Episode 143 – The Power of Setting Good Extrinsic Goals

Written by Jonathan

We spend a lot of time talking about goal setting and I tend to focus on intrinsic goals a lot because at the end of the day if you want to make long-term change stick you really need to be motivated internally with an intense desire to improve, for yourself, the problem with focusing only on internal motivation and setting internal goals is that sometimes you end up misguided, misguided might be the wrong word, but moving without direction or making decisions and losing sight of the whole big picture of your life, today I want to talk about how you can use extrinsic goals to guide you and help keep a bit of that required fire underneath you.

But, that’s not all, it’s also fun day Friday so stick around until the end of the show because we’re giving away a free lifetime membership to our online fitness and lifestyle design community where we have hundreds of exercise programs and a dozen courses to help guide you into being the healthiest version of yourself. If you would like to be entered into this random draw all you have to do is leave us an iTunes rating and review, now let’s get to it.

Before we talk about what extrinsic goals you should set, you should understand what extrinsic goals are, these are goals that are externally earned. It’s the trophy you win at the end of a sporting event, it’s the raise you earn when you get promoted at work and it’s the praise you get in an Instagram post when you show everyone your new ’6 pack’ and well defined glutes.

But there’s also another way to look at external motivation and that’s through the lens of avoiding pain. If you hear yourself saying,

‘I’m going to lose weight because my co-workers make fun of me for being fat’ or ‘I’m going to finish this race because my parents said I couldn’t do it.’ That’s external motivation as well because you’re trying to change another person’s perception of you and prove them wrong, but the reality is you don’t have control over their thoughts so that can and often will be a losing battle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful.

Often we have to hit a pain point in our lives or our perception of impending pain has to be big enough that the consequence of not changing out-weigh’s the immediate gratification of staying the same and it is at that point we will be 100% committed to making a change.  This is where extrinsic goals can be hugely important, they are what sets the ground rules for all the decisions you make going forward.  I want to finish this half marathon, I want to lose 20 pounds, I want to be able to do 50 push-ups, it doesn’t matter as long as you set the goal, once you set the goal it informs all your actions going forward. When you have a decision to make you can go back to your goal and your decisions become easy, does this move me closer to my goal, if yes then you do it, if it moves you further from your goal then don’t and use the negative energy you get from the naysayers around you and you move forward with a bit of a chip on your shoulder as your motivation.

If you have a clear goal, vision and a little chip on you shoulder it can go along way to helping you make good changes, especially in the beginning.

Extrinsic goals are great to get you started and great to help you make decisions, but at some point some intrinsic motivation needs to take over, when you’re training for your half marathon it means at some point your self-talk has to change from ‘I’ll show them to,’ ‘wow, I can’t believe how good running makes me feel or ‘I didn’t realize push-ups would make my chest muscles so defined, being able to literally build my body makes me feel great. There’s no silver bullet for being able to make this mind shift, because everyone is a little bit different. There are things you can do to help though, track your progress towards your goal, this can be as simple as a tally sheet or a fancy app on your iPhone it doesn’t matter as long as it shows your improvement. Another thing you can do is journal, journal about how you feel, how you’re improving, what you’re thankful for, your energy levels it doesn’t matter as long as it’s about you and it shows your personal improvement or how what you’re doing is improving someone else life.

If you’re unable to make that shift at some point you’ll become disappointed that nothing has really changed when you reach that goal, except now you’re holding a trophy, which is only nice for a week and if you still have that chip on your shoulder you’ll be left asking, ‘now what?’



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