Riding the Waves – Ending Yo-Yo Goals and Results to Achieve Consistent Success

With summer nearly upon us, the gyms are a bit busier, people are a bit more motivated to reach their goals to show off that “summer bod”.  For many, these goals won’t quite be exactly reached and for some that do reach their goals, they start to slip away as summer parties, barbeques, and events fill their calendars.   Much like the New Year’s Resolution rush, the approaching summer has become the second wave of motivation and lofty goals.  However, this phase usually ends the way most New Year’s plans end.  Why? Why do we start with such great goals, energy, and determination only to let it all go within a matter of weeks? 

I am willing to go out on a limb here, and propose that motivation is intrinsic.  It comes from within.  Often it is not motivation that is lacking, but rather there are other forces at work that keep people from fulfilling their goals.  Knowledge, confidence, and accountability are perhaps the big three when it comes to the real stumbling blocks that keep people from taking action to reach new accomplishments.

When working with people at various stages of their fitness journeys, I have found I cannot truly motivate them into action.  I can however, stir something that is already inside of them and turn their intrinsic motivation, that they often didn’t know they had, into concrete, practical, and repeatable actions.  That call to action, is more of a form of inspiration, than motivation.  The motivation was there.  It was just clogged and lost behind a few roadblocks. 

Perhaps you have heard people state a goal and then quickly negate it. For example, “I want to lose 10 pounds, but I just don’t have the motivation to get back in the gym.”  Wait! What??  The motivation is in that first half of the sentence – they want to lose weight! That is a goal.  Their motivation may come from something else such as fitting in a favorite pair of jeans, or seeing their abs.  The focus is that they already have the desire, the drive to want to change and improve.  The motivation is there.  The question now becomes how to bring it out and turn that into action. 

Let’s take a look at a few practices that often lead us to not accomplishing our goals or not being able to consistently progress and move forward. 

1. Setting the Wrong Goals

In today’s social media driven world, we tend to see, follow and chase unrealistic expectations.  Plus, with the power of the internet there is a continuous information overload when it comes to any topic, particularly health, fitness, and nutrition. People tend to set goals based on what they see others doing or what others have already achieved. It may or may not apply to their own needs and abilities.  For example, people have come to me wanting to eat exactly what I eat for a nutritional program, or people will follow a certain nutrition plan based on someone they follow online does.  I always stop and ask them why?  When I see people follow a restrictive nutritional plan that they saw some fitness competitor doing, simply because they want to also lose weight, I have to ask why? The overall goal may be similar, but it is not exact and the person they are following hopefully has specific reasons for doing what they do as it applies to them.  Just because someone is losing weight eating gluten free foods, does not mean someone else wanting to lose weight should do the same if they do not have any real gluten allergies or sensitivities.  Unfortunately, it is easy in today’s society to get caught up in the latest fads, craze and also misinformation. 

It is important to set goals that are specific to you.  If you don’t like fish and asparagus, do not eat fish and asparagus just because someone else swears by it. This means knowing what you are already doing, what you have done and what will work for you where you are at right now.

2. Unrealistic Expectations.

  This is perhaps the biggest mistake people make.  They know what they want.  They see everyone else setting similar goals and so they jump on the bandwagon.  Take the craze of New Year’s Resolutions as an example.  The majority of those goals revolve around losing weight and getting in shape.  Both are great goals and both can be achieved by anyone.  However, when you have never run a marathon, simply a light jog around the block is a great challenge.  The expectation, and part of the draw of mass hysteria during these times is we can do accomplish this goal within a few weeks.  Just look at all the fitness center, weight loss programs, and nutritional supplement ads that come out around the holidays, or even now as we head to summer.  These companies feed on the misconception that reaching these goals is easy and are only looking for your money, not your results.

In keeping with our marathon example, within a few weeks, you may only be doing 2 laps around the block or maybe that same one lap with less stress. This is not a full marathon and people quickly get discouraged and return to their old habits because they did not recognize and accept that their progress was real progress.

Expecting immediate results or overnight success will almost always lead to disappointment, loss of focus and excuses as to why it is better to stop now than to keep working.  Not to mention the damaging mental and emotional rollercoaster this can lead to, which only further exacerbates the problem.

Strategies for Consistent Success

Now let’s look at 5 Building Blocks to help remove those walls and challenges that stand in the way of bringing out our motivated selves and chasing our smallest or largest goals.

1. Anything new is hard.  

Let’s get this one out of the way right now. We all begin from the beginning. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what the task is we all start at the same point. Now, we are not all at the same point, at the same time, but we all did start from the same place, in that we were all beginners.  

This is perhaps the greatest wall that holds us back.  If we have never done an exercise before, or been in a gym, or paid attention to how we ate, the mere thought of suddenly going from nothing to completely in, can be an obstacle in itself.  To overcome this, it is important to give yourself permission to learn.  Even if it is something as simplistic as trying a new exercise, allow yourself to learn the technique and gain the knowledge about it before you ever pick up a weight to do it.  Then, once you begin, use a light weight and take some time (sometimes weeks) getting to know the form and feel of the movement. Be sure it is hitting the right area of the muscles.  Notice how your muscles feel at each position of the movement.  Little by little, as you gain an understanding of proper form, your muscles adapt, you feel more confident, and the weight you started with will become your warm up set now.
Bottom line: Give yourself permission to be a beginner and learn over time.

2. Start where you are with what you have and do what you can do now.

This is one of my most favorite sayings and it applies to anything you must do or want to do in life.  

Start where you are: Much like being a beginner, we must start somewhere.  In the example of someone wanting to lose weight, they cannot expect to wake up one day and suddenly eat a completely different menu of foods, know how to gauge their intakes of nutrients, and simply watch the weight melt off.  That is not practical or recommended. However, an attainable goal might be to add a certain amount of fruits and veggies to their meals today.  Or to clean up one meal that so that it is healthier today.  Perhaps they start exercising and will walk two times around the block today.  Their goal might be 20 times around the block, but they need to build up to that point. So they are not able to do 20 laps around the block today, but they can do 2.
Bottom Line: You may not be there yet, but you are now on your way and a lot further along than before you started.

Use what you have:  You are on vacation and can’t get to a gym for a workout.  Does it mean the day is wasted and your goals are ruined? No.  Look for an alternative to meet your goals using what you have.  Maybe you get an outdoor workout in and you create it on the fly. Perhaps you do bodyweight exercises for a few rounds.  

Bottom Line: You find a way to do what you can with what you have.  

Do what you can:  We all lead busy lives.  Many times we can control our busy schedules, but there are times that other circumstances influence our daily plans in unexpected ways.  This is life.  All is not lost if you missed a workout, are extra tired one day,  go out for dinner and enjoy a meal and desserts, or are not where you want to be at a certain moment. The day and time is not lost.  As I often say in my social media posts “Rise and Conquer!” 

Bottom Line:  You can do something to take a step forward towards your goals today.

3. Small consistent efforts

There are no magic formulas or short cuts to reach your goals that will give you lasting and continuous results.  Success in anything is not achieved in any one single effort, but in the thousands upon thousands of tiny efforts that were made consistently over and over again through time. Understand success is not linear.  There will be setbacks and challenges.  Life will present unexpected events and situations that will overwhelm you and knock you down a bit.  Accept this. Know that you will get back up. You will get back on track and you will move forward beyond where you are now.
Bottom Line: A mountain is moved one rock at a time.

4. Acknowledge and celebrate the victories.

Often we are so focused on the larger goals that we fail to see all that we conquered and done well along the way.  It is not always about the destination, but it is most definitely about the journey.  Every positive step forward is an accomplishment.  Deciding to walk those 2 laps around the block should be a huge victory.  The goal is still 20, but those 2 laps count and they are something to be proud of.  Acknowledge it.  One perk of doing so is that results breed greater momentum.  Knowing you have done something you didn’t think you could, can be a great springboard to attempt to go further.  Also, in terms of health, as one sees little changes – their clothes fit differently, they are not breathing heavy after a flight of stairs, they did one more rep, one more minute, one more “Something” than they did before or thought they could, that is a success and will lead to a renewed energy to keep going.

Bottom Line:  Allow yourself to feel pride and satisfaction in a job well done.  

5. Hold yourself accountable – or find someone who can.

You hold tremendous power to accomplish what you want.  However, one key is to keep yourself accountable.  There are a number of ways in which to do this.  One I like to use is at the beginning of each week, my training partner and I schedule our workouts for the week. I don’t break those appointments with myself.  I don’t excuse myself when I “don’t feel like it” or am “not in the mood.”  You know what you need to do.  You know what your goals are. Do it and reach goals. Or don’t but be prepared for the consequences.  It is not just that you told yourself you would workout and then you didn’t.  It goes beyond that.  If you had a friend who continually backed out on plans or on their word, how long would you continue to put your trust and belief in that person?  The same thing goes when that person is you and you are breaking commitments to yourself. If you need help sticking to your commitments find an accountability partner. 
Bottom Line:  Accountability is key. Don’t break promises to yourself. Value your own goals and commitments.

With these 5 strategies, you will find the motivation to do more, be more, change and improve are already within you.  These actions will remove the fences and walls that keep that motivation from coming to the forefront and becoming positive forward actions.  Start today.  I guarantee you will be much further ahead one month from now!