Despite what the recent wave of unseasonably warm weather would have you believe, winter is coming. And with the new year right around the corner, so are the ads for gym memberships promising low, low rates, and so is the inevitable promises on January 1 to do better than last year. Maybe you want to lose 10 lbs. Maybe you want to save more money. The unfortunate reality is many people will FAIL. I know I have in the past. But why is it so hard to stick to New Year’s resolutions? And are there any ways to make it a easier to grow and change from one year to the next? I believe that answer is a resounding YES.
How to Succeed
Failing to stick to your resolutions isn’t much different from failing that 11th grade chemistry exam back in the day – you procrastinated and showed up unprepared. Contrary to popular belief, January 1st actually isn’t the starting point of change – it is a deadline to have all the preparation and research completed. Having a strategy will you give you the highest odds of achieving what you set out to accomplish. And every good plan starts with a goal.
1. Goal Setting
What do you want to change? Goals need to be challenging, realistic and measurable. To really give yourself a kick in the butt, set a time sensitive deadline as well. It boggles my mind when I hear people want to “lose weight” or “get stronger”. That’s like taking a cab in NYC and telling the driver to “go north” and expecting him to drive you to the bar all your friends are at. How much do you want to weigh? How much do you want to squat? When do you want to hit that milestone? Those goals can have a road map to success. Keep them tangible and concrete. Keep the goals low in number – the more things you try to change, the less attention you can devote to each, making you less likely to accomplish anything.
After writing down your goals, do a self assessment. Ask yourself questions like these, and be honest!
Why do I want this?
Have I tried to accomplish this before?
Was I successful? Why or why not?
What changes can I make to my daily life to reach my goal?
Once you really understand your internal motivation, everything going forward needs to relate back to it. If you aren’t connected to your “why”, you are more likely to quit as soon as the process gets challenging. If you want to lose weight, your why might be so you can live long enough to raise your kids. Your why might be to look great in your wedding pictures. I care way more about having a why versus what your why is.
3. Plan of attack
Now it’s time to map out a strategy focused on action. Do a ton of research. Find people who have done what you have done and study them. Buy a book off Amazon.
What will you do each and every day?
What is your plan if you slip up?
What situations will be difficult for you, and what strategy do you have to navigate them?
Emphasize habits. Use a cue to trigger a routine. For example, if your goal is to drink more water throughout the day, you could set an alarm on your phone to remind you every 2 hours to go get water. Eventually, you’ll be able to just drink more water without the reminder. Start with small changes, and once you get a little taste of success, try to make slightly bigger changes. If your goal is to completely upgrade your diet but you currently eat 4 nights at McDonalds, maybe you should just focus on going one less night to the fast food place at first.
Another key concept is to worry about the process (day to day actions), not outcomes. Outcomes can take weeks or months to attain – do what you can control, and focus one step at a time. If you keep chugging along, you are far more likely to succeed than getting hung up on why you haven’t reached your goal yet. Results take time!
A good plan makes you accountable. The fear of disappointing others is a powerful motivator. Accountability also allows for re-evaluation – if you want to lose weight, and after 1 month you are up 10 lbs, you now can change course to get back on track.
- Write down your goal
- Tell friends and family about your goal
- Take measurements once a week
- Work with a coach
- Weigh yourself
- Keep a log
Change is not easy. But with a good system in place, change is possible. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment – put some of these concepts into practice and start seeing the change you always wanted!
Mulligan Fitness and Hylete.com
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