Ah, we’re approaching the first month of the first year of the new decade.  It’s the time of year for resolutions, goals, and intention-setting.  Whatever you call it, it’s how you are stating to yourself, and those you share with, your vision for growth and change.  Change implies action and taking action always feels good. 

Except when we try to change everything at once. And that’s what tends to happen this time of year – radically changing your diet and fitness routine just isn’t a sustainable strategy over the long term.  A recent article explains why attempting giant, sweeping changes, especially without adequate support in place, is perceived by our habit- and comfort-seeking brain as trauma. 

In the fitness world, the sad reality is that by the third week in January, the gym crowds have thinned and many people who resolved to make awesome changes to their health and well-being give up.  Don’t be that person.  

Here’s how to make 2020 your healthiest and fittest year yet:

It starts with your goals.  Here’s how to set goals that help set you up for success. 

1) Create a Destination Postcard.  Start by defining an outcome or results-based goal that you desire, but dig below the surface a bit.  What do you REALLY want to change? Change is a journey and hindsight is 2020, right?  Let’s use these ideas to jumpstart your goals.   

A Destination Postcard lets you imagine your future self telling your present self all the amazing things you accomplished over the year, how you did it, and the obstacles you overcame to get there.  It gives a fully textured vision of what you want to look like, feel like and be able to do one year from now.  The more vivid your descriptions the better.  

Some things to consider are: 

  • What exactly needs to change in your life to achieve your goal, and
  • How these changes will enhance your life or make you happier.

So what will 2020 You say to 2019 You?  

2) Know your WHY.  Now that you’ve crafted a vision for yourself, dive a little deeper and consider why this goal is important to you.  Your “why” is the anchor that keeps you on track when the going gets rough.  And the going will get rough.  That’s life.   

What is the real reason why you might find yourself willing and motivated to get up before dawn to get to the gym, avoid the bakery aisle in the grocery store, skip dessert 6 nights out of 7, or stop at 1 glass of wine?  Write it down.  I ask my clients to dive through at least 5 rounds of “why?” to get to the one that deeply resonates.  

What’s your big WHY?

3) Consider your other obligations.  Here comes the reality check.  For long term success, your fitness and nutrition have to work around your lifestyle instead of upending it or dominating it.  

Look at upcoming deadlines, vacations, special events, kids’ activities, and other events that could disrupt your ideal plan…then plan for them.  

Look at the way you spend your day and evaluate how any change you need to achieve your goal can fit into your day. 

If you don’t plan for those disruptions and expect to power through, then you’re just planning to disrupt your plan.  That makes it hard to stay on course. And when you get off course it can be tricky to regain your momentum when things settle down.

At this point, it’s helpful to consider both what you are WILLING to do to reach your goals and what you are UNWILLING to do.  Ideally, these are aligned somehow with your “why.”  Define your non-negotiables before you set a course.  For example, if you really don’t want to give up bacon, is resolving to go vegan realistic for you?  If you’re a night owl, does hitting the gym before going to work sound doable?

4) Create your plan of action.  Now that you know your destination (an outcome goal), have a strong why to carry you through rough patches, and considered your busy life, what actions will you need to take to help you reach your goals? It’s time to draft your road map.

  • What timeframe are you trying to work within?  
  • What habits or skills do you need to learn or practice along the way?    
  • Pick ONLY one habit or action to focus on at a time.  It needs to be able to have a home on your calendar when you commit to doing it.  You can decide you’re going to go to the gym 3x a week or meal prep on the weekend…but make sure you designate a specific day and time for them.  
  • You should feel 90% confident that you can actually carry out the action.  If you can’t imagine meditating 20 minutes a day, is 5 minutes more realistic?  Shrink your action steps to whatever is needed to help you build consistency.

A big vision is inspiring, but consistently taking action, no matter how small, will help you reach your destination.

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy New Year!

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