Thursday, October 16, 2008

Learning to Follow Through

My lifelong struggle to get fit and attain/maintain a healthy weight has left me with the notion that I “lack discipline” – that there was something just not up to snuff about my efforts or my will power to stick with a plan and achieve lasting results. This is a painful feeling to have about myself. But when I step back I realize that I’ve displayed what I think of as discipline in many other aspects of my life. I’ve gotten control over my finances and paid off a massive amount of debt. I’ve continued to live below my means and started saving in a meaningful way. Shoot, I even quit biting my nails. So maybe it’s not about discipline, but something else entirely?

I found some clarity in yet another fantastic post over at Zen Habits. The author, Leo, suggested that goal achievement isn’t necessarily about discipline at all. Instead, he recommends finding the motivation to keep going. He points to two main tactics for success:

“And those two things are so deceptively simple that you might decide to stop reading after I name them: 1) make things enjoyable and 2) use positive public pressure. But read on for more on how to use those two things to motivate yourself for any goal.”

And read on, I did. And he’s right. They are incredibly simple concepts and that’s the great thing about Leo’s writing – it’s completely common sense and right on the money in terms of what I need to hear. Just today I had a lesson in the “public pressure” part of his suggestions. I have started stopping at Starbucks in the mornings again over the last few days. I walked through the lobby at work with one of the tell-tale cups in my hand. I stopped to talk to a coworker and she sure did notice that I had a Starbucks when I had said I’d stopped buying from them in my newsletter article. Totally busted! That is the trouble with – I mean the beauty of – putting things out there. Now, I’m on the hook. I have people around who know my goals and that is some serious added incentive to stick to them.

In order to take him up on his advice, I’m going to (publically!) commit to the following:

1. I’ll make getting active fun by continuing to download great audio books to listen to when walking. I’ll keep going to yoga classes at work, which are convenient, fun, and a good way to meet and get to know coworkers.

2. I will continue to log my activity through my participation in the Breast Cancer Awareness fitness challenge at Elastic Waist. My goal is to do at least 30 minutes of activity a minimum of 5 days a week. That’s fun AND public. Shazam!

3. Starting Saturday, I will stop the madness the sugar. I’ll stick to as close to whole foods as I can and stay away from anything with sugar or processed carbs. I know I’ll feel better and can’t wait for these cravings to calm down.

So now these goals are all “out there” like my Starbucks commitment. I will make public updates here about how I’m doing – please ask if I don’t volunteer!

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