Decide. Make a decision – that is the “ D” in DAO. A decision to commit – or recommit – to change, to transformation, and to a new way of life. Even if that’s after a New Year’s resolution that has gone up in smoke. We start our day with making decisions, and by the end of it we have made thousands. It’s those little decisions and habits throughout the day that will make or break your fitness goals in the long term.
“We are our choices.”J.P. Sartre
What’s the skinny?
- Make a decision to commit to fitness, beyond an aspiration. Even if it’s a decision to recommit to what you did in January.
- Be SMART – set specific, measurable, achievable goals.
- Know your why, and what you are chasing. Have a vision. Write it down.
- It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
There is a basic crossroads here – you either accept where you are at, or don’t. If you do accept where you are at, then you can keep things exactly the way they are. If you don’t accept where you are at, then decide to do something about it. A decision to commit to change, to transformation, and to a new way of life.
Decide to commit, or recommit
Did you know that 80 percent of New Year’s fitness goals are abandoned by February?
That’s not because we are not motivated. It is because we are setting vague, aspirational goals (“I resolve to get back in shape!”)
Decision does not equate with aspiration
Decision does not equate with “aspiration”. Aspirations are vague, often unrealistic goals (“I am going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks!” “I am going to eat clean!” ) Decision reaches to changing your habits NOW, from the moment you wake up. By the time you have your first work meeting, you have already made dozens of decisions, consciously or subconsciously. That is why this decision, the decision to commit to change, is the most important one that you will ever make.
In my profession, acronyms are king, so I will have to throw one out there. SMART is an acronym for sensible, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound goals.
It’s not your fault that a decision to get in shape in January petered off by now. It’s the wrong framework, or lack thereof. It’s the fact that the goal was too abstract – it wasn’t measurable and had an open-ended time factor.
The same problem lies with goals like “I am going to lose 5 pounds in a week,” or “I’m only going to eat clean.” These goals, while technically measurable, are not realistic or achievable. And going on a crash diet to lose five pounds may work temporarily, but it is not a sustainable solution. Neither is eschewing all “non-clean” foods.
The DAO of being a fit professional will help you set SMART goals. This goes back to what we talked about earlier – igniting the why. You have to understand the why to get to the what, how, and when.
You have to see it to achieve it
If you look at how to succeed in business, the “why” is critical. The podcast show that I was on is called Meet Mediocrity, and it’s run by a partner at my company as HIS side gig. I hadn’t worked with him extensively, but I knew he helped our teams win the largest pursuits for multimillion dollar projects. In the podcast, he brought up the fact that one of his coaching techniques is to constantly ask the team “why?”. It gets on people’s nerves but it works. And that’s why he’s so successful at his job.
When I was developing the vision for the blog and the book, my husband, who runs a tech company, was helping me in his role as publisher. When we first sat down to work together, he took out a deck of index cards. He asked me to write down why I wanted to do the book/blog on an index card. And write it again. And again. And again. I wanted to kill him but I kept doing it until I realized this is what I needed to do to get a purpose that would ground me and keep me going. And then I mapped out my milestones – what I could achieve by January 2021 (launching the blog), by March 2021 (50 posts) and by summer 2021 (publishing my first book).
The same can be applicable to a weight loss goal, for example. Why do you want to lose weight? And it doesn’t have to be complicated. The reason can be related to my purpose for the book – to lead a healthier and happier life. Of course, looking good is a good reason – but it’s really about feeling good about the way you look. And that directly correlates to your mental well-being. Once you get to the root of your vision, then you have to plot out the milestones.
Here is where I suggest you start: Get a journal and use that ONLY for your fitness goals. Any blank notebook is fine, but if you want something structured, I would suggest the 100-day goal journal. This journal walks you through your overall goal, then defines the micro goals you need to accomplish every day. If you want a more fitness-focused journal, I would recommend Fitbook. This one has a 12-week goal plan, a daily and weekly workout schedule and meal plan.
Putting your goals on paper will help you internalize them, and keep it separate from your normal “to-do” list. You also will have a tangible way to note your success. You should also put your journal somewhere where you will always see it, like your nightstand or kitchen table. Set a specific time every evening to review your progress for the day, not by the clock, but by a prompt in your normal routine, like right after you brush your teeth.
To read more about how you can change small habits to achieve long-term goals, I recommend the book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, by Dr. BJ Fogg. It gives a great framework to how “micro actions” and “tiny habits” can have a cumulative effect of changing your life. It’s great to listen to on Audible or during a workout.
Now you try it. Get some index cards or post-its, or whatever writing tools you have, and keep writing down over and over why you want to pursue the next level of your fitness. Then when you finally get to the version that you want, stick it in a prominent spot like your mirror or car dashboard, where you will see it everyday.This is your manifesto. It’s the decision that will change your entire life.
Ignite your why
A critical part of the decision is knowing your why (if you haven’t yet, read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why – or listen to his Ted Talk. Think about approaching fitness the same way you approached your career. Why did you want to be a doctor or a nurse? Or a lawyer? Or a marketing director? The answer cannot be “to make a lot of money” or to “be successful.” That is the RESULT. What was the why? A passion for advocacy, for saving lives, for having a creative outlet and making a visible impact on society.
In your career, that “why” kept you in the library on those late nights, took out those student loans, or moved you to an unfamiliar city. Some people are even willing to take a pay cut or start at the bottom all over again to pursue their passions. It’s the “why” that keeps you going. It’s the why that makes the difference.
The “why” is what gets you through the sacrifices you need to make – and keeps you going day after day. The pandemic brought an explosion in the interest in fitness. People wanted to seize control in a world where they felt trapped and like they had no control. That can be a purpose, but you also want to dig deeper and find something that will make fitness more sustainable.
What do you really want out of this? What are YOU chasing?
Getting back to you. If you are stuck on the why, get a piece of paper out and write down how you would feel if you had exactly the body that you wanted. First, decide what this means for you. It definitely does not mean the same thing for everybody. Is this about aesthetics – wanting to look your best? Lose weight? Do you want to feel better on the inside – more healthy, energized, less depressed?
Look at pictures, if that’s helpful, or just visualize it in your mind. This may be a vision of yourself when you remember feeling confident and beautiful. .Then write down how you would feel if you had what you wanted out of your path to fitness: confident, energetic, attractive, glamorous, graceful.
Is this a rebound from a setback?
So a lot of us turn to fitness because we are rebounding form a bad break. It makes sense, right? “Revenge body.” It is conventionally associated with a breakup, but there are so many other things that could catalyze a decision. A career disappointment, a personal loss, a failure. In fact, my decision to finally start this blog stemmed from a bad break But you know what? Sometimes that’s just what you need. It’s the dumpster fires in life that give you the smoke you need to rise.
Once you understand the why, make a decision to throw all your old beliefs and habits out the window and start a new way of life. Make a decision to commit. Make a decision to endure.
I will leave you with one more thought that has gotten me through every tough road I have been down – and I have been down many. Nothing worth having is easy. But after all is said and done, it will be worth it.