We have our first question of 2015, and this one certainly got here early. This question is courtesy of a friend of mine that I was with on Jan. 1st.
We were all gathered together on January 1st to watch my Spartan’s epic comeback against Baylor. The holiday binge continued for most, with mouthfuls of junk food and beer. As we all moved our belts one notch further, someone brought up the topic of New Year’s Resolutions.
In a group of 12, each had something different in mind for what they want to change. Some were health, fitness, smoking, drinking, junk food, work ethic, career change. In some respects it is inspiring to hear the everyday struggle of the people close to you, and to know they desire to change themselves.
Then, my good friend said to me, “Adam, I have been setting the same goal for the last 5 years, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve been fat and sloppy since college, and I am ready for change. What do I need to do differently this year?”
Ah, the classic goal setting question. How do we, as human beings, with finite amounts of self control, time, energy, and will power. How can we best channel our mental energy into physical and meaningful results? It is easy enough to sit back and dream, but to take action, and to achieve, that is a different story friend.
Forget Your Calendar
First and foremost, I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t believe in self improvement, instead, I don’t believe in waiting for the perfect opportunity to change. If you want to get fit, or change any other habits, what does a page on the calendar have to do with it? Are you granted some magical powers in the month of January that I am not aware of?
The perfect opportunity will never arise. Time has nothing to do with your goals. Success is based on you and your efforts alone, whether it is January or July. Now, I am going to spare you the Goal Setting 101 talk. Let’s just review briefly the tenants of successful goal setting.
#1. Make your goals meaningful. If you are aiming to achieve something that really have no value or impact on your life, you are unlikely to have long term success. We can all improve in different ways, identify changes that will positively impact your life.
#2. Set reasonable goals. Can the un-realistic dream talk. If you have never run a 5k before, are you realistically going to complete an iron man this year? If you have never successfully lost 10 pounds before, does losing 50 seem realistic. It’s okay to aim high, but be reasonable, or else you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to put yourself in positions to succeed.
#3. Identify short and long term goals. If the goals you set will take 6-12 months to achieve, that is just fine, but try to break it up into smaller parts and track your progress. Achieving those little goals along the way may be just enough motivation to stick with your plans.
#4. Make your goals measurable. Find some way to make your goals quantifiable. Like the numbers on a scale, the weight on the bar, the number of books read, ect. If you can’t measure your progress (or heaven forbid, regression) it can be hard to maintain focus and motivation in those times of waning will-power.
Better Well Done, Than Well Said
So, we have identified our goals. We have nice, neat, quantifiable, meaningful, goals that are going to change your life forever, right?
Maybe. But remember, planning isn’t enough, this requires action. I heard a great quote a couple weeks ago, and it has been bouncing in my head ever since. “Better well done, than well said.” It is not enough to write these things down on paper and never add the physical part to the plan. I can’t help you with that. I can’t come kick your ass out of bed on Saturday morning and make you train. I can’t come rip the cigarette out of your mouth or throw out your junk food for you. I can’t cook your meals or pass your exams.
I can’t. But YOU can.
I CAN however, give you a few tips that may help keep moving forward.
#1. Plan a schedule and develop a routine. Are you currently doing the things you know you need to do to be successful? How many times in the last week/month/year have you gotten of your butt and gotten some exercise? What makes you think this time will be different?
If you are like me, life is busy. Most hours of most days, I have commitments, whether it be work, family, friends. I actively block off time in my weekly schedule so that I know I will make the time to get my own training in. If it is something that is important to you, make sure you are allotting time to get it done. Don’t just hope and pray that you find the time and motivation to get it done. Also remember, an inconsistent training program is not going to yield the results you desire. Inconsistency is the plague of the fitness world.
Also, plan and schedule your meals. In the same vain as above, you know what happens every day when you get home from work. You stuff your face with garbage because you are tired and don’t want to take the time to cook. So when you do have the time, do it in advance. That’s why they make Tupperware friend.
#2. Educate yourself. One of the reasons you may not be reaching your goals is, you have no idea what you are doing. You need to find a program that works for you and accommodates to your time, abilities, and interests. There are thousands of ways to get strong and fit. Find some new ones, try them out, and see what happens.
#3. Surround yourself with positive influences, and find people with similar goals and interests. Accomplishing your goals is not going to be easy. If it was, you would have already done it. The last thing you need is your group of fat friends guilt tripping you into beer and pizza. Meet some new people at the gym to train with, or join an outdoor exercise group in your area. Once you have people to train with, it will be more enjoyable, you will look forward to training more, and you will have people to hold you accountable.
#4. It’s okay to cheat. Nobody is perfect, and you only have so much will power. The important part is, if you do find yourself on one of those lazy weekends, keep it contained to the weekend. Sunday night, take a deep breath, and get yourself back on schedule.
Good luck. Keep us updated with how your training goals are coming. And remember, you don’t need to wait until 2016 to improve yourself.