WIN your year with these 5-steps to sticking to and following through with your New Year's resolutions.
With the New Year in full effect, I wanted to offer some perspective for those of you setting New Year goals. We talk a lot about goals with our members here at Behemoth. Goals are important. They're desires and intentions, but in essence, they're just that unless there is a plan of attack on how to go about achieving said goals. Let's dig a little deeper into what has worked well for our members in not just goal setting but actually attaining them and not just saying "I will" this year.
Simply wanting something really badly hasn’t worked since we were five, so maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how we are going to kick it up a notch this year and have our actions follow our words and our thoughts.
First, let's look at a few things that are essential to think about when setting goals.
1. Set specific goals.
Being vague and general makes it extremely difficult to track your progress. Let’s say that we are planning a cross county road trip or even headed somewhere we've never been. Would it be wise to jump in the car and hope that simply because we want to get there we'll be able to? If that were the case, then Disney World here we come! When we hear someone tell us that their goal is to “get in shape” or “lose weight”, it’s really not that much different than a driver saying, “I want to head west”.
More specificity is vital regarding what we'd actually like to accomplish. How about, "I want to drop 10lbs by the end of February by working out three times a week and cooking 19/21 of my meals consistent of real, whole foods." Also, setting a performance oriented goal is a great start as well. Try setting a goal to do five strict pull ups in a row or adding fractional weights to your strength training. These goals are much easier to track your progress – “I was able to do 2 pull ups yesterday vs 1 last week”. Additionally, the amount of work required to accomplish your goal will require a higher level of fitness than you currently have.
2. Set realistic time frames on your goals.
A proper time frame will also make your goals more attainable. Let’s say you were trying to learn a new language. For most of us, setting a goal to master Spanish in a 30 day time frame seems pretty unrealistic. You can make some serious strides, but after a month, we highly doubt you’ll be able to fully appreciate the plot of your favorite day time Telenovelas. The same can be said for those 6-pack abs you want. Eating less "ineffective" foods is a good start, but in most cases it takes additional work and understanding to really move the needle in the right direction. If you are planning to see a massive change in your appearance or your strength, plan to invest more than just a month worth of consistent work.
Keep in mind, the point of doing any challenge with a restricted time frame (i.e. 30 day challenge) is to start developing better habits than you currently have. For those that have struggled with challenges like this in the past, perhaps the time frame you've set out for yourself is too much to bite off in the beginning. Start with a week, heck start with a day then build some momentum and go from there. A house is built brick by brick. It's cliche, we know, but so true. Wherever you desire to go or whatever you desire to do this year will take more of a consistent effort over a long period of time, not just an "all or nothing" approach over the course of one week, much less one day! So, embrace the mentality that this won't be a "quick fix".
3. Set "micro-goals" within your "macro-goal".
Measurable little steps or "check points" along the way will help set you up for success to know you're on the right path towards your major goal. Try to think about failures the same way you would turn-by-turn navigation. If you take a wrong turn or miss an exit, hopefully you wouldn’t just give up and go home. There is still a path to your destination, it just looks a little different than how you first planned it. This mentality becomes much harder to do when you are only focussed on your end point destination. Try setting a few steps under each of your major goals to act as stepping stones towards bigger accomplishments. Take the weight loss example above. For that 10lb weight loss you're looking to accomplish by the end of February, ask yourself, how often will you want to go to the gym each week? Which days? What time? Being able to consistently "check the box" on whether you are or aren't can help keep you in the right frame of mind and keep you moving forward towards your goal.
Performance goals are the easiest to track and re-assess, but what about aesthetic goals? We live in a time of instant gratification and immediate results where hard work has been shelved for pills and quick fixes. We're here to tell you (from lots of experience) none of these options are healthy approaches to sustainable change, nor do they work long term. It should then come as no surprise why you get discouraged after week one when you’re craving chocolate and still don’t fit into your skinny jeans. The problem still exists because the behavior is not yet fixed. For body composition related goals, try to be more proactive, think “form follows function”. This means by putting more focus behind the "process" (think everyday behaviors, tasks or habits) sometimes improved performance, body composition and overall health is a by-product of that effort put forth. Here are some examples:
-I will buy a new cookbook and test out the most appetizing 10 recipes for me.
-I will make a point to get an extra hour (possibly 2) of sleep every night this week.
-Instead of watching TV one night, I’ll take that hour (or 2) to meal plan for the upcoming week.
Although it doesn’t seem like much, these goals are more action-oriented and are relatively painless but should help to promote a healthier lifestyle.
4. Know "why" you've started in the first place to minimize distractions and potential road hazards.
First, going at it alone is always tough. Finding a coach, partner, or community to help keep you be and stay accountable is a great option and usually the best option. But, there will come a day you will be tested. Especially by those who don’t share the same views as you or aren't on the same mission as you are. So, then give yourself a hand early on – when your motivation is higher – so that you'll be more resilient – when your motivation is lower.
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to simply eliminate things (i.e. junk food in your pantry) that would lead you to act counter to your goals. But it goes further than that. When you are just starting out, that new diet or routine is different and exciting. This makes it somewhat easy to stay the course at least at first. After a few weeks when you are in the trenches, you might lose sight of why you are doing this to yourself. Try writing yourself a couple of sticky notes as a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing. Put it somewhere you will see often – the bathroom mirror, the fridge, your work computer, your phone’s lock screen or background picture. If you can continually remind yourself of why you are working so hard, it gives meaning and worth to the tasks necessary to keep going. For most of us, it's most definitely deeper than just fat loss and muscle gain. Find what that rooted motivation is by asking yourself tough questions, then see it, think it and speak it daily.
5. It’s all a matter of perspective
Decisions seem to be much easier when you are dealing with absolutes. What if you knew for a fact that your next "less effective" nutritional decision would add exactly 2” to your waistline? It might be a little easier for a smoker to quit if their doctor could tell you with absolute certainty one more cigarette would be fatal.
Regardless of how bad you wanted something, knowing that your life weighed in the balance should be enough to get you to stop.
Well, unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. We've heard lots of very successful people say something along the lines of, “if you want something bad enough, the work will seem easy.” We understand this to mean, if something is that important to you, you won’t be able to fail because you’ll never stop trying. Doing something slightly out of your comfort zone for 30 days, especially if it’s to greatly improve your health, should not even be a topic of debate. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice something small, for something you want, then it’s pretty straight forward….you don't want it that badly!
It seems that the older we get the more truth we find in every cliché we've ever heard (…sorry for not listening to you sooner, Mom and Dad). Perhaps the most appropriate closing point right now is the old adage, “Success is the journey, not the destination”. This means to focus on the pit stops along the way, not the end result of why you're on it in the first place. Although the work may be difficult at times, keeping your word and seeing something through to the end will not only deliver the results you seek, but will help to define your character as well. In all honesty, nothing good in this life will come without a good amount of energy expended and time invested. Set yourself up for success by setting realistic expectations then executing on them consistently this year. MAKE it a great 2021 and remember, you and only you are in control of whether you do or do not.
If you're motivated AF but in need of direction, accountability and a whole lot of positive influence then we got your back. Helping people become the best versions of themselves is our specialty.
-Aja Barto, owner Behemoth Gym