12/1/13

Getting ready for the new year


If you are saying to yourself "I can't believe it's already December," you are not the only one who feels like time just rushes by. 

So, perhaps this coming year you can do things a bit differently. Rather than waiting, hoping for the perfect moment or picking the day when everything will feel right, how about treating every day as if it was the first day to work on you. 

To work on your goals, your body, your health, your outlook on life, your relationship with others. Whatever you choose to work on, why wait?

Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the New Year:
1) The first step is always the hardest 
I always learn so much when I ride my bike with Karel. Lately, I have been performing single leg drills, realizing how weak I am on the upstroke of my pedal stroke with my left leg. Well, yesterday Karel really challenged me when we went for our ride. He told me I have to unclip and step-down with my non-dominant leg (which for me, I typically unclip and step-down with my right leg). This terrified me! I felt so unnatural unclipping with my left leg and I was so scared that I was going to fall in the opposite direction (with my right foot clipped in). For me, I have created a habit of using the same leg to unclip ever since I bought my first tri bike w/ clip pedal (7 years ago). This was a very hard habit to break but Karel is always looking for ways for me to be a better skilled rider. You'd think this was something so easy to change but for me, it was scary. 
After a few times of telling Karel there was no way I could do it, I took a risk and did it. And wouldn't you know, now it's no big deal. It took all of 5 minutes to prove to myself that I could at least try this "challenge" and now it's just as easy as the other leg.

We tend to build things up in our mind that they are bigger, harder and more difficult than they really are so we often psych ourselves out before we even try. We all have fears or things that make us uneasy and we can not all relate to each other's obstacles - and that is OK. Don't be afraid to start something. Either find someone who can help you get started and keep you motivated or have someone help you learn how to create the right skills to keep moving forward. 

2) Stay in check with your goals 
Can you remember the goals you set for yourself 3,6 or 12 months ago? How about 2 or 3 years ago? Are you still on track or are you considering a different path to take? Use this time to think about your goals and tweak them as needed so that they are realistic, practical and meaningful. Your goals should be reflective of your lifestyle and how you want to live and every day you should enjoy moving yourself one day closer to your goals. 

3) Choose a daily goal
There's nothing more gratifying than having a to-do list and crossing out each item on the list when it's done and then seeing a completed list at the end of the day. A to-do list is a great way to feel accomplished but it also helps you keep your priorities in check. Sometimes you can't finish everything but you don't want to push back deadlines just because you are spending time on something that isn't a priority for that day. 
The best way to enjoy every day is to feel like you accomplished something for that day. This is easier said than done because often, we have a dozen things on our plate and even when they are completed, we still feel pressure that there's more we need to do.
Have a clear objective of a daily goal that you want to achieve for that day. Is it working out for 30 minutes, working on your skills in the pool, bringing your lunch to work or getting to bed earlier. Direct your energy to that one goals and don't take it for granted when you conquer your daily goal.
Write down your daily goal in a notebook and after a week, see how much you were able to accomplish. Then reflect after a month and see if you created any new habits with your daily goals. 

4) Focus on one thing at a time 
One of the most common results of a person feeling overwhelmed/frustrated with their body composition is making extreme changes in the diet. A list of foods become off-limit and instead of addressing the one or two problem areas, a radical shift is made. Although our society loves to multi-task, the side effect is that we tend to do a few things OK rather than one or two things really really well. Also, at a result, our focus and attention toward the important things gets diluted. 
Whatever goals you have for yourself, you should not feel overloaded with a list of things you have to do, follow or abide by in order to meet your goal. Concentrate on one thing that can help you move closer to your goal. Laying out your clothes the night before a morning workout or making your lunch as you are making dinner the night before are two very easy ways to feel less rushed in the morning. Don't let all day go by and then feel guilty that you didn't work out or eat a lunch from home and then workout fanatically in the evening to try to burn off all the calories you consumed from your fast-food lunch. Set yourself up for a great tomorrow by focusing on one thing at a time that can make you feel great. 
Be sure that you acknowledge accomplishments that you have made so far and what work you still need to do to help you reach your goals. Don't get discourage but instead, feel motivated by how hard you are working to reach your goals (Even when you have a setback - which we all do). 

5) Keep going when the going get tough
What's your reason for the goals you made? There will be tough times ahead and life will not be in your favor so how will you stay focused and motivated during the tough times? Why are you doing this? 
Link what you are doing today (or what you want to accomplish) with where you'd like to be in 30, 60 or 90 days. Keep your timeline short enough that you have check points to keep you honest and humble with your efforts but a long enough vision that you will feel totally awesome when you reach your goal and never gave in to excuses.
Be sure to always focus on the little details. Athletes, for example, often get stuck with garbage yardage and just go through the motions to check it off the list. If you are putting in the time, be sure you are getting something back in return that will move you toward your goals. You must be aware of what you are trying to achieve each day with your actions, whether it's in the diet, exercising, at work or in any part of your life. There will be times when you need to be disciplined to give that little bit of effort even when you are tired, unmotivated and exhausted and there will be other times when you need to step back and reflect on why you aren't making progress (and perhaps, take a short break from the task at hand to re-evaluate your path). 


I hope you find these tips helpful.

Rather than counting down the days until a New Year, enjoy every day as you move yourself closer to your short and long term goals.....your goal timeline is up to you. 

Enjoy the journey, have fun and never have limits on how big you want to dream.