Aesthetic vs performance goals

In this post we’ll walk you through the types of goals and how we learnt about them, hoping to give you insight on how you can set your own goals!

Created by – The Delhi Girl

AESTHETIC GOALS

P: Last year I  remember laying on the sofa in my living room scrolling through Spotify when I came across the Kinetic Living podcast. It was started by Coach Urmi aka Urmi Kothari, Nike trainer, and founder of Kinetic living. Her simple philosophy is, “train the mind through the body”. 

Yup that’s Coach Urmi for you
Photo Credits – kinetic Living

What hooked me to the podcast was her talk with Rohan Joshi, an Indian comedian, founder of AIB (All India Bakchod.) who coincidently was an alumnus of my college. 

Credits: SoundCloud

Through the podcast, I got an  Indian perspective of fitness. Together they introduced me to two types of fitness goals ‘Aesthetics Goals’ working out to improve the way you look which is purely outcome-driven and ‘Performance Goals’ improve the process, get stronger, lift heavier & improve balance.

I was mesmerised by these new revelations. Which got me reflecting on all my previous failed attempts in fitness. In my earlier post, I had mentioned that I had lost my purpose to work out once I got back from London. It was because I had aesthetic goals and once I reached that, nothing motivated me to stay.

k:  I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with setting aesthetic goals at the beginning of your journey–they can be a powerful motivator, and anything that motivates you to stay on your path is a good thing.

The problem with aesthetic goals is that once you achieve them, you lose your sense of purpose. Or worse, that your aesthetic goals are unhealthy or unrealistic.

However, one thing you need to remember is that these aesthetic goals will not make for a sustainable journey. To me, a sustainable fitness journey is one that is lifelong and can fit seamlessly into your daily schedule (once you’ve worked hard initially to establish it, of course).

The Silver Lining

So while starting with the aim of achieving your aesthetic goals is not wrong, you will find that if you want your journey to be healthy for your mind and body, performance-based goals are what will keep you going.

Performance Goals

k: Retraining your mind to think in terms of performance goals can be difficult, but when you start thinking about these goals in terms of the potential your body has to do certain things, it begins to become a bit easier.

P: That’s exactly what I started doing. I started setting smaller more actionable steps to reach my goals. For example, in Week 1, I set a goal to squat 10 repetitions in under 30 seconds, then week 2 was 12 repetitions in under 30 seconds. Like this, I always had something to strive for. In the words of the bestselling author, James Clear in his book, ‘Atomic Habits’ said, “If you really love the goal, you’ll focus on the systems or process.”  

K: Same for me, When I first started working out, I absolutely hated doing burpees. A singular burpee contains different kinds of movement, and executing all of them at the same time can be challenging. As a beginner, my form was weak, and I didn’t possess the endurance to last till the end of an interval (30/45 seconds depending on the style of the workout). I made a promise to myself that each day, I would try to dread burpees a little less. Things are very different now, and I actually enjoy burpees when they show up in the programming of the workout! Of course, this change didn’t happen overnight, but as I exercised more and worked on my strength, the task at hand became less arduous. 

P: Setting performance goals for myself didn’t come naturally at the start for me. Because a)The fitness influencers I followed on Instagram or Youtube never spoke about their journeys or process & b) neither did my immediate friends or family nor even gym instructors ever talk about it. And if I’m being candid, it truly never occurred to me that fitness can be a “habit” or “lifestyle”. No wonder why I didn’t know any better. According to PPC Protect, the average joe watches 6,000-10,000 ads per day!


If we are bombarded with this sort of persistent messaging of  “quick results”, “abs in 7 days” there isn’t time to step back and reflect on what we are taking in.

The Delhi Girl Explores

K:  In today’s world, attention is currency, and even the most well-meaning of people will resort to extreme measures to direct more eyes their way. Being inundated with videos that promise to give you a six-pack in two weeks or a smaller waist in 10 days can wreak havoc on your mental wellbeing, even if you know better.

For me, looking at what my body could do/had the potential to do rather than berating it for what it couldn’t do or what it didn’t look like was the game-changer. The shape of the body staring back at me in the mirror began to matter less than the fact that I was able to lift heavier weights and last longer during the workouts!

P: You have put it across so beautifully. It’s true our trainer, Sydney Cummings, an ex division 1 athlete says in her motivational cooldown talks, “It’s a challenging task, don’t put yourself down with your own words. Instead, remove the mental load and free yourself from the burden.”

I hope this post has given you some insight into the kinds of goals you can make for yourself. In the next post, we will talk about the power of our mind

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