So far in my life I have tried green-tea detox for 3 days, vegan for 14 days, HIIT training for 6 months, boot camp for 4 months, boxing for 3 months, and cycling for 1 month. This is added to 12 years of trying, sticking, failing, and succeeding at yoga, hot yoga, pilates, outdoor cycling, indoor and outdoor running, and lifting weights.
And yet I have always asked myself one question:
“What’s so idyllic about finding new ways to go about something that can be achieved in one simple way?”
Instead of an answer, I found this analogy. Perhaps in exercise there isn’t one way? As there isn’t one body type, or one eating habit, or one great training class or coach or eating plan? Maybe it’s more simplistic than that? The crave for spontaneity, adventure, a challenge, or a break from a well-established routine, is after all, sometimes the only thing one needs? And in exercise, isn’t that the ultimate philosophy? To ‘shock’ your body? To avoid ‘routine’? To keep it ‘challenging’? To keep it ‘new’?
When I was writing my research paper for my master’s program I remember my supervisor telling me this: “The day you can explain, without hesitation, your research topic to a complete stranger, and they understand it, is the day you will know how to conduct your research”. And he was right. It took me a year and a half to conduct my research, and it wasn’t until submission day, on my walk back to the car, had I grasped the full idea of what I had been searching for. The truth is, rhetoric is not as simple as it may seem. Understanding something simply and simply understanding something are two distinctive things –entirely.
However, the general intake from his advice was more symbolic to me: there are always underlying factors that inhibit our understanding of one thing or another until we, as required, are prepared to be fully comprehensive of our objective. My intake from trying out different exercises and eating plans kept the challenge alive and well, but perhaps all I needed was to be honest with myself first. That beginning sentence ‘My goal is …’ is very difficult to sum up on a lined piece of paper for many reasons. And one is, coming up with a comprehensive (and very often rhetoric) plan is a task I avoid—and dread.
The ghastly truth of a penned goal is the haunting realization that one can fail.
That on its own can be a circumvented disappointment.
But that’s not the ultimate purpose of a goal? Just like in research, the end result is not dependent on the hypothesis; in fact, a sway from it strengthens it, even enriches it. The cycle of learning, enhancing, adjusting, continuously is one that comes parallel to learning and growing. Then change comes. All great research depended on that. And if the research metaphor isn’t registering, should they, the fixed expression claims: goals are meant to be broken.
Perhaps that’s it? My supervisor’s outlook on my research paper is the outlook I should adopt in eating healthy and exercising? Understand my goal, write it down, then dig, dig deep, and deeper until I fully conjure a clear manifestation of how I am going to achieve that goal…I almost feel like I should create a proposal plan.
Nonetheless, I did. I wrote a clear goal down on paper and a plan on how I want to achieve that goal.
Will I succeed? Probably, and probably not.
And it is simply because,
rather than research, our brains are great displays of impeccable work and to begin to understand their function requires digging up, not information, but Freud himself.