Focus On The Short Term

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Goodbye 2009
Kansas Poetry (Patrick)

By human nature we can tend to see things long term, how they will look and feel at the end of the journey when we fail to realise the biggest benefits and feelings of joy come in the moment and can be discovered right away.

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take for instance losing weight or gaining muscle. Both of these things require a healthy diet and usually some sort of exercise which can have huge benefits as of right now, so instead of eating a certain way in search of your dream body which is a distant picture realise that being healthy has immediate effects.

Let’s start with diet. If you start eating well today you will start to get pretty much immediate effects, for instance:

  • Improved mood
  • Better Skin
  • Improved Digestion
  • Less aches and pains
  • Improved self esteem
  • A feeling of achievement

Try to make a list of things eating healthfully makes you feel within a few days, the way you feel after a healthy nutritious meal as oppose to how you feel after a load of junk.

The same goes for exercising. Many people are put off exercising as they see it as something long term, something that needs to get rolling before results come in. This could not be further from the truth as exercise provides pretty much instant benefits. You will feel:

  • More relaxed
  • Be able to think with more clarity
  • Improved digestion
  • A sense of satisfaction and achievement.

These things will come instantly, well as soon as you have finished some kind of physical activity and usually they will stay with you for the rest of the day. Sure you will not get instant 10lbs fat loss or huge muscles from a single workout or even a weeks worth of workouts but the effects will soon accumulate.

Focus on Immediate Benefits

And you will be more likely to not only start something but continue with it. I am not a fan of having long term set in stone goals as I feel they put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and can sometimes be unattainable. Better is to have a rough idea of what you want to achieve and go about doing what needs to be done.

There are always variables when achieving something – Health, life circumstances, social events, financial situation, time, work etc… the list goes on. What I am trying to say is that life crops up with all kinds of surprises, some good and some bad. Either way they have to be dealt with or enjoyed in spite of what goals you may have set yourself.

Focusing on the Now - overcomes this problem right away, as you are doing things with not only a long term vision but also appreciating the immediate and short terms benefits of your actions. It is fact that we are usually motivated by the long term benefits of our actions, this is great but it often leads us to forgetting what cool stuff comes in the short term.

It is too easy to overlook what we gain from our actions right away. At the end of the day our motivation will never stick if it is always in search of something distant.

With the examples above I have applied this to diet and exercise but I think it can be applied to pretty much anything in life – Think of relationships or work, when you stop to appreciate the what you get instantly out of taking positive steps and putting in consistent effort in these parts of your life, it is easy to see that the effort pays off with the feelings generated and appreciation from others. Try and see things for what they will give you right now as opposed to a path to a distant goal…….

I wanted to write this article as I have seen too many people recently who can’t get on the bandwagon with eating well or exercising as they fail to appreciate that it will make them feel good in a matter of days. People tell me that they don’t want to start something as their goal seems so far away and out of reach. This is all perspective that needs to be switched. The goal is to look at what “instant gratification” so to speak that will come from taking positive steps in life…..

Comments

  1. Cailen says

    Great advice! It’s so easy to get caught up initially with the long term benefits – the dream at the end of the tunnel – but when the long term benefits don’t show up immediately, people so often lose motivation and stop. Focusing on the short term, immediate rewards is a fabulous way to enjoy the advantages of living a healthier life while keeping on track with your long term goals! This tactic worked for me in the past.

    Best,
    Cailen
    writer, blogger, author

  2. Gabe says

    And sometimes thinking about the short term can make you leave you surprised when you suddenly realize the long-term progress you’ve been making all the while.

    Last fall, as winter set in, I resigned myself to “maintenance mode” on the treadmill when subzero temps kept me from running outdoors. I just tried for a hard workout a couple times a week on the treadmill, figuring I’d get my chops back when spring came.

    Spring came. First day of outdoor running I flew – shaved 10 minutes off of last fall’s regular 5 mile run without feeling like I was working hard at all. It was great to see the gains, especially since I wasn’t dwelling on the struggle all winter.

    @ Gabe: Awesome contribution. The fact that you kept chipping away in spite of the weather shows what this is all about. You focused on doing what you enjoyed in spite of external factors and without a long term goal, all paid off in the end!

  3. Deb says

    Very good point. Small or short term goals are much easier to meet and add up over time to the long term goals!

  4. weightlossguru says

    I think your blog is fantastic and totally inspirational. I would like to feature some of your stuff on my site.

    Let me know if you are interested.

    Take care

    Pete

  5. ChristineWithRegence says

    Great tips! For ideas on how you can take charge of your own health care, check out Whatstherealcost.org

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