Finding it difficult to regain that momentum you had prior to the holiday? Our wellness columnist explains the seven simple tips you need to get back on track.
Who isn’t busy these days? We’re in a perpetual state of running to appointments, dealing with life stressors, work demands, family obligations and doing things for others. Many of us are so busy that we neglect to check on ourselves first and maintain our health. I get it; we’re all juggling with something that shifts our focus away from where we need it most.
However, maintaining everything can get tricky and time can slip away. I believe all of us are goal-oriented individuals. If we don’t have incentive and give attention toward reaching our goals, what started out as great intentions for the start of summer have now become afterthoughts.
Time management skills is one of the best tools for setting yourself up for success. Here I share my top tips to remain focused or regain focus of your health and fitness goals.
1. Have A Goal
While this obvious and rather common knowledge, how many of you have actually created one with measurable parameters?
If you don’t know where you are going, how will you ever get there or know what to do? Sound familiar? For guidance on how to establish a goal, refer back to “It’s Time—Create a Plan!”
It can be easy to lose track of time and direction if you don’t have an end goal in mind. This is why it’s important to be very clear on what exactly your goals are. Whether you want to lose weight, increase lean muscle mass, improve your eating habits, manage your stress or change careers, determining what your goals are is an important first step towards managing your time and being successful.
I recommend writing your goals down and placing them somewhere where you can see them every day. This will serve as a reminder when life gets hectic—it’s inevitable—and will help you stick to your goals when it may seem easier to skip them.
2. Create A Timeline
Once you have determined your goals, give it a timeline. I advise starting from the finish point and work backwards. For example, let’s say your goal is to run a particular distance, figure out how much time you will need to prepare first.
The same concept can be applied for other goals such as weight-loss, gaining mass or even getting more sleep. Start at the end and figure out how much time you will need to reach your goal.
3. Figure Out What You Need to Do
I realize this seems to elaborate further on tip 1, but bear with me. Intention doesn’t mean action. Anyone can have the greatest intentions or plan, but without action steps nothing will occur.
Once you know where you are going and how much time you will need, it is now time to write down exactly what you will need to do. If the goal is to lose weight, for example, you will likely engage in exercise, be more mindful of your eating habits, drink more water, get adequate sleep and be consistent with each.
Now break down the main, long-term goal into small, manageable, short-term goals. Ask yourself: What will you do for exercise? How many days a week? How long each day? How many days will be devoted to resistance, cardio and flexibility? Be very specific with the actions, and write them down.
As for improving your eating habits, it requires you to be attentive to thoughts and choices. Perhaps that means making a grocery shopping list and planning your meals ahead of time. Based on your day-to-day structure and context, does that mean planning ahead for the week or only a couple of days? Sometimes planning that far ahead may even be a stretch, so what is the course of action you will take to remain in control and mindful? That’s where maintaining a daily logger is helpful in order to provide objective data of where you stand.
Say you are dining out, what is your plan? How will you handle this situation without throwing your hands in the air? Prepare ahead of time, set up some strategies; again write down the steps to help you achieve the outcome you desire. The clearer, more detailed you get, the better you will be in managing your time and reaching your goals.
4. Schedule Your Workouts/Plan Your Grocery Trips
This is rather simple, relatively speaking. In order to stay faithful to your workouts, trips to the grocery store, or other healthy “to-dos” in your calendar, write it down. Just as you would for work meetings or medical appointments, make it a point to block time for the activity on your calendar. You’re more likely to stay on track when it’s scheduled.
5. Prepare Your Food In Advance
This was briefly shared in tip 2, but now that you have gone to the store, make an effort to prepare your meals. Fail to plan, prepare to fail. We hear it all the time, but do we actually do it?
Daily preparation can be exhausting and impractical for many, so choose a day during the week best for you and prepare a few days’ worth of meals. Using a nutrition journal as a tool will allow you to stay on track and still meet your daily nutrition numbers. It’s just a matter of choosing your favorite meals and making them fit within context.
If you don’t spend a lot of time cooking at home, but rather dine out frequently, devote some time reviewing restaurant menus beforehand to determine what fit best for you based on daily goals and context of the meal.
6. Take Advantage of Personal Time
When the kids are down for a nap or you have an extra few minutes, take advantage of this time. What tasks have you been putting off for yourself? What do YOU need at this moment? Ask yourself that.
Use this time to focus on yourself. If you are at work, take a walk. If the kids are asleep, get in a home workout. If you have 10 minutes to spare, relax and do something you love. Don’t neglect yourself in the process, enjoy it!
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like you just “don’t have the time,” the reality is we can create the time if we make our goals a priority.
7. Check In Daily
Zig Ziglar asserted, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Once a day, take the time to evaluate your progress, your time and the plans for the upcoming day and week. Does something need to be better allocated in your day or sacrificed? Do things need to shift a bit? What are potential barriers today? What could I improve? What could I let go of?
This step is critical, as it will help keep you balanced and present in the moment. Self-regulation is what separates those who achieve their goal and continue to flourish. The ability to focus, resist temptation and redirect our attention speaks of self-regulation. It’s the process towards self-awareness. We have the ability to think about our thoughts, be aware of our awareness, behave according to our behavior and have feelings about our feelings.
With this level of perception, we can be the masters of our destinies.
A question for you: Can you think of a time in the past where you set an unrealistic goal and struggled to hit it? How could you have modified the goal to make yourself more likely to succeed? Be specific.