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Ask for Advice to Help Achieve Your Goals

Ask for Advice to Help Achieve Your Goals

    It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about what we’d like to achieve in the New Year.

    Whether it’s improving an area of our lives (health or finance for example), taking a life-changing trip or embarking on a new career, chances are we have an idea of what we want to achieve, but not exactly how to achieve it.

    Even if we do have a rough plan of sorts, seeking advice from others who’ve been there before you can only help, and saves from trying to figure everything out on our own.

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    During my tenure as a journalist, I interviewed a number of high profile names who had achieved great success in their chosen field.

    Whenever I did so, my final question, though worded differently, was always pretty much the same:

    “What advice would you give to those looking to follow in your footsteps?”

    Though I asked partly to get a good quote for an article, my motives were mostly selfish; I really respected what my interviewees had achieved, longed to reach the same level of success and desperately wanted to know how they did it. Though I couldn’t always find away to apply everything I was told directly to my life, wherever I could, I did.

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    On standing out from the crowd when approaching editors in my writing career for example, a former editor of Marvel Comics once told me:

    “Don’t be an envelope, be a face, be a name.”

    I employed that line as my own personal mantra when seeking out bigger and better opportunities and certainly found that I’ve achieved more success ever since.

    Who to ask

    In his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Work Week, author Tim Ferriss discusses setting university students the challenge of seeking out high-profile successful people (the guys who created Google, for example) and asking for advice.

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    There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and if you feel confident enough to call up Bill Gates and ask how to run a multi-billion dollar empire (or if you’re a journalist with access to the rich and famous!), then by all means go right ahead, though you’ll usually find plenty of people right on your doorstep who are happy to help.

    Look around you

    Whatever your goals are for the New Year, achieving them on your own is going to be hard work, and there’s likely to be somebody in your network who’ll be able to help.

    If your goal is to run a marathon in 2012, tracking down Paula Radcliffe for training tips might not be necessary if you, or someone in your network, is already a seasoned athlete.

    If you plan to get on top of your finances, who do you know who’s already good with money? What can you learn from them?

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    What to ask

    If there’s one thing my time in journalism taught me, it’s that, when it comes to advice, if you simply ask ‘What do I need to do to follow in your footsteps?” you’re likely to be met with little more than an enthusiastic “Go for it!” Whilst this can do wonders for your motivation, it’s hardly practical and still leaves you scratching your head thinking “Yeah, but how?”

    Instead, think about exactly what it is you want to know, and ask specific questions. To go back to our marathon example, think about specific areas you’re struggling with; how to maintain stamina, what to eat, or even which running shoes to buy. The more specific you can be with your questions, the more useful the advice will be.

    To surmise then, think about your goals for the coming year, think about not only those who could advise you, but also what you need advice on, and make contact. Then, when you find yourself being approached for advice by others, be sure to remember all the times you were in their shoes, and help them out.

    (Photo credit: Hot Keys for Advice and Support via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Chris Skoyles

    Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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