Last week we explored the Goldilocks Rule about goal setting, but there’s an even more effective way to set and stick to your goals. The problem is, it’s hard to figure out. It’s a concept in goal setting referred to as ‘Higher Purpose’ and it happens when we really figure out the ‘why’. Why are we working toward this goal? If our only purpose in exercising is to ‘lose a few inches’, most of us won’t stay with it for very long. But let’s say you’re a professional woman climbing the corporate ladder. While it’s not right that men and women get judged by different standards, you know that your chances of getting that next promotion go way up if you look great in that business suit. You have found a ‘higher purpose’ – something that’s not just important to you, but integral to your life plan. This is a very powerful motivator.
Your Higher Purpose May Change Over Time
For myself, I started lifting weights at a young age. I was sixteen, I was very skinny and I noticed that big guys automatically got treated with respect, while everyone treated me like a kid. I wanted respect. So I started working out. It took a long time to achieve my goal of putting on an extra 15 kilos of muscle, but when I did, I found that I was right. Large, powerfully built men get automatic respect. Small men don’t. It’s not right, but that’s the way it is.
Now that I’m much older my Higher Purpose has changed. I have a strong aversion to allowing the effects of age to catch up with me. Almost everyone I know my age is overweight, weak and sick. They’re on medication for something. They have some kind of chronic health problem. Most of them can’t climb three flights of stairs without being out of breath. I am afraid, on a visceral level, of ending up like that, so I train obsessively to stay physically young, strong and fit. It might be self-serving, but avoiding old age for as long as humanly possible has become my higher purpose. And it works. It’s a powerful motivator. Far more so than simply wanting to look good naked. Sure, working out at 6 a.m. is hard, but the alternative, growing old before I absolutely have to, is unacceptable to me.
How to Find Your Higher Purpose
You’re going to need to reach deep inside yourself and find what really motivates you. You may have to be honest with yourself and admit to what scares you the most, as I’ve done. You may have to allow yourself to be a little shallow and look for the thing you want most for yourself. Somewhere inside you, though, is your personal Higher Purpose. The thing that will drive you to exercise and eat right, even on the days when you really don’t want to – because the alternative is unacceptable.