"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step" ~Lao Tzu
2017 is here and with a new year comes new years resolutions. In my last post we talked about making a plan for changing habits this year. Your homework was to think long and hard about what you wanted to change. What would make you a better version of yourself?
Hopefully you did your homework and have some resolutions in mind. If you didn't read my last post, no worries, you can find the link here.
Resolutions bring out the best in all of us. We make a conscious effort to do something that we don't normally do, like go to the gym, mobilize, or eat healthier, all in the name of being better than last year.
What amazes me is that nearly 80% of people last less than 3 months when it comes to following through with their resolutions. Even scarier is the fact that over 40% of people make it less than 1 month!
You can make change...
If you're like most people, you spend the first month going to the gym every week then slowly stop going as frequently as your newfound passion starts to fade. You prove to yourself that you can do it but now that your passion is fading away you're having trouble making lasting change. So how do we take a short term success and turn it into a long term lifestyle change?
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I hate to tell you this but in order to change, you need to change...
Sounds silly doesn't it. Of course you have to change in order to change... The problem though is that this is easier said than done.
For most of us, the hardest part about making a change to ourselves is understanding the fact that in order to change, things can't stay the way they are. It means we're going to have to put in a lot of hard work and sacrifice and be uncomfortable for a little while but that's OK! It might mean not being able to go out every weekend. It might mean converting to a standing desk, or maybe it means cooking your meals instead of eating out.
Every time we aim to introduce a habit we must recognize that it's not already a habit because it's not part of our current routine. In order to make something a habit we have to add it to our routine which means doing something that we don't normally do, and do it consistently. It sounds simple but it's not. We're going to stumble along the way but with the end at sight we can steer the habit ship in the right direction.
Here are a few tips I've used to make life changing habits part of my daily routine. Whenever I lose sight of what I'm trying to accomplish, I come back to these to get me back on track.
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1) Write it down!
My favorite thing to do is write down reminders on a mirror in my bedroom with a dry erase marker. After I wake up every morning and before I go to bed every night I can remind myself of what I'm working on. The best reminder is a constant reminder.
2) Get Early Wins
Remember that creating a lifestyle change isn't as simple as flipping a switch. It's the result of hundreds of small accomplishments all aimed towards one end goal. You're allowed to dream as big as you want but it's also important to set small milestones along the way so you know when you're making progress.
Set small milestones, ones you know you can accomplish, and build on them. Success is a powerful motivator so set yourself up for it. If you want to run a marathon but you've been a couch potato for the last decade, start by taking the stairs at work. Then jog a half mile. Then a mile. Then a 5k. Before you know it, you'll have the endurance to run a marathon! It just takes hard work and never losing sight of why.
As you start pursuing your resolutions you'll start to find out pretty quickly what works and what doesn't work. Everyone's schedule is different so it's important to refine the process until you find something that works for you. Changing your course of action isn't failure as long as you continue to work towards your new goal. Be patient, test your limits, get uncomfortable, and keep pursuing.
This is the hardest part but it's also the part that solidifies an action into a habit. It's important that you perform your new habit as consistently as you can. I'd rather you do something 3-5 days per week every week than to do it 7 days a week for only 3-5 weeks.
Every time you reach one of your small milestones, make sure you reward yourself. Rewards typically start small and grow as the magnitude of your accomplishments change. Be sure to acknowledge the hard work you've put in to help motivate yourself to keep going until it becomes second nature.
For someone looking to improve their range of motion, a few small milestones may look like this:
-Sign up for a structured Mobility Program
-Learn and practice the benefits of an organized neutral position while standing
- Keep a flat back and tight core as you squat...
- ...below parallel...
- ...with feet flat on the ground...
- ...and toes pointed forward...
- ...and a barbell on your back...
- ...etc. etc. etc...
-Keeping building on your successes
6) Prepare for Failure
It's going to happen. What makes top performers better than the average Joe is that when they fail, they learn from their mistakes and try again.
I like to use Golf as an example. Golf is not about being perfect. Golf is a game of who can miss the best. When you slice one into the trees what do you do? Give up? No! You punch that 5 iron back into the fairway and continue to progress towards the green. It might have been a small setback, but that's not going to stop you. Only focus on the things you can control, not the things you can't.
Anytime you're getting down on yourself, remember where you started and never forget why you wanted it to begin with. You know it will make you better, and it will.
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