“You can dramatically change your life but only if you have the desire to change, the decision to take action, the discipline to practice the new behaviors you have chosen, and the determination to persist until you get the results you want.” – Brian Tracy

  • “I just need to focus.”
  • “I just need to buckle down.”
  • “I just need to have more willpower.”
  • “I already know what to do, I just need to do it.”

I’ve probably said all of these things to myself at one point or another and I’m betting you have as well. Most of us already know what to do — eat the right foods, exercise consistently, get proper rest and recovery, and do more of what we love and less of what we don’t. Yet it’s so difficult to put it all together.

How can we avoid feeling lost, stressed out, and overwhelmed, and get more focused, more results, and more stuff done whether that be with regards to our health, career, or in our relationships?

The choices you make are yours and yours alone

The minute junk hits the fan, you make a mistake, or times get tough…accept complete responsibility. Refuse to make excuses and commit to not placing the blame on anyone else or the circumstances. Wherever you are now in your life is because of the choices you made. To get yourself over any hurdle you first need to acknowledge that it is there. Otherwise you’ll just keep running into it over and over.

There’s a wonderful poem by Portia Nelson entitled “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” that is very fitting…

Chapter One

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault… I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

If you are making the same mistake over and over acknowledge it. Ask yourself why do I keep walking down this sidewalk? Then choose a new route. Any route will do. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s not the same one that keep leading you to fall down a hole. When you’re on this new path you’ll now know what to look for. If you see a hole you’ll walk around it and find another path the next day.

If you’re struggling with your nutrition find your hole. Are you always falling of the wagon at night when you get home from work? You’re exhausted and just want to relax? Instead of taking time to prepare a healthy meal are you opting for something processed and quick?

What’s another street you can take? Can you get up a few minutes early every day to make sure you have something prepared for when you get home?

Take a look at your street. Where are the holes? What can you do?

What do I need to do everyday to achieve what I want to achieve

We often don’t fail due to a lack of effort — it’s often consistent effort that we struggle with. Most of the things we want to accomplish take effort spread throughout an extended period of time.

And the honesty…

Most of that effort needs to be extended for a lifetime. Now thinking of things over the course of a lifetime can cause anyone to hyperventilate, but the cool thing is it gets easier and easier. And that effort will become automatic.

Getting up a little earlier to get in a workout will become a habit. Cooking in bulk on a Sunday afternoon so you have meals for the week will feel natural. Using that hour every night you use to reserve for watching your favorite show is now spent on starting your own business.

But the key is to start with one.

Just pick one area of your life that you want to improve. Trying to do too much at one time will require so much effort that you’ll either burn yourself out or make it difficult to commit 100% to each area.

What is the single thing that needs the you want to improve. Start there, commit 100%, and once it’s a habit move on to the next.

My way or the highway leads to you on an empty road all by yourself.

Learn to adapt

There is one thing for certain in this world and that’s change. I can guarantee you one thing and I will never be wrong. Today is most certainly different from yesterday and tomorrow will be different from today.

Even though some days you might feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”, subtle changes are happening every day. Just look back at your life. How different are you from when you were 10, 20, 30, and so on? I bet your job has changed a few times, I’m certain your body, some of your habits, your friends, where you live. Change is one thing I am certain is never going away.

Failure to adapt, try new things, experiment with new methods, techniques, people, and choices will cause you to be left behind.

What worked today might not work tomorrow. Can you eat like you did when you were a kid? Are you as active?

Your responsibilities and passions I am sure have changed as well. It is up to you to adapt to your new environment, your new role, or your new body and to figure out what it is you need to do in order to get where you want to be.

How do your nutrition habits need to adapt? Your exercise habits? Your lifestyle?

Plan. Then plan again. Oh yeah, and plan some more.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

I know we’ve all heard that before…but it’s true. Hey, I like winging it as much as the next guy but if something is not going the way you want or expect take a look at your plan… or maybe failure to have one.

It may seem like you waste time planning but in the long run that planning will save you time as you avoid having to start from scratch if junk hits the fan. A plan is like a map. If you planned out your route and hit a snag or make a wrong turn it gives you a chance to see where you messed up and avoid it in the future.

It also works when things go right. If you get to your destination you will have a route to follow and use again and again and possibly now have some guidance for when you embark on a new trip.

So whatever it is you want to do take time to create a plan. Don’t worry about it being wrong, as long as you’re willing to adapt you’ll make the necessary changes as you go.

Be see-through

As in crystal clear. It’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. Where are you now, where do you want to be, what do you want to do? Don’t concern yourself so much with the “How” but more so the “Why.”

What ever your goal, whatever you want to do define why you are doing it and why it is important to you. If building muscle, losing weight, or finding more work that you love is something you want to pursue define your why.

Here’s an example of how to do that.

“I want to lose fat.”

  • Why do I want to lose fat? Because I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans.
  • But why do I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans? Because when I’m wearing smaller jeans, I think I’ll look better.
  • But why do I want to look better? Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
  • But why do I want to feel good about myself? Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.
  • But why do I want to be more assertive and confident. Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control and better able to get what I want out of life.

Now your turn. Pick one thing that you want to work towards. Just one thing. Make the statement. I WANT TO _______________. Then keep asking yourself, “but why” until you get to the heart of the matter.

I’m almost certain that almost all problems could be solved by doing this…

By always treating others the way we would want to be treated.

Personal, physical, mental, and social problems could almost certainly be solved if we always treated people the way we wanted to be treated. If our coffee order is messed up there is no real reason to berate the barista. It’s not fixing the order any. The only thing it is doing is raising your blood pressure and stressing out the poor girl behind the counter.

When someone cuts us off on the freeway tailgating them, giving them the finger, and honking at them serves no real purpose. It doesn’t change the situation and doesn’t help to resolve any problems.

If you don’t want to feel stressed out, unhealthy, tired, or upset there is a pretty good chance other people don’t want to as well.

What’s holding you back

What is keeping you from getting the body you want, doing work you love, pursuing adventure and passions? Identify and remove. If a jar of peanut butter is getting devoured every night it might be sabotaging your fitness goals. Identify and remove.

Are finances keeping you from taking that trip you have been dying to go on. Identify where you are wasting money and remove.

What now?

Is there anything you know now that if your life started over today you would not get involved in? Well life starts over today. What can you change?

(Photo credit: Honest Abe via Shutterstock)

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