You’re back at the busy gym, with seemingly everyone else at University, and even though you had to wait for each machine you’re pleased you went – you’re going to kick 2017’s butt!
A few days later you wake up and debate staying in bed. You snooze for 10, 15, 30 minutes and then decide it’s too late to go to the gym. You feel sluggish all day.
A couple of weeks later you get on the scales, you haven’t lost the weight you’d been hoping for. You failed. “That’s it, this is hopeless, I’m giving up,” you think. January 20th and you’ve given up on your new year’s resolution to fit into that little black dress. You feel rubbish about yourself and slip into worse habits: eating more, drinking more and exercising even less.
Does this sound familiar?
Every year, millions of people believe in the possibility of the new year and new beginnings; the opportunity to change their life and achieve the goals they’ve been thinking about since last year. Why are we so unlikely to succeed in achieving our goals?
Personal development author Hal Elrod says we suffer from “rear-view mirror syndrome” in that we are always looking back at our past and this information limits what we believe we can achieve. So if you failed that diet last year, you’re likely to keep looking back on that failure and subconsciously believe you will fail again this year.
HOW YOU RESPOND TO THAT MISTAKE IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHETHER OR NOT YOU WILL SUCCEED
We’ve all heard of ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals but we rarely set them for ourselves. Setting yourself up with a huge task such as “no carbs before Marbs” seems daunting and overwhelming. Maybe it seems like the only way you can improve yourself is through a huge change (while actually just being consistent with work outs and a healthy diet would be more successful). Or maybe on January 2nd you had one potato and now feel like you’ve failed and there’s no point in even trying. This is where perfectionism plays a role in our failure. By thinking that one mistake makes you a failure you are going to feel bad about yourself. But news flash: everyone makes mistakes. How you respond to that mistake is the difference between whether or not you will succeed.
Khloe Kardashian, in her best seller Strong Looks Better Naked says “Perfection is unattainable. Our brains are wired to want more and to never be satisfied”. If we re-think one mistake and recognise it as one mistake and then try to do better, the only way forward is success. Focus on the fact you felt guilty when you missed that work out so you will feel better if you do get out of bed and go.
We should stop making ‘goals’ and start focusing on making ‘systems’, or so argues Scott Adams, author of ‘How to fail at almost everything and still win big’. Adams suggests that by focusing on a repeatable specific habit that you implement in your life that will help you achieve your goal, you are more likely to succeed than focusing on the goal itself. By focusing on a goal you are telling yourself you aren’t good enough yet, that you need to achieve that goal to be happy. On the other hand, by focusing on systems – the thing that you will do repeatedly to achieve that goal, you achieve success every time you do it. The idea of ‘Zero days’ tells us to aim to do something towards that goal, no matter how small, every day. So if your goal is to exercise more or lose weight, doing a minute of star jumps on the day when you’ve slept in, or going for a quick run around the block is better than doing nothing – it fills you with a sense of accomplishment and is more likely to contribute towards achieving that goal.
Focus on the fact you felt guilty when you missed that work out so you will feel better if you do get out of bed and go
Some final tips for success:
- Celebrate the mini-successes, when the too-snug jeans from before Christmas start to fit better or someone compliments the way that new dress looks on you.
- Think more glass half-full – “I’ve come such a long way, I’ve been to the gym three times this week and I feel great”.
- Be self-compassionate, look in the mirror and tell yourself three things you love – don’t punish yourself for those mistakes.
- Remember that this is a journey and miracles don’t happen overnight.
- You don’t need to be perfect to be happy.