Last night, I was scheduled to meet a client at the gym. We ended up canceling the session because my client wasn’t feeling well, but we had a nice chat instead. The conversation was primarily focused on motivation, doing what we say we will, and achieving our goals. It was far more valuable than any workout would have been.

Often times people just think I teach people how to exercise, but that is only a fraction of what training is to me. My real purpose is to make people the best version of themselves possible.

That mission includes the physical goals that most people start training for, but it also encompasses everything about the person.

In the case of my client last night, our conversation quickly shifted from needing to cancel the workout to what it means to set goals and work towards them, how valuable our word is, and what it means to make a commitment to ourselves or others.

As we were talking, my all time favorite quote came to mind:

“Your actions reflect your goals” — Ken Blanchard

I believe that most stress we experience comes from internal conflict related to this statement. We realize, either consciously or not, that our actions are not in line with our goals and that creates stress. The stress may present itself differently for each of us, but it’s always there when we are not doing what we know we should be.

Most people will immediately turn to judgment when faced with this quote. “I’m a terrible person for not doing what I wanted to.” This is the wrong approach. No judgment needs to be tied to this reflection at all. It serves no purpose and only depresses us further.

The best way to handle discrepancies between our actions and goals is to realize you have two options: change your goals, or change your actions.

Usually, this is a call to action. Change your actions is the default solution because we set our goals for a reason, we want to attain them, and anything less than completion feels like a failure.

But this is another place to avoid judgment. It truly doesn’t matter which option you choose. Sometimes picking a more realistic goal is the best option and there is no reason to be disappointed by that. Other times, we just need to fix our actions and get back to work.

A funny thing happens when someone really internalizes this process and makes the required change. All the stress starts to go away. We realize our actions are in line with our goals and we become centered. It’s really magical to see happen in others and quite comforting when it happens to us.

The next time you start feeling stress or disappointment about you are you doing with your life, remember that your actions reflect your goals. Decide whether it is best to change your actions or your goals. Then do it. Either pick a goal that you can act on or get to work and reach the goal you’ve already set.

For my client, this lesson will do far more than any weight we could have lifted last night. My hope is that she’ll keep this lesson with her forever and use it over and over again.

Once a workout is complete, it’s over. There’s nothing else to gain from it. Training, however, provides us with lessons that last a lifetime. Make sure your training is improving your life as well as your body.