Since we’re almost halfway through 2021, I thought it would be a good time to check in on your goals. How are you doing? Are you crushing it? Or do you need a swift kick in the (workout) pants? Maybe you fall somewhere in between?
As a member of Merritt, I know you want results. But I’m guessing sticking to goals and healthy habits isn’t always easy for you. That’s called human nature. Maybe you struggle with willpower, self-control, discipline, motivation. Maybe you run hot and cold. Or maybe you are sitting here in June wondering where the months have gone. You may feel like you’ve barely left the starting block.
It’s okay. Regardless of where you are today, there’s time. Your goals don’t have to be all or nothing. Life is full of diversions, and wellness is for the long haul.
I recently read a book that really clicked for me. That book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you haven’t read this book, grab a copy now. In this book, Clear discusses the foundational practices that help create the healthy habits that lead to results. The book really helped me reframe my thinking surrounding habits and recommit to the mindset that will help me achieve my goals.
So I thought I would list ten takeaways from the book – five this month, and five in next month’s blog. It’s tough to narrow it to ten, but my hope is that these tips will help reignite the spark within you that pushes you towards your goals. So let’s get to it. Here are the first five takeaways:
- “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
Are you improving? Are you on a good path? Are you doing the little things that add up to big things? Don’t obsess over results. Just make sure your trajectory is upward. Eventually you will cross the “critical threshold” of results. If your trajectory is downward, break the trajectory. Something small. Buy new workout shoes. Go to the gym once this week. Whatever it takes. Just get on the right path and the results WILL come. As Clear says, “Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits.” What is your current trajectory?
- “The more you repeat a behavior, the more you reinforce the identity associated with that behavior.”
Clear goes on to say that it’s a simple two step-process:
1) Decide the type of person you want to be.
2) Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Instead of expecting instant success, just start doing the little things. Do the ten-minute workout. Eat the salad instead of the fries. Take the walk. Drink the water. Habits don’t require x number of days to form. They require repetition. Small acts on a frequent basis will yield greater results than larger acts on a less frequent basis. Do those things that are congruent with the type of person you want to be. And focus on repetition, not perfection.
- “…disciplined people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.”
Clear suggests that instead of trying to overcome the friction in your life, reduce it.
“The less energy a habit requires, the more likely it is to occur.” He goes on to use the analogy of a bent hose. “Trying to pump up your motivation to stick with a hard habit is like trying to force water through a bent hose. You can do it, but it requires a lot of effort and increases the tension in your life…Habits are easier to build when they fit into the flow of your life.” Where are the hose kinks in your life that are blocking the flow?
- “Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis. You have to standardize before you can optimize.”
Become really good at the easy, more foundational things before you try to progress and add complexity to whatever it is you are trying to master. A house of cards will eventually fall. Build a strong foundation first! Become a gym-goer (even if it’s five minutes a day) and learn how to use equipment correctly. Eventually move from beginner to intermediate before you worry about grinding it out for 60 minutes. Make it common practice to do the basic things well, then work on adding on and gaining more mastery.
- “… the costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.”
Think of yourself as Present You and Future You. Present You generally opts for whatever is pleasurable, easy to attain, and instantly gratifying. But Future You will appreciate all the sacrifices Present You makes for the good of Future You. If you eat poorly now, it feels satisfying in the moment. But you pay down the road. If you work hard to get fit now, it requires sacrifice and determination in the now. But you benefit down the road. Make choices that Future You will thank you for.
Let these thoughts marinate (in a non-sugary, low sodium sauce) for the next few weeks, and I will be back next month with five more tips. Maybe you will even have read the book by then, and we can share thoughts. I would love to hear from you!
Alison Jones is one of Merritt Clubs’ Health and Life Coaches. If you would like to schedule a session with Alison, or are interested in additional information about our Nutrition & Wellness services, please reach out to Lindsay Silbert at firstname.lastname@example.org.