This year why not set resolutions, goals and targets with a new mindset? Yup, the new year revolution is here
Are you one of those people who make a resolution every new year to finally get in shape? It may not have worked in the past, but this time you’re determined. You’ll do whatever it takes. You’re fed up with your body. With your low energy levels and more importantly, with your low self esteem. You feel sluggish after Christmas. Your clothes are feeling that little bit tighter. This time will be different, because it has to be. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it probably won’t. If it hasn’t worked the previous fifty times, it’s unlikely that the same approach will yield different results this time. Rather than new year’s resolutions, this time let’s start a new year revolution.
Let’s start playing the long game
As a health and wellness coach I see people going into panic mode around weight loss every January. They make the same mistake year after year; new year’s resolutions that are doomed to failure. Why are they doomed? Because they don’t give any thought to the process. They go for an intense short term fix that’s not sustainable. Which inevitably fails, leading to more self loathing and guilt. What they’re failing to understand is that getting your body in shape is not about your body. It’s about your mind. Will power is a limited resource. It WILL run out. We need a more solid plan beyond determination. More than anything we need to change our mindset. We need to stop thinking about change for the wedding, birthday or holiday. We need to start thinking about change for life. This, year rather than tearing off to the gym, or eating a ridiculously low amount of calories, let’s give some thought to putting a plan in place. And processes that will make it a successful one.
Goals for weight loss
I can categorically state that there’s an enormous correlation between the clients who have set clear, specific goals and the clients who have done very well. Goals bring clarity. They give you something very definite to work towards. Without goals there’s no pressure on you. Most people who don’t set goals have a lazy approach to the process. And invariably their outcomes match that.
So how do I set goals?
Firstly you need to figure out what it is that you want to achieve. I usually like to use a timeframe such as 6-8 weeks. You need to be as specific as possible here. When I ask clients what their goal is the vast majority will say “weight loss”. Can I let you in on a little secret? Weight loss is not a goal. It’s too vague. Does that mean you want to be three pounds lighter when you’re 92? Let’s flip it over and create a specific goal:
- I am going to lose ten pounds by 31January.
Now we’ve created a crystal clear representation of what we’re going to achieve. Write it down, in your own handwriting. We’re sending that message to our brain. We’re positively reinforcing it, over and over. Each goal must have an end date. Without it, you won’t achieve it. That’s not to say it’s the end of your journey. Once you reach that date, it’s time to re-assess, celebrate the wins and set new goals.
Know your why
This is the single most important aspect to achieving any worthwhile goal. Yet, it’s the one most of us overlook. Most people rush into their new adventure, full of excitement without giving it any thought, or plan. Shortly after, they crash and burn.
Let’s backtrack a little
You’ve set your specific goal, with its end date. My next question to you is this, why is it important to you to achieve that goal? If you can’t answer that question you’ll struggle to achieve that elusive goal. Again, we need to get clear. Similar to the above scenario, most people will answer this one with “I just need to lose a few pounds”. We need to dig deeper than that I’m afraid. It’s time for you to get a little uncomfortable! Keep asking why, until you get to the root of the issue. A strong why will drive you forward in pursuit of that goal when times get tough. Here’s a typical conversation I have with many people:
- Why is it important to you to achieve this goal?
- Because I know I’m overweight, I have to lose a few pounds and get a bit fitter.
- Why is it important to you to lose a few pounds and get fitter?
- Because I know my health is suffering. I’m out of breath at the top of the stairs.
- Why is important to sort out your health?
- Because I want to live a long life and be a good example for my kids. And I want to be able to get out in the garden and play with them, without being out of breath after two minutes.
- So what I’m hearing is that your real reason for doing this is your kids?
When we get really honest with ourselves, there’s usually a much stronger reason for wanting to get in shape than societal pressure. If there’s not, you may need to rethink your reasons for doing it. Or probably, whether you need to do it at all.
In the above example, you see the usual “lose a few pounds” reason. Vague. However, improving your health for your children is a very strong why. Another very common reason I encounter is lack of confidence in oneself. By asking the difficult questions of ourselves we improve our chances of success tenfold. Work out why it is important to you. Most people start, without considering their why. When times get tough, the why will keep you going.
We’ve got our goal, and we’ve got our why. But how are we going to do it? A goal without a plan is just a wish. I want you to write down:
- Three things you can do this week that would move you closer to your goal
- Three things you can do this month to move you closer to your goal.
Identify the non negotiable
What are the things that HAVE to happen for you to achieve the goal you’ve set? The non negotiable. The things you will commit to doing, even on the days when you don’t feel like doing it. It’s easy to do the right things when it’s all new and you’re “in the zone”. However, that initial enthusiasm will likely wear off and you’ll be left with occasions where the easy option is to fall back into old habits. So here’s your next task:
- List a minimum of 5 non negotiable things that you will commit to, in order to achieve your goal.
Identify the obstacles
If you’re starting January with a weight loss goal my guess is this is not your first time attempting to lose weight. So let’s take a moment to learn from the past, rather than making the same mistakes again.
- List a minimum of 5 reasons why previous attempts have failed.
- List solution for each problem.
Let me give you a quick example. Maybe last January you started running and everything was going great for two weeks. Then one day it started raining, so you decided you couldn’t train. It rained for a week, so you didn’t train for a week. Momentum was lost. Old habits started creeping in and soon you were back to square one. If we had a contingency plan in place maybe you could have gone to a class at your local gym? Or maybe you could have done a little bodyweight HIIT workout in the comfort of your own home? There are always ways around those obstacles when we choose to look for them.
Put the plan into action
You’ve got your plan in place, now there’s only one thing left for you to do. Take action. You’ve been strategic, rather than emotional. This year you’ve got a sensible blueprint, not an emotion based resolution that’s doomed to failure. The time is now. Just make a start, no matter what level you are at.
I know it can be difficult, especially if you are a complete beginner. If you’ve got two stone to lose you need to break it down. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Get to 4lbs, 7lbs, 10lbs. When you achieve those little milestones a sense of achievement kicks in. Set little fitness based goals too. They make the journey enjoyable, you see yourself becoming fitter and stronger. With each little target completed your self confidence begins to grow and you want more. The hardest part is getting started. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Only you can make it happen
You can read as many blogs as you like, garner as much knowledge on nutrition and training as is humanly possible, but until you actually go out there and start doing everything will remain exactly as it is. You CAN do it. Make sure to back yourself. Put a little faith in yourself and take the first step. Small sustainable steps create long term change. Consistency beats intensity every time. Let’s start thinking long term. Be consistent. Let’s forget about resolutions. This year let’s start a revolution instead.
Alan Williams is a coach, trainer, motivator and expert in the areas of wellbeing and lifestyle, fitness and confidence building. For more information visit alanwilliamscoaching.com