You set a goal. You created the plan. You worked hard until you were so entrenched in achieving your goals that your every thought and action deepened your commitment and determination. Ultimately you reached that goal, exceeded it even, and are on top of the world.
Whether it was for a competition, an upcoming event, the summer season, or some personal fitness journey, your devoted yourself to the pursuit of a goal and once that goal is reached, do you have a plan for what comes next? Having a plan for what comes after reaching your goal can prove very beneficial for many reasons.
Typically, when you are so focused on reaching that goal every ounce of your being is fully concentrated and doing everything possible to attain that goal. When it comes to a fitness goal – this pursuit already involves your entire lifestyle. You choose what to eat and when based on achieving a goal. You may need to prepare meals ahead of time in order to stay on track each day. Your workouts are planned out and scheduled each week. If you are planning to compete, then you must factor in time for posing, tanning, and all the little details that go along with getting to the stage. However once your moment arrives – whether it be fitting in to a certain size of clothes or swimsuit, or reaching a new healthy weight, or lifting a new personal best – the next moments, days and weeks can be a very rough time without a plan. What do you do? Do you stop doing what you were doing because you reached your goal? Do you cut back in order to maintain your goal? Do you take some time off? The possibilities are endless and often scary. Let’s face it, you have conditioned yourself and stuck to such a disciplined schedule and routine for a purpose, and now that purpose has been removed.
It is not uncommon to feel a range of emotions and have many thoughts after achieving your goals. Depression, feelings of being lost, and even feeling of guilt are not abnormal. You have been focused on accomplishing something for yourself, not on what you will do after it.
Remember fitness is a lifestyle and not a snapshot type of thing.
It is a continuous journey. Reaching your peak simply means that you now have a better perspective and experience base from which to draw from to go farther. Yes I said it – there can still be more to do, further to go and more to achieve. But it requires more work and a new plan.
After a competition the first thing I do, almost as soon as I walk off stage for the night is to reflect upon my experience. What were my goals before I started preparing for this contest? Did I reach my goals? What worked well? What could be improved upon next time around? How do I get there? Am I content with what I accomplished to this point? Where do I go from here? Reflecting on your experience is a great place to start and also helps to eliminate the feeling of nothingness that can occur after reaching your goal. Write things down- thoughts, pros, cons, improvements. Give the reflection process time. It is not necessarily a 10 minute activity. It is a process that may occur over a week, or a few weeks .
Out of the reflection process will come some honest insights, both positive and negative, but honest. It may also leave you with more questions. Do you want to continue the journey? Do you have the mental and emotional strength to do this again? Is there a way to maintain what you have achieved? If you decide to go further, when will you start? All of these things take time and understanding that it is a process is therapeutic in itself. You don’t need to get angry or frustrated with yourself because you don’t have all the answers and you’re not as regimented as you were a few days or weeks ago. All of these things will take care of themselves in due time.
The point of the reflection process is to gain a clearer perspective of what you have done and also have some honest conversations with yourself to reveal where you want to go next. The next logical step, would be to set some new goals. In setting goals, create both short and long term goals that are in line with the answers to questions and insights gained during the reflection process.
With new goals set, the momentum and fire within begin to build and you must next create a new plan of action. The more detailed you can make the plan, the better you will feel and more direction you will have. And with that complete, your journey continues. Much like an ocean wave coming ashore, you have gathered energy and motion, peaked, and then slowly retreated a bit as you found your way again with renewed energy and momentum to peak again.
The journey we take in living a healthy and fit lifestyle is continuous and constantly changing. Reaching one goal, as lofty as it may have been to achieve, will eventually become a stepping stone as we use it to climb higher, go farther, and do more than we once thought we were capable.