First, try to set clear and realistic goals, and form a plan for making it happen. Identifying clear goals that ARE possible, and not “biting off more than we can chew” is an important first step. Too often, we come up with our initial goal and then fail to think about how to actually get to it. Usually the key to achieving any new goal is changing your routine and resources a bit. Go to the calendar and figure out whatever changes need to happen there. Dedicate some funds...or maybe remove funds for, say, smoking in order for the goal to be accomplished. Buy whatever gear you need for an activity. Make whatever calls, messages or visits needed to connect with people that can help and get the process started.
Next, don’t let the winter blues slow you down. The winter season can sap our energy levels and enthusiasm, making the improvements that we wanted an uphill battle. Shortened days, less sunlight, and frigid weather are known to affect us negatively, even causing loneliness, anxiety and depression. Sometimes we feel like all we want to do is hunker down and “Hibernate.” But, staying positive and increasing our activity level will typically make us feel more energized. Once we can make a routine of exercise, intelligent eating habits, and avoiding vices we will feel stronger, more fit, and happier. This all makes it easier to stick to the routine we’ve set and increases our chances of long term success.
To be successful we also need to also recognize traits and patterns that may have brought us to a negative or limiting place, or kept us from achieving our goal in the past. Sometimes we identify with events or previous circumstances that reduced the quality of our lives in some way. We may have been “imprinted” with failure in our minds. Sometimes, even the culture around us created by family and friends can prevent us from, or even make us fearful of success. This requires a shift in our mental outlook, and generating the courage to change our attitude. Sometimes we need to “sell” our ideas to the people around us in order to make a change for the better. Once we create a positive culture for ourselves and leave past failures behind we will be in good shape to make real progress.
One of the most important aspects of succeeding in our goals is to provide ourselves the best opportunities possible. In the case of fitness goals, we need to choose the “right” location or gym. In this we need to consider the following:
o What is the quality of the facility like? Any place for athletic activities should provide the proper space and equipment for what they do. An undersized facility can seem “cozy” at first, but can be dysfunctional and even dangerous at times. The place should also have up-to-date flooring, weighs, punching bags, pads, target, etc. that are safe to use.
o How clean is the facility? People don’t generally like or enjoy training in a dirty environment. Not only can an unclean athletic facility be uncomfortable to work in, but it can also be unhealthy. Sharing dirty equipment or mats can lead to illnesses, skin rashes and infections. Getting sick will put you back on the sidelines and sabotage your progress towards your goals.
o What kind of coaching or instruction will you receive? This is one of the most important aspects of progress towards your goals. Quality coaching will keep your technical game on point, help you avoid injuries and keep your enthusiasm up. One downfall of many mainstream gyms is that they tend to focus on new or prospective members. Once you’ve become a regular, they will leave you to fend for yourself. This can kill your enthusiasm for training and make it easy to stop. In martial arts gyms, the instruction is the same for everyone, and more experienced students tend to get more. The quality of instruction can generally vary from excellent to poor. An athlete or martial artist can be talented and accomplished in their field, but a horrible instructor. Teaching or coaching requires a whole different set of skills including: patience, the ability to communicate well, understanding of technique and strategies, knowing how different people learn, and being familiar with common mistakes and risks. Good instructors will also maintain “professional boundaries” with their students or members....leaving their personal feelings and preferences for their personal lives. Selecting high quality instructors and coaches is critical for your success.
o Is the training environment healthy? Well, if a gym is good on all of the other items above...it MUST have a healthy training environment...right?! Wrong. “Training environment” here refers to the vibe of the place. The collective attitude among the people who train there. A gym or dojo can excel with space, equipment, cleanliness and instruction...but fail miserably in the environment that it creates for its members or students. Gyms can be plagued with arrogance, narcissism, rudeness, equipment hogs, letches, bigots, predators, cliques, drama, and even dangerous individuals. A good gym will provide a friendly environment, and promote mutual support and respect for everyone. A great gym will eliminate those who can’t get it for the sake of those who can. The best way to be sure that a gym will have great training environment is to try some classes or training sessions, and get a feel for the vibe there.
Finally, here are some thoughts from Psychologist and ZenQuest enthusiast Jeremy Nicholson. “Goals like resolutions work best when they are clearly stated, challenging, yet attainable, and can be broken down into smaller steps. So, something like losing a pound a week for ten weeks...or attending class twice a week for ten weeks, etc. Second, organize your life in some way that reminds you of your goal. This is called an Implementation Intention. Something like tying your obi around your doorknob at night, so you remember to go to the dojo in the morning. Finally, there is only so much self-control to go around. On stressful days we may slip up a bit. That doesn't mean things are hopeless though. So, be kind to yourself, collect your thoughts, and reaffirm the goal again. Eventually, you'll get there.” Thanks Jeremy.
So, set some goals, stay positive, stick to your resolutions and improve the quality of YOUR life!