Over 5000 miles on STRAVA! I checked off yet another fitness goal from my 12-step challenge today. 223 rides, 435 hours, 221,000 feet of elevation gain, four to five rides per week, and 2000 miles more than my previous best accomplishment. To reach this milestone, I’ve given up consuming all news. I’ve also reduced the venues of social media I use to one. In addition, I tend to limit myself to around four hours of screen time each week. I don’t go the gym, but I still practice yoga every morning. I’m not as social as I once was, but I still attend all family events, go to church when I can, and make time for dear friends. Considering all this, one could say that I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to set and achieve this goal. A logical question to ask is why? What value do you get from setting a goal that requires dedication, large amounts of time, and sacrifice? This is certainly a valid consideration. Perhaps, there are dozens of helpful benefits that occur when we set and achieve healthy goals; however, this year I have recognized three highly motivating emotional reactions I've experienced after reaching milestones that are part of my year-long wellness challenge.
Esteem. Going to bed at night feeling as though you’ve done something wonderful is a great way to live. In at least what seems to have been a decade, I cant recall experiencing the general sensation of happiness that life is providing me now. Of course, I still have some bad days. But each time I meet another challenge, I somehow positively reconnect with myself. Happily, I'm currently able to say that I like myself more and sometimes feel like I'm a person that I could admire. Is this form of pride healthy? Does it build positive self-esteem? Maybe. My first hint of this phenomena was after completing a 154-mile ride around the Tetons in June. Other items checked off my bucket list have also been emotionally rewarding.
Constant Fulfillment or Prospects. Having a big goal provides me with something to look forward to each day. I love living this way because I have direction, establish healthy habits, and escape the daily grind. For me, there’s something very satisfying about settling in to a routine and the emotional charge received from a consistent, steady march forward towards a goal. The chance of glimpsing a light at the end of a tunnel gives rise to a sense of hope in my soul, and I love feeling this way.
Rewards: Emotional, Hormonal, and Material. Regular moments of happiness, serious dopamine hits, and gifts I give to myself when I accomplish a goal all add up to a serious natural high. When I focus on a benchmark I've set, dedicate myself and work hard towards it, realize the dream, and get rewarded, something magical happens. This transforms my life from dreary to bright and optimistic. It’s a seriously cool feeling of pride, it's a high, an addiction, a feeling I cannot and will not give up. If you do not currently engage in goal setting, I encourage you to give it a try.