Believe It!

Often times, the only difference between success and failure is having the belief that you can succeed.

When you don’t believe it, you encounter things that you cannot do and reasons to give up. But when you have faith in yourself and your capabilities, you come across stumbling blocks and obstacles that can slow you down but will not stop you.

A friend reminded me of that yesterday; and it holds true for all goals in life, whether they be fitness-related or not.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

It is true for any goal, but especially a health or fitness goal: Make sure you pick the low-hanging fruit.

In other words, make sure that you target and accomplish the simple tasks that are immediately in front of you. A lot of people give up on big dreams because of their complexity. Yet if you take care of the parts that are within reach right now, the harder steps might just feel easier when you have momentum.

Get After It

You will spend months, if not years, working on the things you truly aspire to.

There is a time for preparation, when you plan and then methodically take the steps that get you closer; and then there is the time for action. But how do you know when?

It is easy to figure out when there is a deadline; a race day, a final day for entry submission, or even an accepted norm such as retirement at 65. Yet when there is no deadline, you can waffle on a launch date. There will always be another process that can be refined, another detail to attend to.

So for every goal that is important to you, take an honest look at where you are and get yourself an estimate for when you can move on it. Give yourself a deadline and go for it. It can be pushed back if life gets in the way. Someday might never come, but tomorrow is almost here. The only way to get after the future is to relate it to the present.

Watch Your Language

The words we use matter, in our thoughts as well as in our conversations with others. Because the mind is capable of processing at speeds much faster than our rate of speech, even our rate of internal dialogue; each word has connotations that can trigger reactions. These reactions often happen on a subconscious level, and have an impact on our mood and outlook.

Every language gives us a number of options to convey thoughts, and some are better than others. While we use many words interchangeably, our reaction to the words may be very different. A few examples: I want to vs. I have to, I can’t vs. I won’t, That looks difficult vs. That’s impossible

Though we have command of our choice of words, controlling the emotional reaction once we use those words is much harder. So when it comes to achieving the goals that you aspire to, the difference between success and failure may just be watching your language.

The Next Step

Many of us have big dreams about what we would like to do or what we would like to be.

Yet many of us do not take action. We get caught up entertaining ourselves, spending time instead of investing it. We frame our dreams in the distant future; some day often becomes never. Do not let that happen!

Whatever your dream, take the next step. Take it today. And then take another tomorrow, or next week. Find an hour here or there; you do not have to make a huge leap to go forward. Even the smallest of steps will build momentum.

Don’t Beat A Dead Horse

The desire to help people who are struggling with something is common, especially when they are people you care about. But there is a difference between giving someone support, and alienating them with their own struggles.

Telling someone over and over again that they are making mistakes or doing things incorrectly will not help them, or your relationship. Once they have been made aware that they are not making the best decision, you have to let them make that decision for themselves. And if they continue along that less optimal path, that is their choice. Value and respect it, and be ready with advice when they ask for it again. In the long run, that can be the difference between them giving up or finding their way to achieve.

How About Now?

There are times when inspiration strikes. The motivation is there, but we wait anyway. Something stops us.

Maybe the conditions are not perfect, or you have an agreement with a friend, or some other reason why next week would be better.

But one lesson I have learned is that life will get in the way, if you let it. If the motivation is there, you should start right now. The sooner you start on a goal, the sooner the practice becomes a habit that will get easier with regularity. There is no time like the present.

The Help Thresholds

Motivation is not something that we can switch on and off at will. It is a culmination of events that allows someone to arrive at the conclusion that the outcome will be worth the effort. This is a special moment, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

Most people want to do it themselves. Just about everyone recognizes that there is simply too much information, too many areas of research, and too many scientific disciplines to know everything; but that does not stop a person from wanting to go it alone. It is their body, after all. Unfortunately, it may take failure at that point before someone would be willing to ask for advice in the future. We can only help people when they are ready to be helped.

That is the first help threshold; the point when people not only want to enact personal change, but are also ready to listen to instruction (hopefully from a trained professional – just about everyone has an opinion on what people should do, but that opinion is not necessarily based on science or education).

There is a second threshold that is very important. That is the maximum level of help or advice that someone can take at a particular time. The human body changes gradually. The same can be said for personal habits and practices. If that threshold is surpassed, if a person feels that they are being asked to do the impossible – all relative to their subjective experience – then they will lose their motivation and give up. Keeping in mind that most people receive advice from a number of sources, this can be very detrimental (especially when two sources give contradicting advice).

So when we try to help others, we must remember to give advice in small doses. While people want an overall feel for what they are trying to accomplish, they will not necessarily be ready to hear everything at once. Giving the most important point and the very next step is often more than enough to help move someone forward without overloading them.

Make The Best Of It

It should come as no surprise when I say that life is not perfect.

We get busy, have deadlines, get sick or injured. We don’t always sleep well. The weather is not always nice (in most places). The list goes on and on.

Know that consistent practice begets improvement. So whenever we are trying to get better at anything, we have to keep at it; even when the conditions are far from ideal. The trick, if you can call it that, is to make the best of whatever the conditions are. It is all in the mindset. Do what you can and remember that the more conditions vary, the more the body is forced to adapt. For any well-selected goal, this adaptation means improvement.

Up To The Challenge

Are you challenging yourself?..

Overcoming a challenge is not only rewarding in the sense of accomplishment that you feel upon its completion, but also in the confidence it gives you going forward. Experience is the best teacher, and if you do not push yourself you will never know what you are truly capable of. Challenges can also ground you, because you will not always succeed. Most importantly, remember to try again.

Do you challenge others?..

Pushing yourself to accomplish your goals is a noble pursuit. Helping others to achieve their potential goes beyond that. It can be as simple as setting an example that others can follow, other times it is more. The hard part is only giving them that which they need to keep moving themselves forward, without adding in any unnecessary advice (especially when the help is unsolicited). But when you do it right, you make the people around you better.