Motivation monday: becoming process-driven

This morning I woke up to the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops on my roof. Sometimes getting out the door for a run when it’s raining is difficult (which is why I wrote a whole post devoted to the power of narratives and how helpful positive self-talk can be). Today wasn’t one of those days though. I was SO excited to get out for my run and try out some of the techniques that I learned about in the Chi Running workshop that I took yesterday! I was thrilled to put on my bright orange raincoat and head out the door.


The workshop was incredible and warrants its own post. I learned so much: some of it is still sinking in, but I will re-cap the whole day soon. 

Today’s post is about motivation and goal setting. The inspiration for this post came from  Bevin James Eyles who is a fitness instructor with a GREAT podcast series about developing life habits. I highly recommend you check him out. He has an awesome New Zealand accent

The question for the day is: what motivates you? I personally am a huge fan of setting goals, and when I have a big goal in mind I am pretty good at diving in and working towards that goal with all of my brain, body, and heart. Setting goals is great, it gives you purpose and direction. Fixating on goals can actually be an impediment towards achieving at your highest potential. 

Bear with me for a second and I’ll explain my logic with a few examples. The first time I trained for a marathon I suffered a stress fracture in my right heal that put me on crutches for two weeks and sidelined me from running for three months. It was terrible. In retrospect, the reason I injured myself is because I was following a training plan that was incredibly aggressive and I had bitten off more than I could chew. It had long runs directly followed by speed work and alarming amounts of junk mileage.  I was following a training plan that was COMPLETELY inappropriate for me because I was more fixated on the end result (the marathon) than the steps I needed to take to successfully REACH that result (i.e. taking care of my body, building my mileage gradually, resting). I was a completely goal-oriented athlete, and because I ignored the actual day-to-day processes that would have been crucial to get me to that goal, I flamed out epically!

Similarly, in my scientific life it is always important to focus on the big picture question  What am I going to learn from this experiment? However, if you spend 100% of the time thinking about the big picture question and not being careful and mindful in doing the day to day experiments themselves, the results of those experiments will be uninterpretable (sloppy work yields sloppy results). Consistent reproducible experiments lead to understanding and breakthroughs.

One last example. I find this concept easiest to embrace in my yoga practice. Yoga is GREAT for becoming process driven–it is uncompetitive by nature….there’s no such thing as “winning at yoga,” every time you step on the mat you have the opportunity to be a beginner all over again (and my runners’ hamstrings agree with that fact). Yoga itself is intended to be a life-long practice. The goal of yoga is always simply just to do more yoga. 

Or to do yoga in front of the capitol building

Don’t get me wrong- the big picture goals are incredibly important. They keep you moving forward. Big picture goals can also become a hindrance: they can be daunting. It’s easy to fixate on how far away they seem. If you focus on the PROCESSES you put in place to achieve those goals, you can celebrate each step along the way and look back at how far you have come. 

So that’s what I’ve been ruminating on lately. Does anyone out there in blog-land have any thought on being process-driven versus results-driven? I think that both have their merits, but I am trying to be more process-driven in my own life. If you’ll excuse one more cliche from this little blogging space-cadet: it’s all about the journey, not the destination. 

OK- two more things: my “easy cruise pace” on this morning’s 5-miler was 10 seconds per mile faster than usual, and it didn’t feel like an effort at all. Chi Running is AWESOME. Also- if your shoes get soaked on a rainy run the best way to dry them out is to stuff them with newspaper.



Over and out!



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