Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.
What makes someone keep going to the gym, or keep healthier eating behaviours long term?
As a coach I was running into a wall of sorts, getting stuck at the same junction with several clients. I would give them what I felt at the time was appropriate support and decently structured programming and advice for their specific circumstances in order to meet their desired training and nutrition outcomes. But they just weren’t progressing, repeating old behaviours and not really adhering to structure. This was understandably frustrating, however, it is an important lesson to learn that you can only control your actions, not their outcomes. Take that to whatever level of abstraction you wish.
Following this stalemate in my brain, I decided to seek the help of a sports psychologist, Zoe Black for those curious, highly advise a follow.
Up till this point, the only tool in my box regarding psychological stuff was all cognitive behavioural therapy-based, which I never really felt appropriate in the coaching sphere, it always felt very reactive, very much after the fact. Zoe introduced me to ACT (acceptance commitment training) which, to try and summarise, is about finding out what your core values are, what things you really care about on the deepest level, and then living and committing to them.
How does one find their meaningful values? Well everyone’s values will be different and there are no ‘correct’ values, so the only person who can answer that question is you, however, we’re going to go through some prompts to try and help you find them.
Here are some probing questions, really give them some thought:
All of these prompts require some pretty deep level thought, and once you have your list, I highly advise physically writing them down, you have your compass sorted! Unfortunately, that’s the easy bit over, the rest is using these values to direct your choices. This may involve choosing options that you currently find uncomfortable, which leads to another key point of value-driven action.
Sometimes things are scary, leaving a job, starting something new, making a big commitment, however, it’s important to accept that these are scary but to do them anyway. The potential positives of just taking the step whilst also accepting how you feel about it will vastly improve how you feel, even if the decision ends up being negative, it’s about the fact that you chose to do it because it aligns with qualities you deeply value.
In summary, establishing meaningful value is just one facet of the flexible psychology model that is ACT, and you will need to ask yourself some fairly introspective questions about what is meaningful to you (not anyone else) and then once you establish those values, use them to help you navigate difficult choices you come across in your life.
For anyone interested in further reading on this stuff, googling:
- ACT (acceptance commitment therapy/training)
- Cognitive Diffusion
- Being Present
- Self as Context
All of these are the core tenants of ACT and several will feature in more of our upcoming articles. Hope you found this helpful, and if you want to reach out and discuss anything mentioned please feel free on our socials or in the comments.