Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Pushing your limits is hard work. Performing a Personal Best (PR) is an activity that is uncomfortable, which prevents most people from achieving the goal in the first place. The resistance our body gives us and the negative signals we get from our brain makes us reassess the situation and try to find another way to release those sweet, sweet endorphins. However, for an individual that tests themselves regularly with a PR, the discomfort that comes with the movement becomes fuel for the process itself.
When I was growing up, I frequently heard “no pain no gain” when I struggled with motivation. I didn’t have enough experience to understand what the “no pain no gain” mantra meant at the time, though. I took the saying to mean “this is going to hurt like hell - what can I do to get out of it?” But as an adult, the pain I had associated with training transformed slowly into motivation. Although the notion that you have to train until you are sore has been debunked, the truth is that to achieve a goal, you have to be prepared to deal with the lack of comfort.
After a few years of weight training, I noticed a change in my daily mindset. My time away from the gym transformed pain and discomfort into a marker system of measurement for me, and the pain was less of a barrier preventing me from doing the activity. I wanted to feel the pain, because the pain was proof that my body was building itself. More importantly, I discovered when I pushed myself to achieve my PR, I could create confidence that carried over into my daily life.
As a parent, my job isn’t just to babysit my kids. I am responsible for helping create their self-efficacy. If I can help them achieve self-efficacy by creating the four main sources of influence: (i) mastery experiences, (ii) vicarious experiences, (iii) social persuasion, and (iv) emotional states, then I am doing my job to help create self-sufficient adults.
Self-efficacy, a concept originally proposed by the psychologist Albert Bandura, refers to an individual's belief in their capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. It is the belief a person has in their ability to attain results, to meet the challenges ahead of them, and to influence events that affect their own lives. This self-concept is essential in everything we do, from daily chores to major difficulties like chronic illnesses.
A person who is struggling to manage a chronic illness, but who feels confident that they can get back on track and improve their health by working hard and following their doctor's recommendations, is someone who has self-efficacy. Pushing past the emotional and physical discomfort of the processes, we find ourselves on the other side of the achievement. Looking from the perspective of the accomplished goal fills our confidence with the input that we are strong and capable. When we witness ourselves accomplishing something, we believe that more accomplishments are ahead of us. This pushes us beyond bodybuilding and into body-and-soul building.
To fast track yourself into self-efficacy, you need to set goals and achieve those goals. If walking a mile is a hard thing to imagine doing, check with your doctor and get clearance to do just that. Once you have walked that mile, set a goal of walking two miles. Imagine how you will feel once you can easily walk three miles. We find success attractive; therefore, success makes us attractive to ourselves. Achieving goals shatters the perception of our limitations. This is what a PR is all about.
John “Wyld Stile” Larson