“I’m not sure how well I’m going to do today.” A client said to me, this last Saturday morning.
“Oh yeah?” I ask.
“I drank too much last night….but I’m here. ” He replies.
“Did I tell you I stopped drinking?” I ask.
“No, really? When?” He asks.
“About four weeks ago. Originally it was going to be just a 12 week experiment, but I've extended it till at least mid March. I’m going to get 3 certification exams done by then. I’m also tracking how it affects my body. I’ve already lost 4 lbs and several inches from my waist, hips, and legs. ” I answer.
“Oh wow. That’s great!” He exclaims. “ So do you think drinking has been stopping you from getting all of that done?”
“No, not stopping me. It’s just a distraction. I’m really trying to focus right now.” I answer.
“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”
How can we really commit to a goal, if there are distractions in the way?
I have been working diligently the last year to eliminate unwanted distractions from my life. I am convinced that we cannot focus on more than a handful of things at a time, if we truly want to see positive change. It is not to say that we cannot achieve a multitude of goals. But we must prioritize our time. We must focus only on a few things at a time.
Over the last couple weeks I have asked you the following questions:
What fitness goal are you trying to achieve?
What do you need to take out of your life, in order to have time to dedicate to your goal?
What are the exercises you will use to get to your goal?
When will you schedule these exercises?
And now… the hardest question. Will you commit yourself to this process?
What I have heard over and over, with clients and friends, is that they lack the motivation or willpower to carry through their plans. They ask how I stay motivated. They are often not happy to learn, I believe motivation is not what will help them. I do not think working on being more motivated will help you either.
Motivation does nothing for you when “life” hits. It is self-discipline that drives you to follow through with your plans. There are going to be days you don’t want to exercise or eat healthy. But if you are armed with your process, and you have the time set aside in your schedule for your healthy habits, you are much more likely to succeed. The follow through is really up to you. You just have to execute your plan.
Where does my self-discipline come from? Mine is deep rooted in knowing there is no other way I want to live. I have promised myself that I will no longer live in fear. I will put myself first, so that I can give the best of myself to my work and my loved ones. I will be a person who follows through on my commitments to myself, and I will encourage others to do the same. No one else can get you the results you want. You have to put in the work, day after day, and never quit. This has to become who you are, if you want it to be permanent.
With that said, do not be afraid to continually review your process.
You may find the plan you made for yourself is too rigid. I have personally refrained from time limits. This helps remove daily stress I might feel on the path to success. I have also taken away exercises that I truly dislike doing. If you dread your workouts, you may very well not do them. There is always an alternative exercise you could try to achieve the same goal.
You may also find that your process is too easy. Many times we become “unmotivated” because our plan is not challenging. If your process is not challenging to you, it is easy to become disengaged. I had originally planned on only getting one test done by March. But after a few weeks of review, I discovered that adding the challenge of three, really engaged me. After all, the original test I have been talking about since 2005! Now with three coming, my focus is much more sharp.
Abstaining from alcohol originally started when a close friend told me they were going to quit for awhile, to focus on themselves. I thought it was a great idea, and I was very excited for them. But then over the next few days I thought…”Well, what about me? Why wouldn’t it be great for me too?” I then started to come up with a long mental list of all the positives of not drinking for a few months. Each positive lead to another positive.
The only downside to giving up alcohol, was that I’d be giving up one of my only “treats”(and my beloved twice a month “ happy hours”). But the truth was, this “treat” was becoming a rule in my life instead of an exception. I had actually budgeted wine into my grocery list for the week. I would never budget in any other “treat” like cookies, ice cream, or french fries. Why had I decided that alcohol needed to be a part of my regular routine, instead of just a “happy hour” treat a couple times a month? I didn’t have the answer...
I’ve met some pretty solid resistance the last few weeks. The first week alone, I was invited to drink 9 times. The total is now up to 21 invitations. It has fueled my belief that maybe this small thing in my life, is actually bigger than it should be. In just 4 weeks, I lost 5 inches between my upper waist and my thighs. I had no idea that I was carrying an extra 4 lbs and 5 inches of alcohol on my body.
This last month has made me even more convinced, that the practices of self-discipline and focus are what cause lasting change. What else are we carrying around on our bodies? What else are we using to numb ourselves? What else is there in my life that I could put down, in order to be be the strongest version of myself? What else could I re-evaluate in my life?
I am continually looking at the “process” I am using to achieve my goals. I am continually analysing why I do the things I do, and how they affect my goals. I invite you to do the same.
Growth is a process…Progress is a process...becoming the strongest version of you is a process.
Take time for yourself.
Define your goals... and then forget them.
Focus on your process... those little steps that will make a huge difference in the end.
Commit to the process, and commit to putting yourself first.
If you come upon resistance, do not be afraid to review what you have committed to.
Above all, I invite you to consider my new lifelong resolution.
“Stop searching for motivation and develop a strong self-discipline. Motivation will fail you, while your self-discipline will keep you focused and successful.” - Maile Inouye - Mai Trainer, LLC