Focus on it. Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But I’m telling you now that so much gets in the way these days that it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. Let’s say that over the next year you want to lose 40kgs. In that time you’re likely to get sick a couple of times, maybe go on holidays, probably have a few things in your personal life that are challenging, have some stressful times at work, etc. These are all moments where you can easily fall off the bandwagon and struggle to jump back on it — but it’s important to ride the storm and get straight back on that bandwagon. The longer you stay off, the harder it is to get back up on it.
Break it down. Here’s the thing: If you’re going to set an awesome goal, it’s going to be scary — and if it’s going to be scary, it’s easy enough for you to abandon it before you’ve given it a really good crack. So one of the most important things you can do is break it down. At the moment I’m training a young fella who wants to lose 40kgs. He’s a great kid who wants to do it all, and he’s very motivated — but it’s still pretty overwhelming. So, as cliche as it is, we’re taking it one week at a time. I don’t care about what things look like in 10—20 weeks’ time; I want to focus on this week and him hitting the goals for this week — which are nailing his breakfast and dropping the first few kilos. Progress doesn’t have to be anything outrageous — but it does have to be consistent.
Be realistic. This young kid who’s looking to lose 40kgs came in wanting to flip his WHOLE diet upside down and follow the food plan I’ve created for men to a tee. But that food plan is designed for someone looking to lose the last 5—10% body fat and who already has pretty good eating patterns. For someone his size, and who has been eating the diet he’s been eating, all we need to do is focus on his breakfast for the time being and that will help him lose the first 10 kilos. If you try to make changes too large right off the bat, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are many reasons why 97% of diets don’t work — and one of them is because they aren’t realistic.
Set a date. A goal without a date and an action plan is really just a vague thought you’re having that you’re hoping you’ll achieve — and chances are you won’t. You need to set a specific goal and you need an end point. For example, there’s a big difference between ‘wanting to lose weight’ and ‘wanting to lose 7kgs by March 17, 2015, so I look my best for my wedding’. Guess which one is more motivating?
Be committed and get on with it. Each and every day I have people come to me and get really pumped up about achieving their goals — and as strange as it sounds, those are the ones I’m weary of. In my 12 years as a personal trainer I’ve seen a common trend among those who ‘talk it up’ and are over the top zealous about their goals — and that’s that they’re the ones who tend to crash and burn. The reason is that the initial excitement and motivation wears off pretty quickly, and what actually gets it done is steady long-term commitment and passion toward your goals. Those I’ve seen be most successful are still excited about reaching their goals, but they don’t need all the ‘hypey’ behaviour — they tend to just get on with it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get excited about your goal (it’s awesome if you do!), just keep in mind that the initial excitement will wear off and if you’re not committed to the goal even during the non-excited times you’ll find it harder to see it through to the end.