I see too many people get overwhelmed by their goals. They join a gym because they want to get stronger, fitter, lose 10 pounds and are trying to eat healthier too. They are half in on a bunch of different goals, instead of being determined and focused on one.
Your plate is too big, you want to do too much and it will only lead to failure. What I’m going to convince you of here, is by having one main focus, the other things you want to accomplish will fall in to place. I want you to set your bar lower. Expect less from yourself. We all see where we want to be – 15 pounds lighter, stronger, faster, you name it. We all have these goals, and we want to set out and do a total overhaul.
The overhaul method, hardly ever works. Remember, you’re a person, you have a full-time job, spouse, kids, hobbies, and you probably like to sleep and eat, too. That’s a lot! We are all busy, our health gets neglected until we decide that we have crossed the line too and become “unhealthy.”
Instead of trying to do a total life overhaul, I want you to pick one thing. One simple thing that you can do each day that will help you achieve all of your desires.
Let’s say you want to clean up your diet. Right now, there is no semblance of a diet. You grab whatever for breakfast on the way to work, head out with your co-workers at lunch and go out for dinner or take out most nights. Since you know you’re slipping on your health, you also want to workout 3 times per week, run twice a week and quit drinking.
Instead of going cold turkey on all your eating habits. Start with one meal. Commit to eating a better lunch every day. Pack it ahead of time or in the morning before work or commit to cooking breakfast at home each morning. Once you master that, you can add another habit. I like to see 10 days- 14 days before adding another habit. Let’s say you nail it with cooking breakfast each morning. Now, you can tackle your work out goal.
If you want to train 3 times per week. Make your goal to train twice per week. This will increase your adherence to the habit because it is easier to manage. It’s less overwhelming and if you get 3 workouts in each week, you’re going to be thrilled with your commitment and progress.
Setting the bar lower prevents you from beating yourself up over something. If you take a big piece of the pie and want to work out 5 times per week, as soon as you miss one, you’re failing. Life is crazy though, of course you are going to miss one! Set the bar lower and buy yourself some buffer space for when life gets in the way.
For the past 2 years I have been trying to develop a meditation practice. I get hot streaks when I comply every day and then there’s times that I can’t seem to get motivated. I started out using a 10-minute, guided meditation. It was helpful and I enjoyed doing it and sensed the benefits after a month or so of practice. But, 10 minutes was too long. I started coming up with excuses each morning and would reach for my phone to scroll through Instagram instead. Right now, I’m on my longest streak of daily meditation. I was finally able to commit to a long term practice by lowering my expectations. Instead of 10 minutes in the morning, I shoot for 5. Now I’m up to 7 minutes after about 8 weeks.
It is no coincidence that my workouts have been better in the past 8 weeks. I have more energy, I’m more focused during them and actually look forward to it. I know that it is because I’m taking a few minutes in the morning to set the tone for the day. Focusing on one thing, consistently, leads to other good things happening.
By expecting less from myself, I was able to do more. Take a look at your goals. Are the realistic? Or are they just a list that you wish would magically happen? Try to find where you can expect less from yourself to increase your compliance.