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by Geoff Rand

Unless your goal for the New Year is to gain fat, spend more money, or work out less, it’s probably going to take some effort on your part to achieve it.  But all too often, what starts off as a fresh start, a grand idea, or fantastic change, quickly fades and you end up back where you started, or sometimes, even worse off than before you began. 

Riley Holland on shares this:

I have a friend who works at 24 Hour Fitness here in downtown Portland, and she told me they put a lockdown on employee travel for January, February, and March of each year.  Apparently, there are so many new gym memberships following the New Year that they can’t afford to lose any employees, even for a little while.  But by the time April hits, things have leveled off again.  All those good intentions have fallen by the wayside, and employees can hop on that plane to Hawaii and finally take a break. 

Statistically, less than 10% of people who make them actually stick to their resolutions.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  By changing the way you look at and approach your goals, you can have a much higher chance at success.

Narrow your Focus.  Many people flip open that new calendar and decide to totally remake themselves.  They come up with a huge list of all the things they don’t like in their life and decide to change them all.  I applaud them for wanting to make so many positive changes, but when you try to do too much all at once, everything falls apart.  You get discouraged and quickly decide to end all pursuits of greatness.  Instead, pick one change you’d like to make, and work towards it.  If you achieve that goal, that’s awesome.  No one says resolutions can only start in January.  Start on the next one after that goal is achieved.

Focus on the Positive.  There’s an ongoing joke at work about me and the blood type patch I wear on my vest, B POS.  My co-workers say it’s not really my blood type; it’s a reminder to not be so negative, as I apparently have a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of every situation.  Instead of thinking you’re disgusting and having the goal of losing 20 pounds, make your goal to reach XXX pounds.  Actually write it down and state "My goal is to reach a weight of XXX."  It might seem trivial, but it’s mentally more motivating to focus on the positive end result rather than the negative reason you chose that goal in the first place.  These hidden negatives are the stimulus for self-sabotage and inner resistance.

Have a Plan.  Anyone can say they want to lose weight, earn more money, drink less, etc., but without a clear plan, that resolution is just a wish.  Your goal needs to be realistic, specific, measurable, and challenging. 

Maybe you want to run a marathon this year.  Only ever run a 5k before?  Maybe a half marathon is a more realistic goal.  Go ahead and sign up for that half, giving yourself some time to train.  Having a goal date is a tremendous way to boost motivation to achieve a goal.  As you see the days ticking away you are reminded that there is a deadline to meet. 

Next, break down the task into achievable mini-goals.  Say, by the end of the first month, you want to be able to run 5 miles without stopping.  Further break that up into daily and weekly tasks to arrive at that monthly goal, i.e. I need to run three miles a day or 15 miles total this week, etc.  This allows you to stay on track and measure your progress while making the end result seem not so daunting.

Celebrate Success.  You don’t need to wait until your goal is achieved to celebrate.  Define some clear milestones and treat yourself to a reward as you arrive at them.  This will help keep your motivation up.

Be Accountable.  One of the best motivators is another person, maybe even someone with the same goal as you.  In the military we say it’s someone “spilling the same blood in the same mud.”  This person might even need as much motivation as you do, but together you motivate each other to work towards that goal.  The reverse is also true, and I’ve seen it many times in the Box with friendly Facebook shaming after someone bails on a WOD they promised to be at.

Prime Your Environment.  Surround yourself with people who are at least like-minded, or ideally, working towards the same goal as you.  If you aim to lose weight, it’s probably not a good idea to hang out with people who live on fast food.  Join and participate in healthy forums, like our CrossFit Frederick Nutrition Challenge page.  Whatever it is, keep reminding yourself of the goal.  Post positive photos or motivational sayings in your office, kitchen, or car.  Maybe change all your passwords to “handstands2017” or something else that reminds you to keep focused on the objective.

Be Patient.  Especially if weight loss is your goal, remember that it took time to put on those pounds, and it will take time to work them off.  Don’t get discouraged if your results aren’t materializing as quickly as you’d like.  Throughout the journey to your goal, continually re-evaluate your progress and tweak your plan as needed to help stay on track and achieve better results.  Know that it will take time to retrain your brain and morph those bad habits into healthy behaviors, so be reasonable in your expectations. 

By incorporating these strategies into your plan to achieve your goal, you will have a much better chance at success than just wishing for a change.  Even if you fail to meet your objective, there is something to be gained.  Evaluate your experience and determine what worked and what didn’t, and adjust your plan and get back at it again.  You don’t have to wait until 2018 to give it another try.