possible explanations for this effect. It became apparent that the simple desire for a certain identity is a strong motivator to carry out those activities that help to achieve this goal. If you and others can only recognize this identity from your activities, then your motivation will be strong . However, if there are other ways to communicate that particular identity, for example simply by telling others about it, then your motivation will no longer be as strong.
But what the reasons for this effect may be does not really matter in the end. What matters is that it exists.
The specialty of fitness goals is that this effect is reinforced by another one that many do not have on the list:
As soon as you tell your friends and acquaintances about your fitness goals and explain everything you want to do to live healthier, you are holding a mirror in front of their face!
Some of them will now develop unconscious guilt for not being active themselves.
It is easier to bear one’s own “wrongdoing” when it is shared by others. In other words, when everyone is eating fries, nobody feels guilty. That only happens when someone leaves the line, orders a salad and declares that they want to live healthily.
Your friends may be the best people in the world, they may be nice and kind and lovable, and they all have your best on their minds. Even so, part of them will wish that you fail and get back on track.
This has two consequences for you:
- Because you know that others unconsciously want to see you fail, there is a part of you that wishes to be “normal” again, to come back into the limb.
- From now on you will have to endure discreetly derogatory comments and tips that remind you of them again and again. Everyone develops their own understanding of “healthy living” and others will only ever judge you according to their understanding, according to their standards. Thus there is a certain pressure to meet expectations. This pressure increases further because others can only judge you based on visible results. But not all progress is visible. That is why it is more important to many to look good than to feel good (because you don’t see the latter in a hurry).
Of course you could now say to yourself: “I’m over it!”
Easier said than done, though. In reality, it often does matter.
So the solution is obvious: Do it, don’t talk.
Don’t tell others about your goals. It’s not easy, but it helps to really achieve your goals. In the end, words mean little anyway, we can only measure ourselves against actions.
So what matters is what you do. Take concrete steps to achieve your goal. Form constructive habits and keep silent.