Between 2015 and 2018, I strung together more than three years of daily exercise. It was more than 1,110 days actually, and no one was more surprised by it than I!
My original goal was not that lofty. I knew I wanted to add more exercise into my lifestyle. I happened to exercise every day for a week at one point and wondered if I could do 30 days in a row. I hit that milestone and crazily thought, “Could I do this every day for a whole year?”
I’ve already given away the end of the story: I did! And then kept going for two more years. In that time I learned some critical things about setting goals, staying motivated and achieving success. Whether you’re looking to conquer goals in your personal or professional life, here are some ways to help you get from step one to step DONE!
Write it down, AND share it
I know you’ve heard this before. And if you haven’t: do a simple search online and you’ll have a plethora of articles from self-help coaches, leadership gurus, and published studies to peruse for the rest of the day.
The bottom line here is: if you can write down your goal in a detailed way, you’re already one step on the journey to achieving it. It’s a small step perhaps – but as I’ll write about next, it’s great to celebrate the little things too!
Even better than just writing your goal down? Share it! Personally, I still share my exercise goals on social media and love the feedback I get from other people with their own goals. Finding a community of others working toward a similar achievement can be quite motivating. I post frequent post-workout selfies to keep myself accountable. They’re certainly not my most flattering photos, but I see them as a way to not only keep my fitness goals alive and present, but also inspire others on their own goal journey.
Celebrate the small stuff
Your ultimate goal might be something HUGE! If that’s the case, you can identify several smaller goals that will lead you up the mountain to the BIG ONE.
Perhaps you’re undertaking a new playbook for your sales team in 2020. The definitive goal will be to turn over a comprehensive collection of product information and how best to represent it in the market. That’s a huge chunk of work to chew on all at once. Figure out how to break it apart and tackle one piece at a time. If you write down each of these smaller steps, then cross them off as you go, you’ll see progress and keep the motivation flowing to the end!
I’m a huge believer in celebrating the small victories. It’s a much more effective motivator than beating yourself up for all your small failures.
With my exercise streak, I counted any day that I put at least ten minutes into personal fitness endeavors. I didn’t need to train for a 5K every day – I just needed to put in the effort. Overall I averaged more than thirty minutes a day, but I certainly celebrated busy days when I could only fit in a power walk or ten minutes of body weight exercises.
Get it done right away
Have you heard about the “eat the frog” analogy? It was new to me, but makes sense in a number of ways (other than the actual visualization of eating this poor frog – that makes me go “eww.”)
Mark Twain is quoted as saying something along the lines of, if you start each day eating a live frog, it’s probably the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. Thus the rest of your day will be better, or at least, less gross.
What does this mean when it comes to your goal? Often, we tend to push certain items down on our to-do list because perhaps they’re overwhelming or time-consuming, or other little things pop up and get in the way.
As we push our goal down our priority list, it tends to feel heavier and we set ourselves up for losing momentum, focus, and desire to get it done. For me, this still means getting up early and getting my exercise done before work. Not only do I always feel good about getting it out of the way first thing, it also makes me feel productive right off the bat and I carry extra energy and drive as I head off to work. If I push it off until after work, I often just don’t have the energy or stamina to follow through.
So, plan to tackle something related to your goal right away each day. You may be surprised how it drives you to accomplish more than you expected and gives the rest of your day a boost in attitude!
Don’t wait for Monday or the start of the month or after your birthday. If you want to achieve your goal, just start already. A Tuesday in the middle of February is just as perfect a day as any other. This goes for losing weight, drinking more water, starting a résumé or creating that aforementioned sales playbook. If you have a goal you want to achieve, don’t put any more distance than necessary between it and the finish line.
And if your goal involves lifestyle changes like cutting sugar, adding more veggies, or like me, increasing your exercise minutes, then no one day of the week, month or year holds more significance than another. In fact, the day you start now becomes a day of huge importance, because it’s the day you made the active decision to go after something you want!
This can’t be stressed enough: the path to your goal might fluctuate and you need to be able to evolve to stay on the road. Things out of our control are always going to throw up obstacles.
Back in the 80s and 90s you could lose an entire file because it didn’t get saved properly on your PC. Today, technology offers a myriad of other less-than-fortunate situations to throw us off our game (no wi-fi, internet crashes, syncing problems…ugh!).
Lifestyle changes, like eating better, can be easily derailed by a mood swing, Halloween, or a Super Bowl party.
Being able to take a step back, reassess the situation, and move forward in an unplanned direction are invaluable characteristics to have when in the pursuit of a goal. Remember that celebrating the victories, even the small ones, will help keep you motivated to continue. Failures, either self-made or thrust upon us by outside forces are inevitable. Getting back on track is always commendable! Save that work on a flash drive and bring your own healthy snacks to the party.
For me, just shy of my three year anniversary of daily exercise I hurt my ankle playing soccer and was put in a boot for two weeks. I was undeterred. I still took my dog for a walk around the neighborhood. I hula hooped while watching TV. I lifted weights and used resistance bands. Then an MRI showed I had actually broken my ankle and I was non-weight bearing for six weeks! I still persevered for another week, doing exercises from a chair or the floor.
Celebrate your success
I did end up giving up the streak. I just couldn’t do it with crutches and all the challenges of being one-footed. It was a difficult day, but I eventually saw it for what it really was: time to adjust and go in a new direction. I had met my goal times three and that was reason to celebrate! To this day, I still workout 5-7 days a week, so the ultimate goal for me is still being achieved: making exercise part of my lifestyle.
Now, it’s your turn to take on something you really want to achieve. I hope what you just read gives you a little kick into action! Feel free to share your goal with us at Motivation Excellence. Maybe we can help, but for sure we can cheer you on. Good luck!