Here we are, the holiday season is upon us and the temptation to eat sweets, be lazy, and let our fitness slide is at its peak!
But there’s hope…
We have a last chance, Hail Mary play that will bring our health back into balance… The all mighty New Year’s Resolution!
So we can just forget about our health and fitness for the time being and enjoy the ride… we can grab some more cookies, chug back another rum and eggnog, and skip our latest workout for an evening on the couch, right?
I wish I could say this were true but science would be hard pressed to agree with me.
Unfortunately, as many of you may or may not have heard, New Year’s Resolutions rarely work. Worse yet, the long-term consequences of setting unrealistic resolutions might be doing more damage than good.
How many times have you said something along the lines of “now that Christmas is over I’m going to get in the best shape of my life… But I’ll wait a few more days before getting started… after all, I still have my new years eve party to attend to… now pass over the box of chocolates!”.
Still holding on to your beloved resolutions?
Let me ask you this… How is your last year’s resolution holding up? Can you even remember what it was? You’re not alone. More than 90% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure (University of Scranton Psychology Professor John C. Norcross, Ph.D.).
For resolutions to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent. We’ve all experienced the down side of short-term changes… a quick high followed by a feeling of being let down and disappointed. Worse yet, abrupt lifestyle resolutions might be programming your brain for unwanted side effects including; increased procrastination, decreased self-confidence, and reduced intrinsic motivation.
I suggest you to stop wasting time making unrealistic resolutions. Instead continue to read on and learn how to turn your goals into reality.
First, It’s important to note that goal setting isn’t the problem (In fact, the only thing that stands between you and your dreams is really nothing more than a systematic, proven strategy you can use to make them a reality, but more on that in a minute).
So what’s the problem?
The biggest problem with resolutions lies in believing that the new year is somehow a superior time to achieve something in comparison to this very moment. When it comes to fulfilling our goals and desires, taking action today will always trump waiting for the right moment to arrive in the future!
This moment is all we ever have. There are no promises for tomorrow.
Here’s some additional problems with New Year’s Resolutions:
- People often try to make abrupt lifestyle changes that have unrealistic timelines for completion. These are more like fantasies than goals (a goal will align with our priorities and show signs that it’s actually coming true; where as, a fantasy will have no evidence, no indication that is even remotely being manifested).
- People generally lack clarity with their resolutions. They don’t assess and document where they are starting from, what resources they need to get from A to B, what actions they’ll need to consistently take, and what it looks like when they finally “arrive”.
- People rarely set up a structured reward system, helping to solidify the habits necessary for success.
- Finally, It’s uncommon for people to establish appropriate social accountability (be it from a friend, family member, or professional coach) prior to getting started.
Throughout the rest of this blog post I’m going to give you the ingredients to create lasting change in your life. You’ll learn about the importance of expecting more from yourself and accepting nothing less, you’ll understand the power in making definitive choices, and I’ll share our methodical goal setting approach that produces long-term results.
The first step to creating lasting change is to expect more of yourself and accept nothing less! This isn’t some “raw-raw” positive thinking bull shit. This is the foundation of all personal success. If you want to improve any area of your life, you must start with raising your standards on what you’re willing to accept.
See, when you raise your standards on what you’re willing to accept in your life, you’ll instantly be blessed with the motivation to help make it a reality.
As the old saying goes, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
If I can contribute just one thing to my personal successes, it’s this. I simply won’t accept mediocrity and I choose to focus on improving every aspect of my life, just a little bit, every single day.
I learned a similar lesson from my dad at a very young age. I had just gotten my first skateboard and took it for a ride at the elementary school situated right behind my back yard. I remember falling and scraping my knee and running home to my house crying. My dad gave me a hug and said “It’s just a scrape let’s get it cleaned up.”
I was embarrassed and scared to get back on my board. I imagine my dad could sense it. In his usual fashion he grabbed the board and kicked it and said “Take that board!” (as if to symbolize that he had now ‘hurt’ the board and all was even). But then he said something much more important.
He looked at me and said “Look Errol, if you’re not falling then your not trying hard enough. Falling is part of getting better. Now get back on your board and go have some fun.”.
And from that moment on, I expected more from myself. I decided I would try until I fall… then I’d get back up and try again.
This expectation helped me to become a tremendous athlete. In my teenage years it helped me to gain my first sponsorship as a mountain biker. Later, it helped me become one of Whistler Blackcomb’s elite freeskiers. But it was only later in life that I realized it’s true impact. It’s helped shape who I am today and who I will continue to be tomorrow.
Can you think of a time in your life when you expected more from yourself and accepted nothing less? Do you remember the inspiration that it generated? Do you remember the sense of certainty that followed?
We all have this power within. We can choose to raise our standards at any moment. I want you to make a choice right now to never settle for less than you can be.
Do you remember the massive earthquake that shook Haiti and killed over 200,000 people? How about the winter Olympics held right here in Vancouver BC? Surely you remember “California Girls” by Katy Perry playing on the radio every time you turned it on. And how about Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie “Inception” that grossed nearly a billion dollars in revenue?
All those events took place in 2010… yup 10 years ago!
Who were you then? What did you look like? What was important to you? What did you dream of becoming?
If someone had asked you back then “what do you want your life to look like 10 years from now?” how would you have responded? Would it look like your life today? Or would it look radically different?
It’s amazing how quickly time can pass. But forget about that, let’s focus on what the next 10 years are going to look like!
What are you going to do today in order to create the tomorrow of your dreams? What habits will you have to form? Who will you need to surround yourself with? What resources will you need? And when will you “arrive”?
You see, 10 years from now you’ll certainly arrive. The choices you make between now and then will determine what your life looks like and the choices you make most frequently will have the biggest impact. Your life is exactly as it is today because of the choices you’ve made and the actions that have followed. Choices about what to focus on, how you interpret events, what you decide to learn, and the relationships you decide to nurture. Put simply, choices shape your life. They determine where you’ll end up and who you’ll become.
No story illustrates this better than that of Viktor E. Frankl. For those that aren’t familiar, Viktor Frankl was a renowned psychologist who is famous for his contribution of Logotherapy. He is a holocaust survivor and wrote the best-selling book, Man’s Search For Meaning.
His time in the concentration camps brings many horrifying stories. They need not be repeated here but I would like to reference one integral moment. Viktor was stripped naked in the winter months of Germany, he’d been beaten repeatedly, day after day within an inch of his life, and had good reason to believe that most all of his family had been murdered. He was handed his meal for the day, a cold bowl of “soup” which consisted of a dead fish head and water. It was in this moment, staring into the bowl of soup that he recogonized the one thing the Nazi’s couldn’t take away from him… his freedom to choose his response.
They could take his possessions, they could take his clothes, and they could take his family but no matter how hard they tried, they could not take away his choice in how to respond to such cruelties.
In the midst of the worst circumstances ever imaginable, Viktor Frankl made a definitive choice to focus on being reunited with his family. He also decided he would show empathy and kindness to the guards who were so cruel to him. Because of these definitive choices (and through continual acts of kindness and courage) he was able to survive the camps and eventually be reunited with his only living family member, his sister.
There were dozens of short-term things Viktor could have chosen to focus on. He could have focused on how Man can be so barbaric. He could have focused on why this was happening to him. He could have focused on how they robbed him of all his possessions. He could have focused on the intense pain he was suffering from. But, he chose to focus on what he wanted most in the long run, to be reunited with his family.
He chose kindness, empathy, and purpose, and it saved his life.
See, In order to achieve great success you must have a long-term focus. In fact, the majority of the problems we have with our personal lives (like indulging in processed foods and sugars, excessive drinking, lack of exercise, and smoking) stem from choosing to focus on the pleasure that comes from short-term gratification. If we regularly chose to focus on the long-term ramifications of these harmful lifestyle habits, we’d likely choose not to indulge in them as often.
Deciding to commit yourself to long-term solutions rather than short-term quick fixes is arguably the most critical choice you’ll make in your lifetime. You’ll stop seeking out the latest fad diet or bootcamp that promises “6 weeks to a new you”. And you’ll start seeking out sustainable solutions.
Remember the raw power of making a definitive choice. Recognize that it’s a tool that you can utilize at any time to better your health or change your life. Everyone shares this incredible power within.
You literally begin to change your life the moment you make a definitive decision.
So, how do you know if you’ve made a real decision? Well, a definitive choice is immediately followed by action. If there is no action it’s likely a flimsy resolution, not a definitive choice. Take a moment to make a definitive choice right now and take action!
We’ve learned that New Year’s Resolutions rarely come true.
We’ve learned to expect more from ourselves and accept nothing less.
And we’ve learned how powerful definitive choices can be.
Now let’s talk about the other ingredients that produce long-term results; Goals, habits, and accountability.
Goals have enormous power!
Creating a compelling future will inspire you, filling you with the energy that’s needed for success. Yet so many people fail to create a list of clearly defined goals. As mentioned previously, many have set unrealistic resolutions in the past and failed to achieve them. Now their disappointment and fear stops them from setting future goals.
The first step in breaking this pattern is to acknowledge that this might be happening to you.
When was the last time you wrote down a clearly defined goal? Are fear and disappointment holding you back? If so, let’s break this pattern immediately! We’re going to set a small and achievable goal right now to help create some momentum.
Here are the ingredients to a quality goal:
- It will clearly state where you are today: I am currently 40 years old, 200 lbs, and in the worst shape of my life. I struggle to walk a flight of stairs and regularly consume processed foods.
- It will clearly state your aim and where you want to be: In one year from now on my 41st birthday I will weigh 185lbs. I am progressing my fitness through daily movement and exercise. I am able to run up the stairs to my fifth floor apartment. I’m regularly consuming natural whole foods. I feel amazing! My energy is constant throughout the day, my confidence is like it was in my 20’s, and I feel like I can achieve anything!
- It will list the resources and tools you will need for completion: I will need someone to help design my fitness routine and help me understand what to eat. I will need accountability and a written commitment letter that I’ll share with a friend. I will need an app to track my new habits. I’ll need support from a community that shares my values. And I’ll need to put aside 5% of my paychecks to ensure I have the finances needed to support my health.
- It will have action steps listed in progressive order: In order to achieve my goal the first step I will take is to print copies of it and place them on my fridge and bathroom mirror for easy reference. Second, I will request a consultation with the coaches at Rocky Point Fitness to help me with direction and accountability. Third, I will start walking daily until I have a more robust exercise plan. Fourth, I will start eating one whole food item each day, starting today.
- Lastly, the goal will inspire immediate action. Remember, goals inspire action, fantasies are things we think we might want but aren’t inspiring immediate action.
Now that you have the ingredients for a quality goal try setting one for yourself. It can be something in any area of your life, a mental goal, a physical goal, a spiritual goal, a financial goal. Just set a simple goal and stick to the principles laid out above.
Long-term compelling goals need more than immediate action, they need daily habits. You’ll never change your life until you change something that you do daily. Unfortunately, as many as 40% of the actions people perform every day aren’t due to conscious decision making but habits.
Take a moment and reflect on what that means. Almost half the things you do aren’t done with conscious awareness. They are performed unconsciously, by behavioural habits, that we didn’t necessarily decide upon. Imagine the power you could unleash if you could start to alter these habits and get them to work towards your goals instead of against them!
Almost every aspect of our lives is reflected by our habits. The quality of your relationships is mostly a reflection of your habits. Your level of fitness is mostly a result of your habits. Your mood and happiness are the results of your habits. How much money you’ve saved is mostly a result of your habits. And how educated your are is mostly a result of your habits.
Habits and behavioural science is extremely complex. I won’t try and tackle this subject in this blog post but I will leave you with 7 tips that will help immediately improve your daily habits.
- Pick your habit. Yes, this sounds obvious but you need to start with one habit at a time. I suggest starting with a critical habit that will impact several areas of your life at once. Something like daily movement and exercise. I know for myself that all other aspects of my life improve when I’m exercising regularly. I sleep better, I eat better, I’m way more productive, and I’m generally just a happier person. In the literature these are referred to as “keystone habits” or habits that impact multiple areas of your life. What “keystone habit” would you like to implement?
- Start small, so small you can’t help but succeed. For instance. instead of trying to meditate for an hour a day, try two minutes and build from there. Everyone has two minutes, it’s almost impossible not to succeed.
- Track it daily so you can visually see it. Try a day planner or daily habit tracking app. Your brain will start to love seeing the daily progress and before you know it you won’t want to break the pattern.
- Choose a trigger. Complete the new habit directly after another daily routine like brushing your teeth, driving home from work or getting out of bed. You have to get up everyday so why not do it then.
- Create a reward. Now that you’ve decided on a trigger you need to decide on a reward for each successful completion of the habit to help reinforce the new behaviour. The reward must be empowering or supporting. For example, you wouldn’t want to reward exercise with eating a doughnut. It should also be simple like mentally telling yourself “look at me go, i’m crushing it” or something physical like a fist pump or something imaginative like the spirit of your grandfather saying he’s proud of you. When in doubt, stick to mental rewards, they’re the easiest.
- Improve your environment. If you want to meditate for two minutes, put a meditation pillow next to your bed. When you wake up it will be staring you in the face.
- Surround yourself with role models. If you want to start a daily exercise routine join a fitness community.
Now you’ve got a goal that has the ingredients for success. You’ve chosen a habit and started to successfully implement it into your life. The final step is to gain accountability.
Accountability is simple but powerful. It’s been documented by science that we perform better simply by being aware that we are under observation by others. This is known as the Hawthorne effect.
You can utilize this power tool in many ways:
- Write a commitment contract to yourself.
- Gain social accountability and tell your friends and loved ones what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Hire a professional to help hold you accountable.
We’ve covered a lot. We know that New Year’s Resolutions rarely work. On the contrary, we know that clearly defined goals can create a compelling future and inspire action.
We know that creating lasting change starts with expecting more from ourselves and accepting nothing less.
We know that there is enormous power in making definitive decisions. That our choices ultimately shape our destiny.
And we know that goals, habits, and accountability are the ingredients that are needed to produce successful results.
It’s time for you to raise your standards and make a choice. Will you make another loose New Year’s Resolution? Or will you commit to a written goal and gain the accountability needed to help fulfill it?
I challenge you to create momentum in this very moment by taking action. I don’t care what the action is, just take action! Don’t wait a day, don’t wait a moment, take action right now.
If you would like our help, please fill out our request a consult form. Together we’ll create sustainable, long-term lifestyle goals that are inspired by your priorities.
Our professional coaches will help you reach your goals one step at a time.
No “quick fix” boot camps, no fad diets, no false timelines. At Rocky Point Fitness you’ll get a gym membership that you actually use and you’ll receive premium high end coaching support that has a track record for producing long-term results.
Fill out the form and request a free consultation today.
– Errol Clark, PPHC, CCFT, CF-L3
About the author:
Coach Errol Clark holds over 12 years of experience as a performance coach and has helped hundreds of clients lose weight, increase strength, improve function, and decrease pain in their lives.
Errol believes in continuing education and constant learning. He is one of the few trainers in North America to successfully complete the Crossfit L3 CCFT designation and the OPEX CCP coaching modules.
Errol specializes in behavioural change and has extensive knowledge in program design. He also has a refined skill set for improving the nuances of functional movement.