If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it is to expect the unexpected. This year has brought forth challenges that nobody could have predicted. But every challenge is a learning opportunity to learn, grow, and adapt. These traits are essential when we set and pursue our own individual goals. When we set a goal, we envision the outcome that we want to achieve. We determine the steps that we will need to take to reach that outcome. And we get to work!
But there is a crucial part that we often forget in our planning process: expecting unexpected obstacles. Many obstacles in our daily lives make it difficult to make changes, and these obstacles can quickly derail our progress. But sometimes, though – WE are the obstacle.
How Our Habits Make Or Break Us
Our habits and behaviors can create the largest impasses, which causes us to stand in our way. Behavior is defined as “how one acts or conducts oneself” and “how a person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus.” The way that we act and react every day creates our behavior patterns. Our actions become our behaviors – and our behaviors become patterns. We develop and cultivate, both consciously and unconsciously, thousands and thousands of behavior patterns. Many are beneficial for our growth, relationships, and goals, but we also create and develop negative behavior patterns. Procrastinating, losing motivation when we become frustrated, cutting corners, and quitting when we don’t see results are prevalent negative behaviors. Each time we exhibit these behaviors, our brains are trained to continue to react in the same way.
There are common errors that we make when setting and pursuing goals. One of the most common reasons people fail to grow or achieve new goals is the inability to change a negative behavior pattern. So without further ado, if you are holding onto any of these behaviors, you may be standing in your way:
Being Too Hard On Yourself
Failures are part of success, and they are a part of the journey. Small failures pave the road to significant victories. Remember, you’re human. You are going to make mistakes. You are not going to master every single healthy habit right away or master it all the time. There may be days that you indulge in all the desserts, or you skip your workout. But instead of being too hard on yourself, ask yourself, What can I learn from this? How can this make me (or something) better? How can I move forward?
Being Too Lenient With Yourself
On the contrary, being too laid back with yourself can be just as damaging to your progress. If you allow yourself to cut corners in your workout, sneak cheats in your meal plan, or slack off on doing the work to achieve your goals, progress will be challenging. This is why having an accountability person or coach is so beneficial. They will hold you accountable, so you can’t push everything to the back burner.
Full transparency, I fall into this trap quite frequently. If I want a piece of cake or eat pizza for dinner (for the third time that week), I’ll tell myself that I’ll start my healthy eating back up next week, and then I completely sabotage my 80/20 rule (eat healthy 80% of the time to enjoy the 20%) because nobody is holding me accountable. As I said, this is why having an accountability person or coach (like myself) can be so beneficial.
Procrastination – I will tell you about this one later…. just kidding
Most of us tend to put off doing the things that we don’t perceive as pleasurable or easy. But this can be a slippery slope because postponing activities that we don’t associate with pleasure actually creates dread and anxiety towards that activity. When you postpone your workout or meal prep, you subconsciously begin to dread it, and then you turn it into a negative activity. Having a negative attitude towards your plan’s action steps is a quick way to lose motivation and willpower. Even if you don’t necessarily enjoy working out to the highest point of exertion, you should at least enjoy what you are doing enough not to dread it or dislike it. Working towards a healthy lifestyle should not feel like a chore. It should feel enjoyable! Try different things to see what you enjoy, whether it’s preparing for a 5k, trying new workout classes, or even playing sports with the kids or friends regularly.
Saying you don’t have time
This is probably the number one obstacle that I hear. We say that we are too busy with all of our other obligations and expectations, and the plan that we had for ourselves gets bumped to the back burner. We don’t make it to the gym. We don’t do that home workout. We don’t meal prep. Here’s the thing though, we all have the same 24 hours in the day, even the busiest people. Your goals and a little bit of “you time” are just as important as all of the things that you do for others. Whether it is scheduling time at the gym, signing up for a fitness class and putting it on the schedule, or just reserving a small chunk of time to work on a personal goal. Schedule it, RSVP to it, and then stick to it! Having it scheduled will help give you time!
We live in a society that is fueled by the love of instant gratification – lose 30 lbs in 10 days! (For the record, that isn’t possible. Please don’t fall into that marketing trap) Reaching any worthwhile goal takes TIME and PATIENCE; otherwise, the goal was too easy!.
Setting clear and measurable goals with planned action steps is the best way to promote success when it comes to your goals. As Yogi Berra says, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” Having an action plan is extremely important. The key to succeeding with your fitness goals – and any goal really – is to identify your goal and determine the steps needed to reach that goal. Once you develop a plan of how and when you will complete those steps, put that plan in writing, and then hold yourself accountable to your plan.
Not having a clear why
Having a goal is not enough because it won’t push you when things get hard. You have to have a why – and it has to be a strong enough WHY. Be honest and real with WHY you want your goals to happen. As a personal trainer and nutritionist, many people say they want to lose weight, but then that’s the extent of it. When you’re setting up a goal, you have to connect that goal to what matters to you.
If you are having trouble with your “why,” try asking yourself “why” several times because you have a deep-rooted reason. Asking yourself “why” several times helps get past the surface and dig into your strong WHY that will keep you going when things get hard – because they will! Having a strong “why” will help combat every single one of these obstacles.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
Living a healthy lifestyle with healthy eating and working out may be too challenging right now because of homeschooling the kids, figuring out what to do on your own (with gyms shut down), sticking to a schedule or routine (life is totally different at the moment), or enjoying your workout. But I want to offer you this simple advice: Be intentional about making your healthy lifestyle work for YOU right now! Find a time that works for YOU. Find a workout that works for YOU. And if life gets in the way, find a new day/time that works for YOU.
Life is full of challenges. When things get challenging, or unexpected obstacles arise, it can be discouraging. When this happens, we sometimes view challenges as a negative thing, but the truth is – we need challenges! Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you (which is one of my favorite quotes, and I tell clients this all the time).
If everything were easily attainable, we would never grow. Take a few moments to identify potential obstacles, and take a few moments to reflect on some of these self-sabotaging behaviors. Once you remove the “unexpected” aspect, you will have an opportunity to create a strategic plan for how you want to navigate that obstacle. Let’s look at challenges as opportunities to increase our problem-solving skills, hone our goal-setting skills, and kick booty. We will get better and better at overcoming obstacles and not be standing in our own way!