Asking the right questions to get started on your health journey
More often than not, starting a new chapter in your life is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Even training for a marathon, however physically demanding, takes mental discipline and the willingness to push yourself when your body feels like there is no more gas in the tank. We often see professional athletes use their bodies in ways we can’t fathom, tapping into an energy source that seems limitless. How do they do it?
Rootine has partnered with Marc Champagne, author of Personal Socrates, to discuss the importance of asking questions – and asking the right questions – to clear your mind, motivate yourself on your health journey and keep you on track to reach your goals. As Marc points out in his book, you are one question away from a different life, and the questions you ask yourself matter, both in the short and long terms.
The Socratic Method
What originated over 2,000 years ago is still a valuable way of getting to the root of any motivation, goal, or assumption. The Socratic Method involves asking a continuous set of probing questions to gain insights into your thoughts and provide a greater method of reflection by developing a mental fitness to improve your questions, and thus improve your choices.
The method can be applied to any part of your life you feel needs work, including your health. Many people want to start their journeys to better health and performance but don’t know where to begin. This often manifests in the form of a surge in gym memberships every January 1st, with a drop off later in the winter and spring months, or in crash diets that fail to produce lasting, long-term effects.
Both long- and short-term goals are needed to make for an effective, meaningful health journey. The Socratic Method allows you to find answers to both by asking yourself the right questions, which then help you find purpose while also allowing you to create a strategy that aligns with your mission.
Your body will do the work your mind requests of it – you just need to start by asking the right questions and exercising your mental fitness, as well as your physical fitness.
Why You Need to Ask Questions about Your Specific Goals
Having a specific health goal in mind is a great place to start. It can help you with figuring out a schedule to reach your goals and make it easier to strategize best ways for you to accomplish what you set out to do.
But what about getting there? And what happens when you reach the finish line?
Health goals are sometimes identified by numbers. I want to lose XX pounds, or I want to work out XX times a week, or walk XX steps in a day. But is this the right way to frame your goal? Is your focus in the right area? Let’s start by posing a more general question you should ask yourself before embarking on your health journey.
Why do I want to do this for myself?
This might seem too vague to tackle, but take it step by step. A big part of your overall strategy is being honest with yourself and understanding the why behind your health goals. You can start with broader ideas and narrow them down as you dig deeper with your questions.
Example: Am I trying to feel better? Yes. Okay, what does feeling better mean for me? Am I trying to have more energy, be happier, be stronger, increase my endurance, be more productive, improve my nutrition? The list goes on. Even within these categories you can continue asking yourself questions to narrow down a specific intent behind your goal. Sometimes you might even realize your goal is backed by an intention you don’t really value, which can lead you to reflect on what is important and bring clarity to other aspects of your life.
This method of asking questions will also give your journey a purpose. A purpose gives your mission meaning and makes the numbers stepping stones rather than the ultimate objective. Many people who focus on the end goal rather than the purpose and journey fail to find fulfillment or inspire impactful reflection that leads to greater mental fitness.
If You Have an Inspirational Goal but Need to Follow Through
If you instead have a health goal that seems too general or vague, however inspirational it may be, it can be tough for you to know where to start or how exactly to tackle it. This leads many to give up before they even start to make progress, simply because they feel preemptively defeated without having a concrete plan, which stems from not asking the right questions.
Example: I want to improve my lifestyle to be healthier. The next questions you should be asking are: what specific areas do I want to improve, is there a certain fitness regimen I want to adapt to, can I solve for any nutrient deficiencies I may be experiencing? Getting to the specifics of your objective is an important part of creating a schedule that works for you and gives you smaller goals to reach within your larger mission.
Setting specific goals is an important step in tracking your progress. Tracking your progress can either motivate you to work harder or lead you to reassess your strategy – either way you are inching closer to accomplishing your goal and learning important lessons along the way. Figuring out what doesn’t work for you can be as effective as figuring out what does.
Once you have both your broader mission and smaller objectives set, it is important to engage in self-inquiry throughout your journey. Stimulating your mental fitness leads to benefits that extend beyond any immediate goals, including improved mental clarity, targeted intention-setting, and an inspired motivation to achieve what may seem impossible. Even a few minutes of deep reflection a day can set the tone for your week, help you find a greater purpose within yourself, and, with consistent practice, lead to a more fulfilling life.
Developing a plan to reach your goal through productive self-inquiry is like setting down the foundations for a new road. Reap the fruits of your labor and take a drive down that road towards new growth and possibilities. You might just surprise yourself.
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About Marc Champagne
Marc Champagne unpacks the mental fitness practices and reflective questions shaping the lives of some of the most successful and brilliant thinkers in the world. He is the author of Personal Socrates, a book exploring the pointed questions that stimulate our mental fitness and teach us how to direct our internal narrative to work for us instead of against us. Marc studies the prompts and practices of legends such as Kobe Bryant, Maya Angelou, Robin Williams, James Clear, Coco Chanel, Stephen Hawking, and many others to bring clarity, intentionality, and possibility to every aspect of your life.