Photo Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer
As 2010 comes to a close, most people begin thinking about some changes they’d like to make for the New Year. Oh yes, the wonderful (and sometimes dreaded) New Year’s Resolutions. While I love the idea of changing for the better, I hate the road most take when setting up these life changes.
Last year, I wrote about why your New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to suck. But this year, I want to push you; make you think a little more about the previous failures, to make better choices and to change for the better.
If I ruled the world, I’d secretly tap into everyone’s subconscious and remove the whole idea about New Year’s Resolutions altogether. Why? Because the concept doesn’t work for most and here’s why.
Everyone’s familiar with the idea of something being new and exciting only to lose interest after a few weeks when the shine deteriorates. Statistically, it’s why gyms fill up during January and February and then decrease to regular membership levels. Everyone’s gung ho about their new goals and commitments to lose weight and become fit but then reality sets in. This crap actually takes some work and effort.
It takes real change and most people don’t have the heart for that. Considering how fast-paced our lives are, it’s no wonder we often give up so easily. But it doesn’t have to be like this. What I’ve found is while most have good intentions, they don’t have the correct beliefs backing them to do what it takes to make it.
It’s not a hard concept to grasp and learn but it’s sort of hard to implement.
And here’s our main problem. There are too many talkers.
We All Like To Talk
Everybody likes to rattle on about doing this or that. We all love a good story filled with wonderful intentions and wholesome endeavors. We often find it comforting to express our ideas or beliefs just about doing something even if we never follow through. But why?
It’s hard to put a finger on it but my hunch tells me we’re all secretly looking for approval or acceptance. While this is fine and dandy, it still does nothing for us in terms of accomplishing the goals we’re chasing.
Talking is easy. Anyone can open their mouth. Some talk for years about doing something but never actually get around to doing what they’re talking about. Here’s a perfect example.
When I moved to Nashville in August 2007, I made a friend who was (and still is) overweight. After he’d found out about some of my fitness ideals (way before I began writing about them), he began to open up about his weight loss issues and his overall reasoning to lose the weight.
The guy at the time was 340lbs and still weighs about this much (3 years later). His goal was to lose 100lbs so he could reenlist in the Navy for active duty. When he was younger, the military was his life – his love.
However, he developed a serious case of sleep apnea and had to leave for medical reasons. Depression set in and he slowly ballooned up to his current weight. This of course is a result of his sedentary lifestyle(desk job), horrible eating habits, and general laziness.
About a year ago he started asking me for advice and I gave him the usual spiel of “eat less, move more, work out, and increase your protein intake.” I set him up on a pretty extreme fat loss diet to get things moving quickly during the first few weeks, and then had intentions to put him on a more moderate approach so he could focus on making strength gains whilst losing the extra weight.
Now leading up to the consultation, he emphasized how important it was to lose the weight and how he was “getting everything in order” before he started his path on the straight and narrow. His goal was to get every single thing right before he started the fat loss diet.
And it was crazy stuff. He wanted to get his house painted, clean out the guest bedroom, clear a space so he could move his computer to a specific corner in the house for his novel-writing. I mean, he talked about doing a ton of completely unrelated tasks before he could be in the right mindset to start his fat loss diet.
It made no sense, but I was nice about it. I finally broke down and said “look dude, none of this crap matters with regards to your fat loss. Make your decision, get on the diet and realize your goals. Stop worrying about stuff that has no impact on whether or not you reach your goals.”
It woke him up and he began the diet the following week.
But my goodness! He continued to talk. The more he talked, the less he did.
At first, he dropped a solid 8-10lbs and the excitement began. But it got rough. He started to make excuses about how the rest of the week was messed up because he missed his workout on Monday.
He then rationalized how he’d get back on the bandwagon the following Monday. So what happened the next week? He was late for work and picked up some fast food at McDonald’s for breakfast. Guess what? He decided to take the rest of the week off and start anew the following week because this one was already messed up because of one meal!
And here we are, more than a year later, and this has continued incessantly. He’s still 340lbs and still making excuses. He’s still talking about getting everything right so he can lose the weight and get back into the military. His house still isn’t painted, and the spare room isn’t any different than it was before.
I finally broke down on the phone one night and said “you really need to stop talking, stop with all the planning, and BS rationalizing, and just do what it takes. Stop making these dumb excuses because at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your whether or not you make it. You’re clearly not serious about your goals.”
He was pissed at me but that was fine. He was only mad because he knew I was right and I was the first person who finally told him to stop being a baby and “DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO TO MAKE IT.”
I wrote an article titled Planning is Good, Doing is Better and I while I know it’s more than a year old, I encourage all the talkers to read it and think long and hard about all this planning and getting everything right before getting started. It is the biggest mistake you can make when you want to achieve something great.
So now that we’ve gotten the story-telling out of the way, let’s discuss the other side of the coin.
Stop Talking and Start Doing
Seriously, just stop talking about what you’re going to do. Don’t tell another soul about it. Put together your guidelines or whatever you need to do to get started and just start doing it. Stop wasting time.
I’ve been very fortunate to have many doers in my life. If you were to come live with me for a week, you’d find that my closest friends are shakers and movers. Most are entrepreneurs and full-time hustlers – people who are out doing rather than talking about what they plan to do.
I find this mildly interesting because I haven’t been a doer my entire life. I went through a period where all I did was talk. I talked a lot, actually. I talked about starting my fitness writing. I talked about learning web design. I talked about going back to school. But I never did anything about it.
However, thankfully I had a few people in my life who sat me down and asked “what in the [insert four-lettered word of choice here] are you doing with your life?” “Why are you talking about all this stuff but doing nothing about it?”
And we’d just lost cabin pressure – this was my wake-up call. I looked upon previous experiences and successes and learned that everything I’d accomplished previously was because I just did it. It didn’t matter if I didn’t have an exact roadmap. The only thing that mattered was whether or not I started progressing toward a goal.
While this applies to anything we do, let’s focus on fitness and the enrichment of our personal lives. Why are we doing this fitness stuff? For most, we want to be healthy, vibrant, and unashamed to parade around in our underwear.
These are all great reasons. But our why has got to be stronger than our excuses or we’ll never succeed.
Change Your Beliefs
Everything we do (or don’t do) in life all boils down to our belief systems. For the most part, anyone can essentially achieve anything with enough time, work, and diligence. But many of us don’t and never will live up to our potential. It’s sad, but such is life.
Changing a belief is not always easy but it’s possible. For many of us, our beliefs are so well-ingrained that changing them seems akin to moving a mountain. A belief is a result of either hearing or doing something over and over until it sticks.
Most people have beliefs about weight loss, and physique enhancement that are plainly false. We’ve seen numerous instances through research and various writings of the pros in this field to prove these beliefs are false, yet we still believe them despite the evidence. James Krieger is one of my go-to guys for myth-debunkology.
Guess what? As I stated in weight training routines and individual temperament, we’re not unique, little snowflakes. Thusly, everyone is fully capable of changing their beliefs and getting on with their ideals but it takes a concerted effort. You know; hard work and stuff.
So, Umm How Do We Change Them?
First, you must accept the fact that it’s possible to change. If you can’t do this, it’s impossible to move forward.
Then you must start thinking about where you’d like to be and how a change will help you get there. After you’ve decided where you’re going, you must reference previous times in your life when you tried to do something and succeeded.
For example, it could be a time when you aced an exam which you were really stressing about. You obviously did something right, so you probably continued to ace these exams because you did so before.
Thusly, the actions you took (studying, practicing the material, reading the book, chatting with the professor, etc.) became ingrained in your mind and continued to serve you. In other words, you created a single, self-serving belief that you always do well on exams.
The same process goes for everything else in life. Always turn back to previous successes, trace your steps and then apply them to a new goal.
While some people are simply fed up with everything goal-related and have pondered giving up, I hope you change your mind. It’s all about associations and if you can begin to associate your goals with other beliefs you are positive about, doing what it takes will become much easier.
The power of beliefs being associated with something you already know to be pleasant and joyous is beyond imaginable.
Don’t believe me? Just read this article titled How Beliefs and Values Influence What Tastes Good. I love the Pepsi vs. regular cola example because Pepsi’s overall brand identity is focused on excitement and enjoyment. Therefore, those who are on board with Pepsi and their ideals assumed the regular cola tasted better when they were told it was actually Pepsi when it was actually a placebo. The belief they all held about drinking Pepsi was so powerful that it influenced the way they felt about the taste of the regular cola.
So what does this example have to do with reaching our goals?
It’s simple – all we have to do is form a belief that we can do something and then act in a manner that supports said belief.
Here are a few steps to streamlining the process.
- Write it out – it’s easy to think about your goals and ideas but it’s just as easy to forget about them, too. If you write something down (preferably with a pen and paper, not in a text editor) it acts almost like a contract with yourself. It represents power and meaning when your goals are in your handwriting.
- Make a plan – this goes along with writing it out. Set up a plan to get from point A to point B. You don’t have to know all the details at first – just state your purpose and have a guideline. Are you planning to walk an extra 30 minutes 3 times per week? Do you want to want to break your previous squat records in the next 8 weeks? Do you have a vacation you’d like to shed some weight for? Great – give yourself a target to shoot for and work backward to the point you’re at now.
- Build positive beliefs around your goals – Sometimes we view certain goals in a negative light because we’ve never attempted or been successful in the past. Therefore, every time you go over your new goal (that you may be unsure about), thinking of something else you’ve succeed with (and been happy about) in the past before going over the new goals can be helpful. What you’re doing with this process is associating positive feelings of empowerment from your previous successes with the new goals you’ve set for yourself.
- Tell a few others of what you’re doing – but not so many to where you’re only seeking approval. Tell a handful of people you are close to and who will hold you accountable. Make it so they keep tabs on your progress and push you to continually improve. Sometimes, it’s better to not tell anyone at all but most will do better with some accountability for their actions.
- Be realistic – ah, the dreaded words. What is realistic? That’s for you to decide depending on your timeframe, specific goals, age, genetics, etc. If you’re unsure if the goals you’ve made are realistic or not, talk so someone about it and see what they think. But don’t be expecting to gain 6.2 pounds of muscle in 48 hours any time soon.
- Remember you’re going to funk stuff up – you’re human and never going to be perfect. Deal with it. Understand that being late for work and having the sausage biscuit from your favorite food joint is not going to kill your progress – as long as you get back on track. Don’t let one little mishap ruin everything else.
Screw Your New Year’s Resolutions
I’m about to shut up, I promise. But seriously, drop the whole idea of a New Year’s Resolution because you don’t want this to be another thing you started and forgot about. You want this change to wholly serve you. This is not a weekend retreat, nor is it a seminar. This is your life we’re talking about.
Most people make these resolutions because they’re important. They desire to make great leaps but usually fail to follow through.
Forget about the hype around this time of year and be different than everyone else. Set your sights on something you want to achieve and put your best foot forward. Then do it again and again and again.
I look forward to learning more about the changes you’re going to make and continue making throughout 2011. Please share them with everyone in the comment section.