In my last post, I talked about being lazy and how we often blame laziness when, in fact, a goal was just not a priority. How do we make it a priority? It’s easy to say that someone has “raw determination” or “mental toughness.” These slogans are great in locker rooms for coaches or scouts to use to encourage their players, but for the rest of us it’s not always as simple. While it’s true that some people are born with these traits—and without a doubt it takes hard work to achieve any goal—it also takes the ability to eliminate distractions and roadblocks in order to dedicate time to achieving it. People who are headstrong commonly have that ability. I call it “trimming the fat.”
Trimming the fat means getting rid of the things that are not beneficial. The “fat” can be anything— eating out, spending time on social media, and, especially, negative people. In this case, we want to eliminate the distractions and hurdles that make us “lazy” about achieving certain goals. I prefer a four-step approach.
Four Steps to Trimming the Fat
1) Set a date. Start by making a list of the goals that you want to achieve, and then set a date for when you want each one accomplished. The goal can be anything; for example, saving a certain amount of money or losing weight. Having a specific date helps you stay focused and maintain that mental toughness. It also applies a little pressure and creates a sense of urgency. The goal is always at the forefront of your mind. When people make a goal without a timeframe, more times than not they don’t even come close to what they set out to do, in my experience.
2) Make a plan. Once you have goal and a date, you’ll need template to follow or a checklist of smaller goals to accomplish on the way to getting what you want. Your plan does not have to be set in stone. Life throws unexpected detours at you, and you need to be able to adapt, but you don’t stop moving forward completely. The detour can be anything—a new job, a family emergency, or even moving to another state. The point is that your original plan may have to change in order for you to keep going and achieve your goal. Having a plan creates milestones, which are a great tool for positive reinforcement. If your goal has a 10-step checklist and five items are crossed off, that can be extremely reassuring and motivating. From there it’s easy to tell yourself, “Almost there! Just a little more to go!” and that in turn helps you stay focused and determined.
3) Eliminate excuses. To me this is the most important step. An excuse is anything that is in your way and will hinder you from achieving your goal. Once you identify an excuse, find a way to work around it. For instance, a young woman I used to see at the gym always seemed to have a different outfit on. As she was often at the gym, that was a lot of outfits. I finally asked her about it. She said that in the past, she had never wanted to go to the gym because she didn’t have good gym clothes that she liked to wear. To solve the problem, she went shopping and bought clothes that she would enjoy wearing while working out and feel comfortable in. Some may call it vanity or being superficial, but she was at the gym five or six days a week, working on getting in shape. She identified a problem, found a solution, followed through, and removed the obstacle. It helped her stay focused and eliminated the excuse that was stopping her from going to the gym. When you’re targeting obstacles, make a two-column list. In the first column, list the obstacles, and in the second list a solution for how to eliminate each obstacle. It is easier to conquer your obstacles when you see them in black and white.
4) Consult an expert. It’s impossible to know everything about everything, but you can surround yourself with people who know more than you do and learn from their experience. If your goal is to lose 15 pounds, consider hiring an experienced trainer. You wouldn’t go up a mountain you have never climbed before without a map—or a guide—and a trainer can be a lifesaver, keeping you from getting lost in the mountains of information and misinformation available on losing weight and getting in shape. That can provide a sense of security because you have an expert source, someone who has traveled the path before. The sense that you are not alone and have people around who can provide knowledge, experience and positive encouragement can help you stay focused to reach your goal.
1) Set a date.
2) Have a plan.
3) Eliminate excuses.
4) Get an expert.
Try my four-step plan when you get lazy about your goals, and don’t forget to trim the fat! And if you need more motivation, visit the Digital Muscle TV channel!