The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Fitness Resolutions #3 – Know Your “Style” Before Setting Your Goals

Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Fitness Resolutions #3 – Know Your “Style” Before Setting Your Goals

Has someone ever told you that all you have to do to achieve your goals is think positive and visualize
what you want?  Although it sounds like good advice, the truth of the matter is a bit more complicated
than that.  Let me explain.

Psychologists have discovered that some people are truly motivated by what they can achieve.  Other
people though are truly motivated by what they can avoid.

For example, two people can both have the goal of losing 30 pounds, but why each person is
motivated to lose those 30 pounds can be significantly different.  The first person may be motivated to
“feel better, look sexy and have more energy.”  These reasons are worded in what the person can
achieve (a promotion focus).  On the other hand, the second person may be motivated to “not get sick
and not feel fat.”  These reasons are worded in what the person can avoid (a prevention focus).

Either focus can help you achieve your goals and some goals are inherently more prevention or
promotion focused in general.  For example, insurance policies are all about prevention focus, whereas
making bets and gambling are geared for a promotion focus.

By pairing your preference for a certain focus (achievement or avoidance) with strategies that match
that preference, you increase your odds of sticking to your resolution.  If you want to get to the gym
everyday, there are two ways you can word a strategy for doing so.

One strategy can be worded as, “I won’t miss a day in the gym,” which is a prevention/avoidance focus.
The other way would be saying, “I will get to the gym everyday,” which is a promotion/achievement
focus.

Is this simple semantics? Research has shown that the more aligned a strategy is with a certain goal,
the more it “feels right.”  The more your resolution or goal “feels right” the more likely you are to persist
with the goal thereby increasing your motivation for achieving that goal.  Both of these points are
significant.


Your to do: Figure out your preference by thinking of your resolution.

Most people have a preference for either a promotion/achievement or prevention/avoidance focus.
How are you wording it?  Is it going towards something you want to achieve or is it geared towards
avoiding something?

Think of 5 other goals you may have.  These can range from making more money or spending more
time with friends or family.  How are you wording these other goals?  Between these 6 goals, figure out
which was both easier for you to think of (achieving or avoiding) and which one came up more
frequently.  Going forward, match the strategies of those goals with the focus you have.   For example, here are the first 3.

Goal # 1 ________________________________________
Is this goal Promotion or Prevention focus? ____________________________
Ease of Making this goal on Scale of 1 -6 where 1 is easy and 6 is Difficult: _______

Goal # 2 ________________________________________
Is this goal Promotion or Prevention focus? ____________________________
Ease of Making this goal on Scale of 1 -6 where 1 is easy and 6 is Difficult: _______

Goal # 3 ________________________________________
Is this goal Promotion or Prevention focus? ____________________________
Ease of Making this goal on Scale of 1 -6 where 1 is easy and 6 is Difficult: _______

Add up how many of your goals have a promotion or prevention focus.

If you’re split down the middle, you might not necessarily have a preference overall.  If you have a slight
preference and you should align your strategies with your goals.  If you have a very specific preference
(5 to 1 or 6 to 0), you should not only match the strategies to your goals, but you should also become
more keenly aware of how advertisers and marketers will be pulling your strings by playing to your
preference.

Take into account the ease of which you made that particular goal.  If you have a score of 4 or higher,
then it may not make much of a difference to you of achieving that goal.  If on the other hand, the goal
was easy to make and you used a specific preferred preference, that’s when you should align your
strategy to match that preference.

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