We’re coming up on the first week of the New Year, a common kick-off time for all sorts of projects. Maybe you want to lose weight, get a promotion or switch careers. Even when people share the same goal, different strategies will work for each person. Losing weight requires shedding 3,500 calories per pound. That equation doesn’t change. But the process for someone losing those last stubborn pounds versus someone just starting out is very different. Therefore, whatever your goal, start from where you are.
If you are new to this goal, spend your first month just practicing discipline – maintaining a routine, keeping appointments. For example, if your first month is about getting to the gym two times a week, don’t worry about what to do there. Just get to the gym two times a week faithfully. Go, even if it’s too late for the class you want and you end up standing in the lobby reading the fitness bulletin the whole time. Go, even if you end up coming right back. You are practicing the routine of getting there. Once that’s down, you can worry about what you do there.
If you are already good about sticking to a plan, make sure you have plans to stick to. It takes approximately 21 days to make a habit. What is your action step each 21-30 days? If month one is getting to the gym, is month two adding a nutrition piece to the exercise routine? Is month three adding additional exercise? What about months four, five, six, etc? You may have to adjust the plan if certain steps take longer or shorter than expected, but you should have some outline to follow.
If you are in the final stretch, your focus is to keep the momentum and avoid plateaus. If you have been working on a goal for a while, you might be on auto-pilot and not pushing yourself to the next level. Hire a trainer for one or two sessions to draft a new routine. Try a different area within the goal – e.g., meditation, stretching, a team sport. Perhaps you need to switch your goal for a few months. Of course, maintain what good exercise and nutrition habits you have this far, but focus the next few months on a finance or career goal. Do what you need to do to keep it fresh.