The Trick of the Stick
Let’s get the declining reputation of the old New Year’s Resolution back up a notch this year. After all, resolve denotes determination and as old fashioned as it is, sticking with something until it is done is admirable and if you pick the right resolution, it can be extremely satisfying and dare I say, life changing.
January is almost done though folks (possibly actually done by the time this finds you.) Wow! Time is back at the break-neck speed of everyday life after the languishing days of summer holidays. Some of us might be experiencing that uneasy feeling of the year gathering speed, a fear of momentum mixed with the ‘same old, same old’ mentality pushing us through each day until December pops back up and more hollow resolutions are promised again in a drunken night very late in that month.
Don’t panic though, whatever you do! Breathe and slow down. You can change this. Sometimes in our attempts to set goals to achieve amazing things in fitness and health, we get swept up in the excitement of the end point and we promptly forget about the small steps required to actually get there. And breathing, as simple as it is, is something very few of us do properly. Slow, deep and purposeful. Try it now for five breaths, really taking your time (I’m serious, stop and do this) and then read on. I guarantee you will feel better. It is the best and quickest way to get into the moment, which is critical to setting yourself up for success, when it comes to the thinking required and the action that follows in the dogged pursuit of a great resolution.
I read something from my previous business coach Andrew May, the now well-known author and speaker, who reminded me of the importance of focus when it comes to goals and resolutions. He suggested that too many of us set too many goals across too many areas of our lives. The outcome of such an approach is the well documented abandonment of the well intentioned pursuit, in what seems like the inevitable death of any desire for change come February. So this year I say get ‘laser like’ in your goal setting. Pick one thing of the highest importance. I am not going to tell you what your resolution should be but I am going to ask you this.
What is the one thing that you lack right now that if achieved, could help you with any other goal you might set later this year or in the future? What is the one thing that when it is squared away, will set you up to enjoy the present moment like never before? What is the one thing that you can’t put a price on? When you have answered these questions I believe you will be firmly in my camp, thinking all things health and fitness. It affects your performance in everything you do, so I’m sorry, but despite what everyone says is a cliché, you have your head in the right place. It is now just a matter of aim; the small first step of achieving one thing. I want you to chase this thing, this year like a ravenous dog after a juicy bone. Block out all the other distractions and simply make it happen, no excuses. But don’t try though to lose 50kg like the Biggest Loser, run a marathon like a Kenyan, be flexible like a yoga guru or eat perfectly every day, all at the same time. If you manage to achieve just one thing this year, like having a new exercise habit nailed for life, you have got yourself a great result that will serve you for many years to come.
So the resolution thing could be very worth it. I would like to clarify this a little further too, to say, that when a goal is ‘achieved’, it is not set aside, it is assimilated in to your normal behaviour. When it comes to fitness and health, you can’t ‘store’ it. It is a resource that requires continual stoking. You don’t use it you lose it folks. So just to be clear again, ticking off this goal means that this is with you for the rest of your life. How good will it be going in to 2016 not having to have that as your New Years’ resolution!
So how should you make this resolution happen then? How do we get it to stick?
You need to frame your cherished resolution in way that motivates and excites you. This is normally best achieved when you write it down, being emotive and using colourful detail. Things like how energetic you will be feeling when you are jumping out of bed early for walk, run, swim, cycle or whatever you enjoy, how nice it will be to see your arms toned, the sweet sound of your clear breathing as you lift the bag of mulch in your garden with apparent ease. Notice I said ‘write it down’. Any resolution put down on paper has earned itself the right to be called a goal and it becomes more real the moment you see it in front of you. Don’t miss this bit, as it is a vital part of the process.
The next thing I want you do is put your goal into symbol or picture form. This step creates a vital link in your emotional brain which has been shown to cement or anchor the desired behavioural actions required. The last part is to put this piece of paper with your goals in graphic form where you will see it every day. We have all heard that you will become whatever you think about all day long. It makes sense then to have that visual prompt on high rotation, giving yourself the best chance to groove your brain with the right stuff.
When you write things down it is important to speak as if you are already there too. If you say you are going to be ‘fit and toned up’ it is just way too general and vague. Try this. “By 31 December 2015 I am feeling energised and look strong, vital and healthy. My family is telling me how good I look. I have months of regular exercise behind me and I now simply do something that celebrates my body’s ability to move, most days. I don’t have to think about this anymore. I have always wanted to be someone who exercises in some way daily. I am now that person. I can’t wait for what I can do next.”
Long live the resolution when it is done well! I want you to think how successfully achieving yours will set you up to keep getting better at some aspect of your health each year. Who said we have to degenerate? Even if you were an Olympic athlete, there is always some aspect of your fitness (mobility, strength, flexibility, aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness, agility, power, endurance) that you can aim to improve a little each year. As for the rest of us, take your pick on what you want to improve because we can always be better!
Research tells us that most of the things we associate with aging are more related to the lifestyle choices that we make. How exciting and motivating is it to think we can make different choices and through resolve create a different future?
Have a great 2015 folks!
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