I‘m not usually very big on new year‘s resolutions per se. Reason being they conjure up images of fad diets and failed exercise. With the beginning of each new year, many of us decide we are going to improve some aspect of our lives or break some bad habit. These are good goals, but unfortunately these goals tend to crumble shortly after they are conceived. The reason is that they aren't conceived properly. We all know that over the next couple months there will be a surge of enrollments at local gyms. Each person has made the commitment to get into shape because this is going to be the year. So, they sign contracts with the gyms for 1 to 3 years up front. But did you know that, on average, these same people stop going to the gyms after 6 weeks? This happens year in and year out. Even the more committed gym rats only go to the gyms here and there for a while. In either case, if you fast forward to the end of the year, most of the resolutioners are no further along than they were at the very beginning of the year. Sad but true.
I believe all of us can greatly improve our chances of achieving our goals if we follow the athlete‘s model for event preparation. Whenever an athlete decides to compete in an event that is perhaps months away, his trainer designs a comprehensive plan of what must happen in order to achieve that goal. The trainer and the athlete decide upon exactly (with details) what the condition of the athlete should be by a given date. The trainer installs several check points which tell the trainer and the athlete if they are on target to meet the goals. And they continually adjust the intermediate goals in order to stay on target for the larger goals.
This type of goal setting may seem foreign and complicated to you right now, but it is a well established model that has been followed for many, many years with great success. And you too can follow this model. Keep in mind that every world class athlete must be in tip top condition both physically and mentally at the time of competition. And we are talking about competitions where the difference between first and second place can be a matter of inches or thousandths of a second! Also note that no athlete can be in tip top condition all of the time. This is why every trainer must use what is called ‘periodization‘ in order to make sure the athlete peaks at the right time. If the athlete peaks too soon or too late (even a matter of days), then it could mean disaster. So, it is no accident that a sprinter can set the 100 meter dash world record at a track and field event when she probably would not have physically been able to do it just weeks earlier. Or, when you see a welter weight boxer at the peak of condition weighing exactly 147 lbs when the weight limit is 147 lbs (understand that this same boxer would likely have weighed on average 170 lbs just a few months earlier. This means that he and his trainer knew ahead of time exactly how much weight, to the pound, they would have to lose and by when -- while still maintaining world class athleticism. Talk about precision!)
For any goal that we are going to make, we must visualize how things will be once that goal is met. Once you can see the end result, then you work backwards from there and determine what you must do to achieve that goal. You must set several mini-goals (called meso-goals) and micro-goals. Most importantly, you must write these goals down. If you don‘t write them down, they can fade away. And every day, you must read these goals aloud and tell yourself what you are going to do to achieve them. As you achieve each micro- or meso-goal, you strike it off of your list or mark it completed.
So, for any long term goal that you are serious about you will write it down. This is your macro-goal. Decide upon when you will have completed it. Then, you decide what meso-goals you will need to accomplish in order to meet the macro goal. Your meso-goals can take weeks or months, depending upon how long your macro-goal is. Then, for each meso-goal, you decide upon a series of micro-goals that need to be met. Your micro-goals can be days or weeks long. You then install check points to measure your progress. If you are off at any time, you simply adjust. Just like an archer aiming for that bull‘s eye. Sometimes you have to aim higher or lower or to the right a bit more. But you keep adjusting until you hit it. This is the method by which I train all of my clients.
At this point you have a goal and a model by which to achieve that goal. You haven‘t simply said, ‘I am going to lose weight this year.‘ If you do that, you are probably going to fail. Every serious endeavor requires total commitment. This means breaking the goal down and planning to succeed. My father used to say that you must always have your 5 Ps together. They are:
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
If you remember the 5 Ps and put them into practice, then you are well on your way. Good luck to you!
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, "The Body Mechanic"