Getting to reflect on all that has happened over the past 12 months is always fun for me. This year has been amazing. Every aspect of my life has seen such tremendous growth and improvement that it’s hard to believe it has all happened in only 12 months. I am truly a blessed man.
Although it’s nice (and necessary) to reflect on all the good things of the year, I always encourage people to try to also set their gaze onto things that will make the following year even better. This usually becomes the catalyst to them making goals or “resolutions” for the New Year.
The challenge though is that pretty much every goal requires a behavior change and that is never easy. We get into routines of doing things that are comfortable and familiar and it is difficult to break free of them even if doing so would mean a better life for ourselves. This has been the major factor leading to the widespread epidemic of failure to reach New Year’s goals and resolutions.
In this newsletter I want to offer up the most succinct and important advice to ensuring that you don’t become one of these failures. This is based on my own experience reaching the health goals I’ve set for myself over the years (most notably beating leukemia, losing over 80 pounds and keeping a chronic back problem completely under control) as well as helping hundreds of others do the same.
1. First and foremost you must develop a strong hate list.A hate list is a list of things that you cannot stand about your health and/or your life that you believe you have the power to change. Often times we need to have phrases in our mind or in our speech such as “I can’t stand this” or “I can’t live like this anymore” to be motivated enough to do the work it takes to improve. When it’s simply a “good idea” or something “we should do” it doesn’t move us to take action. We have to constantly be reminding ourselves of what we don’t like and why we don’t like it.
For instance, when I was dealing with my back problem, one of the things that used to cause a lot of pain was sitting for long periods. When this would happen in the car I would sometimes have to pull over and get out so I could ease the pain. The thing that I hated about this was the feeling that my body was breaking down and that I could get worse if I didn’t do something. I hated the feeling of not being in control of this aspect of my health and I hated the feeling of not knowing if someday I may herniate a disc, or develop some other kind of serious spinal condition. This moved me to take massive action. I started getting MAT every week (and have continued long after the pain subsided) I do my reinforcement exercises every weekday, I prioritize those muscle groups when exercising in the gym, I make sure my posture is ideal when sitting, bending or lifting and I work to eliminate inflammatory foods that exacerbate my issue. This type of commitment and follow through would not be possible if I hadn’t been laser focused on what I hated about this problem and why.
Exercise 1 is to create your hate list. List every reason why you hate the problem you have and put some emotion into it. What do you hate about how it makes you FEEL, both physically and mentally? This list will be your driving force to do the work to overcome the problem and continue to do the work to maintain your success long after.
2. Strive for consistency above all else.Why is it that 50% or more of people who start their new year’s resolution in January will quit after only a few weeks? Of course, much of it is because they didn’t create a strong enough hate list, but another big reason is that they got too focused on achieving the goal and not enough on being consistent in the behaviors that will get them there.
This is an extremely common problem. Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds this year. More than likely your focus is going to be on the scale and how much it changes day to day, week to week. Why? Because you badly want to see the number go down so you can feel that you did what you set out to do. What if instead you set your focus on one day at a time, making one right decision at a time? What if your mindset was, I’m going to focus on sticking to my diet today, drinking enough water today and doing some exercise today? What if each and every day you made this your primary focus and made the scale secondary? What if you began to judge your success not on whether you lost a pound but on whether you did the little things each day that would help you lose the weight? What do you think would happen?
It’s all too easy to get focused on the ends rather than the means. When we do this one of two things happens. Either we never reach our desired end because we fail to do the little things each day to get there or we reach our desired end and then quit the behaviors that got us there so we revert back to where we were before. However, if we focus on consistency and make that our primary goal, then we actually develop new habits, new routines and those become our new normal way of living. This way we will not only reach our goals but we will have built the routines and the disciplines to help us maintain them.
Exercise 2- Develop a list of 3-4 things you can do each day or each week that will help you reach your intended goal. Strive to be consistent with the completion of these small things and keep your focus on those things above all else.
3. Get the RIGHT help. It’s silly to think that we can accomplishment anything worthwhile without some help along the way. Look at anyone who is highly successful in anything and you will see great coaches and mentors all around them. Getting the right help allows for guidance, wisdom, extra inspiration and accountability. We can get help from books, from support groups or from hired professionals. Getting this help will help us figure out a good plan of action and help us stay on track with the little things along the way. Regardless of how you go about it, make sure that you choose a trusted source with experience and credibility and once you do, make a commitment that you are going to follow the prescribed plan exactly as you’re supposed to for as long as you are supposed to. This will be crucial to getting where you want to be.
Exercise 3- Identify an individual, a group or a resource you can turn to for guidance and understanding on how to reach your goal and follow the advice you receive.
I invite you to share your hate list and your list of little things you inted to do each day with me. If you’d like to do that just reply to this email.