These 7 Key Concepts Will Make Your New Year Year's Resolution Stick
As a personal trainer and health coach for the past 20 years, I’ve seen and helped a lot of folks reach some pretty lofty goals. I’ve also seen a lot of people fail. What can you learn from 20 years’ worth of observations? I think there are seven key concepts you need to be aware of in order to succeed.
Identify the problem
What problem are you trying to solve? Why do you want to lose 30 lbs. or whatever it is? Generally, answers to this question will be vague, e.g.,"to look better” or “get in shape for my kids”. Reframing these vague statements into a problem-solving framework helps. For example: “My problem is that my confidence is low because I don’t like how I look, and I am disappointed in how I am treating my body.” or “My problem is that I'm of breath after playing with my kids for 60 seconds, so I don’t get to enjoy playing with them as much as I'd like. Also, I am not being a good role model for them when it comes to health.” This part of the process can be hard because we have to be vulnerable. But it’s worth it—I’ve seen it.
Seek expert guidance
If you are not an expert in your field of interest find an expert. “I’m just going to run” is not a great plan to lose 30 lbs. of body fat, as running is not an efficient way to lose body fat. Best case scenario is that you lose muscle and fat at the same rate. There is no need to spend an excessive amount of time and money on reaching your goal, however, it is imperative to have an effective plan. Bad plans produce bad results; great plans produce great results. Consult someone who has been there before or coached someone who has been there before.
Write down your goal
Your goal should follow the SMART formula: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Fire up the old Google machine and search for “smart goal setting” and you can learn more. Smart goal setting provides focus and short-term motivation.
Break your goal into smaller, process-oriented goals
Set a realistic timeline (consult with your expert) and set monthly, weekly and, if appropriate, daily goals. These small goals need to be process-oriented. Losing 30 lbs. is outcome-oriented; working out three times per week is process-oriented, just like “walking 15 minutes each morning” or “eating a green veggie with each meal”. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, you can measure your progress (outcome-oriented) and adjust your process-oriented goals, if necessary. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen is the outcome-to-process ratio. Most people spend a significant amount of focus and energy on the outcome and very little on the process. You need to turn this around…lots of focus and energy on the process and very little on the outcome.
Take the leap
Taking the leap is the hardest step, no secret about it. None of the other steps matter if you don’t take this one. Momentum is your best friend here. The longer you engage in a new habit, the easier it gets…actually, I think the stronger you get, which makes the habit seem easier. Understanding how important this step is can be enough to make you take the leap.
Finding support goes hand-in-hand with taking the leap. Your support network helps you get going when you don’t feel like it. It helps you stick with the plan when you start to see results and temptation kicks in. Whether it’s a workout buddy, the community at your gym, or a coach, we are social animals—finding support is key.
Your plan might change. You might start out wanting to lose 50 lbs., but then realize you are happier and feel healthier after losing 30 lbs. Or you might realize that scale weight doesn’t mean as much as fitting into your favorite pair of jeans from five years ago.
Regardless of how your goals evolve, the process stays the same. Your goal-setting muscles need to be trained just like every other muscle. Stay focused and keep going.
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