bigstock-Wild-Horses-Drinking-In-Pond-41586466I’ve been thinking about a twist on the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Here’s it is: “If you lead a horse to water, he is a whole lot more likely to drink.  Plus – sometimes blinders will help him get there.”

Let me explain.  I have been talking with the participants in my “Find Your Road to Health” course this week about how difficult it can be to set an ambitious health goal and commit fully to pursuing it.

We talked about establishing motivational, positive goals like “I will lose 30 lbs and feel energetic so that I can play and work hard and enjoy my life.”  Or  “I will become pain-free and feel strong in my body so that I can enjoy my family and friends.”

The inspiration and motivation from a goal like that can “lead a horse to water.” It can help move you toward whatever it is you need to do to get healthy.

Setting those goals is a great first step for getting healthy, but the truth is, it can also bring up a lot of tough emotions:

  1. Maybe you don’t fully believe that your ambitious goal is possible.  So, it feels inauthentic.
  2. It could feel overwhelming to think about all that you might need to do to achieve that ambitious goal.  That could lead to fear, paralysis and inaction.
  3. You might feel like you need to do more research and understand your body, your health challenge and current medical practices better to know how you healthy you could actually get.
  4. You might have doubts about your own ability to do the work necessary to achieve the goal.
  5. And on and on . . .


So, here’s what I figured out this week.  Setting that ambitious goal will begin to lead the horse to water.  It is worth it to create that goal and face yourself in its direction, even if it brings up tough emotions.  But, once you set that goal, in order to help you move forward and not get spooked, sometimes you may need to put on blinders.  Sometimes you may need to focus only on what is right ahead of you and not get distracted by the bigger picture for a little while.

For example, I went to the gym this morning to do the 45-minute workout prescribed by my physical therapist for my bad knee.   But, when I got there, I didn’t feel motivated to go in.  Instead I sat in the car in the parking lot, replying to emails and looking at my Facebook newsfeed.  Why didn’t I go in? Lots of reasons. It felt like a waste of time when I had a gzillion things to do at home.   I sometimes don’t enjoy my workout.  I sometimes doubt how helpful it is to my injured knee.  As long as I let myself get distracted by all that, I was too worked up, stressed out and discombobulated to go have a good workout.  I was stuck in the car, which was really ridiculous.

Finally, I realized that what I had to do right then was not finish everything waiting for me at home, heal my knee or even have a good workout.  I needed to put blinders on and ignore all of that for the moment.  I coudl think about all that another time.  All I needed to do right then was open the door and get out of the car.  I could manage that.  Once I got out of the car, I just needed to walk in the door of the gym.  Once I got in the door, I just had to get a drink and head to the first machine.  Now that I had lead my horse to the water (with blinders on), it was much more likely that he was going to drink. I had a good workout.

What do you think? Does an ambitious health goal help motivate you?  Would blinders help you get moving sometimes?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.