Have you ever had a goal that meant so much to you that you instantly decided to do everything in your power to achieve it? For example, about a year ago I got really fed up with being out of shape. I had a lingering injury that kept me from working out like I really wanted to for a couple of years. I got into bad habits of eating a lot of fast food and having basically zero physical activity. Well, one night I was watching one of those late-night infomercials for some kind of fitness program, and it got me all riled up! I was sick of being out of shape. I decided right then that I needed to get back in shape fast! Now!
So I immediately got up and wrote out my new workout plan- lifting weights 6 days/week and running 4 days/week. I also made up a very strict meal plan. And the next day I exercised and ate as planned. And the next day. And the next day. On Day 4, I woke up so sore and starving that I binged on junk food and laid around all day. Then I felt sick and sluggish. By Day 5, I was still sluggish- I didn’t exercise, and I didn’t plan my meals. So I wound up eating fast food for lunch and dinner, and I was officially “off the wagon” – again.
Does that sound familiar? Where did I go wrong? The problem is I tried to erase 3 year’s worth of bad habits overnight. It was too much of a shock to my system- mentally and physically. Could I have just “powered through” and willed myself to keep on going? Possibly. But the smarter approach would have been to take baby steps… to make an incremental improvement. For example, my first week goals could have been:
1) Jog 2 days this week.
2) Lift light weights 3 days this week.
3) Bring a healthy lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
Then for Week 2:
1) Jog 3 days this week.
2) Lift weights 4 days this week.
3) Cook my own healthy dinner every night.
You can do this with any goal. Trust me, the all-or-nothing approach can be a killer. I gave up after a few days because I viewed my situation as a failure. But I really set myself up for failure. Had I planned a more gradual change, I would have set myself up for little successes every day that would have eventually amounted to a greater success!
Whatever your goal is, whatever area of your life you want to improve- just do a little more today than you did yesterday. Lay the proper foundation, and build on it every day. This is success to me- being better than I was yesterday. Make it your mantra. “I will be better today than I was yesterday.” At the end of a week or a month, you will have definitely accomplished something. Your better habits will begin to take hold, and then you can step it up and challenge yourself even more. Imagine what you can accomplish in 6 months or a year by taking consistent action. You don’t have to change your whole life overnight. Just chip away at it a little bit every day. Make every day a success. So what are you waiting for? Get started!