1. Be clear about what you want
The number one step to achieving any goal is in fact to be clear about the goal itself. Indeed, how will you know what to work towards, or even when you have achieved it, if you have no idea of what you are seeking? Being able to explain and describe your goal is essential. And being as specific as you can will greatly increase your confidence in the outcome. Even better, visualise it: fast-forward to the near future, and see how you will feel, what situations you will be in, what experiences and thoughts you will have. How will you look, what clothes will you wear, how will your body feel? You can even ask your future self what steps you made to get there. Return to the same visualisation when you have doubts or lose your drive, and see what effect this has on your motivation and self-belief.
2. Learn how you achieve success
We all have a different approach to getting results. Understand how you achieve your success at work and in your career, then translate that to your training routine. You are at your best when you plan carefully and stick to a well-defined programme? Do the same with your exercise and eating: plan ahead, book your sessions and build your weekly menus in advance. You are successful by learning from others first? Get a Personal Trainer or train with an experienced gym-goer until you are able to develop your own workouts and eating plans. We all have different approaches, methods and ways of managing ourselves and our lives: find what works best for you.
3. Focus on small changes
When it comes to making changes to your lifestyle, less is more. For many people, trying to build too many new habits in one go will result in a sense of being overwhelmed, and eventually lead to failure. Instead, focussing on 1 or 2 changes at a time will seem more achievable. If a change looks too big, break it down into smaller steps. Want to be training five times a week? Start with two or three times for the first few weeks before gradually increasing. Want to be able to run 5km without stopping? Start by allowing yourself to walk when needed before gradually increasing the length of your runs.
4. Be flexible
Of course, no plan is fail-proof: life often gets in the way. Your relationship, job, friends or family will all at some point be a priority over your fitness regime. So you must learn to be flexible, and to allow for changes in your diary. If you need to cancel a training session, re-schedule it straight away, ideally for the next day or at the very least within the same week. Include weekends in your training days to give yourself more flexibility during your workweek. Learn some bodyweight exercises and a quick routine that you can fit in on days you cannot get to a gym. Even a 15min run is better than nothing: absolutely everything counts towards your goal.
5. Stay committed
The key to achieving any goal and overcoming any obstacle is commitment. Make your fitness goals one of your top priorities for a while, and take the conscious decision to make the right choices everyday. You are the only person that is able to make the changes: take full responsibility for your actions, commit to your goal and maintain a high level of discipline. Remind yourself of the reasons behind your goal, and keep at it.
6. Reinforce positive action
Finally, in order to stay on the right track, it is important not to let the times you sway off-course cloud your judgement. It is very easy to get hung-up on the bowl of chips we had for dinner, the big night out we had by “mistake” or the morning jog we skipped for a lie-in. However, avoid any sense of regret or judgement, which can easily lead to the undoing of all the good decisions you made so far. Instead, congratulate yourself for taking positive action: give yourself a mental pat on the back every time you make a step in the right direction. Surround yourself with people that will do the same, that will support you and provide positive feedback, and will add to your commitment and determination to achieving your fitness goals.
Will Pike – 28th August 2012