It should be no surprise that a post like this is written at the beginning of the year. A new year symbolizes new beginnings and encourages us to think that in some way this year will be better than the last. But we also know the other side of the coin – those dreaded New Year’s Resolutions that somehow are made and usually broken before the end of the month meaning that whatever hope you had early in the process is quickly swept away. That is, until the next year when maybe, just maybe that will be the year that you see success.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Well this post is written to help give you some of the tools you need to see success at the end of this year. I can say this because I’m sitting here on the other side (at the end of the year) telling you that it is possible to keep those goals – and even surpass them! Why do I say that? Because I not only have I kept my goals this year (started hoping to lose just 15 pounds), but I’ve far surpassed anything I ever thought possible: I’ve lost almost 80 pounds, have fallen in love with obstacle course racing, am training even now for my first triathlon and am pushing and training harder each month that goes by.
The point of this article is not to discuss the details of what I’ve accomplished, but rather to let you know the lessons I’ve learned over the course of this year on how to meet and achieve the goals I’ve set before me – with the goal that you can adapt them for yourself to achieve your goals.
Just what can you accomplish in just one year?! I promise its more than you think possible.
But first, let me fill you in on a couple of secrets:
- These tips are not just relevant for goals you set at the first of the year – I don’t care when you set your goals, whether January 1st or in the middle of the year. The tools below will help you achieve them no matter when, where or how you set them.
- These tips are not only relevant for fitness goals – What you’ll find below are tips that can be used for any goal(s) you set your mind to achieving. Whether its your health and fitness, finances, or even performance at your job you’ll find that the following tips, generalized to your set of goals, will help you achieve them.
So let’s get started. Some of the tips may be a bit extreme while others aren’t as much. Stay with me – I promise my goal is to get you to succeed – no matter what your goals are.
1. Be THAT guy/gal…
Every goal often succeeds or fails on the amount of accountability to help you stay on course. So what does this mean in relation to this tip? Get your goals out there for everyone to see. Tell all your friends (both personally and on social media) what your goals are. Tell them everything you’re planning to do to help you meet those goals. Even setup an Instagram account (you can see @livehealthrun for example) where you share your goals, your progress and even at times your failures.
All of this has the intent of keeping you accountable and helping you resist some of those temptations that will inevitably come. If a co-worker brought in donuts and you’re dying to have one – just remember that all eyes are on you because you’ve made such a huge deal about trying to meet that fitness/weight goal you set earlier that week/month/year. And the flipside is true as well – when you’re tempted to sleep through the alarm (set to wake you for that workout/run) that extra encouragement is there to help you get up and get at it so you can share the news with your friends.
It might seem crazy, but this single tip just might be what you need to get you closer to declaring success on your goals this year.
2. Surround yourself with others that share the same goals (or are further than you)
This might seem a bit self-explanatory, but when you have others around you that share the same goals, then those common objectives can help motivate you and them towards success. Having someone you can rely upon when you’re struggling (that knows the same struggles), having others encourage you (while you likewise encourage them) and even having others that face some of the same failures will keep you focused on working towards those goals.
And the latter part of this tip (surrounding yourself with others that are further than you) will drive you further as well as it will push you even that much harder to get where they are at. I’ve always said that I want to run with those that are faster in the race as it motivates me to dig deep and push harder with the result of exceeding the goal I originally set.
3. Give yourself a realistic timeframe to achieve your goals
You’re not going to lost 50 pounds in 30 days – no matter how much you try. And if you do, you’re probably using one of those crash diets that you shouldn’t be using anyway. And if you think you’re going to cross the finish line of a marathon in just 90-days, well you should probably think again.
As you make your goals, remember that you’re making real, sustainable change for life. And with that its going to take baby steps to get you there. But just as I’ve learned along the way, those baby steps really do add up to HUGE change – it just might take some time to get there.
4. Make a plan yet be flexible/rigid in implementing it
Your personality is going to help dictate this tip. And often it might depend on the day on which side of this tip you’re going to implement.
What I mean is that you need a plan to work towards your goals; we all know that. But there are times you’re not going to perfectly meet that day’s plan that you were hoping to accomplish. Whether its your diet or even fitness goals, there are just those days. And that means you’re going to have to be flexible and allow yourself those moments, even those failures, and get right back up the next day and get right back to it. You haven’t lost everything and you might have just set yourself back for just a few days. Just learn the be flexible and get over it.
But here’s where the other side of this tip comes in. You do need to be flexible and accept those moments/days that it just doesn’t come together. But these moments and days should be few and far between. See, this is where you need to be rigid as well. If you see that your plans are thwarted not just for a day (or two) but its becoming your new/old normal then you need to step back and establish the rigidity as soon as you can.
See this is the rub. Until you’ve established your plan as part of your habits/new normal its going to be easy to slide back into whatever behaviors you had before working on your goals. You are going to need to monitor yourself and know how flexible, or how rigid, you need to be – and when.
5. Be a bit obsessive
If you’re really serious about accomplishing your goals, then you really need to set your focus on them – to the point of obsessiveness. Often, goals require a very strict adherence to the steps you need to accomplish them. And when you aren’t focused it becomes easy to make excuses like, “I’ll do better tomorrow/next time.” Just like I mentioned in the last tip, its easy to then start having those excuses creep in day after day until you’ve either totally forgotten about your goal or just given up that you’ll ever accomplish it.
Take for example a common goal: the desire to lose x pounds over a certain number of weeks. The obsessed (or focused) person will take use of the tools – like combining MyFitnessPal with a food scale (see below) and track every calorie that enters their body. Alternatively, the unfocused person will just estimate food portions (generally meaning overeating – seriously, measure out your food for a week and tell me otherwise) and will allow additional treats to slip in with the thought of being better tomorrow. Do you see how the obsessed person is able to accomplish their goals with a bit more chance of success?
6. Use the right tools
As just mentioned, using the right tools can propel you towards success in meeting your goals. As you might have surmised, I was that obsessed guy using MyFitnessPal combined with a food scale from the very outset of marching towards completing my nutritional goals. And I can tell you that it worked.
But the right tools aren’t just related to your diet. I bought a good pair of running shoes (with inserts), a heart rate watch (starting with the basic Polar FT4 heart rate monitor and later upgrading to the Polar M400 multi-sport tracker with heart rater monitor), with stride sensor and more. I’ll have to share more later why I choose to heart-rate train, but for me those tools have been critical to my success.
And finally, the right tools might not just be hardware either. Knowing where to find the best workouts (like the free online IronStrength workout by Dr. Jordan Metzl) or even finding the right training plan (whether running, swimming, biking or more) can be those tools as well.
Honestly, looking and searching for those tools can help you focus (think obsessive again) and keep you on track to hitting those goals every single time.
7. Get rid of temptations around you
This is especially important when it comes to a diet plan (think of trying to lose weight when you have nothing but treats surrounding you day in and day out). But it can be just as relevant to training goals as well. What do I mean?
Sometimes the temptations you have surrounding you are distractions from getting started on your training plan. So maybe for a time you put away some of those distractions to keep your focused and motivated.
Having a hard time getting up early in the morning to run? Unplug the distraction (TV, cell phone, etc) in your bedroom and get to sleep.
Are you a bit of a workaholic and you’re struggling setting time aside over lunch to get your workout in? Block off your time (pretend its a meeting with your boss – aka YOU) and get it done.
You know what those temptations are – just get rid of them.
8. Get your family on board
Right along the same track of surrounding yourself with others with similar goals is getting your family on board with you as well. Obviously the best success will come from family members that are tracking with you on the exact same set of goals. But even if you can’t get to that point, asking your family members to understand why you’ve chosen these goals and request they encourage you along the way. Just having their support towards meeting your goals will help go a long way towards your success.
9. Set a schedule and stick to it
One of the keys I hope you are finding throughout this entire article is the idea of Being Intentional. In fact, the idea of Being Intentional is behind a challenge that my wife and I put together a couple of years ago towards our 30-Day Be Intentional challenge to help challenge the participants to toward intentional living with the result of changed lives.
Setting a schedule follows exactly with that line of thinking. If you have a goal, chances are its going to include changes you’ll need to add to your schedule. And this is where Being Intentional comes in.
If you just hope that you’ll find the time to work out its just won’t happen. If you think to yourself that you can just get up a bit earlier in the morning (without adjusting your evening schedule to get to be earlier) then think again. If your goals are more diet related, just try to hope to eat better without scheduling times to plan our your meals for the week and even find the time to shop for those healthier options.
No matter how you slice it, without setting a schedule (being intentional) you’ll just end up back where you were at before setting your goals. And since we both know how badly you want to accomplish them, get to it and set a schedule!
10. Lastly, have fun!
I know, you see this at the end of every list of tips…right? But there is so much truth to it.
If you’re trying to get fit, know that running is the best (well, at least I feel like it is :-)) calorie-burning exercise known to man and you hate it – well, you’re not going to get very far. There really are other wonderful ways to burn calories (swimming, biking, fitness classes, etc) that could be just as successful and even more so if you love it!
You really need to consider your own personality, your own likes and dislikes and find the path towards your success that not only will give you the best Return-on-Investment (ROI) but allow you to enjoy the path to success along the way.
I won’t say much more than that, but even finding ways to get your friends or family involved can add that much more excitement to an otherwise dreary task. I know that much of my running (especially in the winter in an area known for its inversions) is on a treadmill, but I’ve found ways to make it fun (like watching Spartan races on YouTube) to help keep those miles a bit more manageable.
So I have to ask – are you ready to incorporate any of these tips into meeting your goals this year? I know from experience that each of the tips above really are critical for success.
If there’s any I missed I would love to have you share your best tips below. Let’s make this year amazing and take it further than you’ve ever thought imaginable!
Running for Life…