What if I told you one small exercise can change the quality of your life and health.
Would you believe me?
Or would you think I’m blowing smoke up your rear?
Think about this.
Are you operating as the best possible version of yourself?
I can honestly admit that I’m not. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically—there’s room to improve.
Before you read any further, take a few seconds and think about how this year is going.
Are you the best leader you can be? Are you the best employee you can be? Are you the best boyfriend and/or husband you can be?
Are you feeding your body the best possible nutrients that you can? Are you doing your best to exercise each day?
Most importantly, are you doing the best you can to achieve the goals that you claimed you wanted?
The majority of us (guilty as charged) don’t ask ourselves these types of questions often enough.
I’m currently reading Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and this book describes how we fail to become the very people we want to be. It’s not lack of ambition; it’s the various triggers that we encounter each and every day.
He defines a trigger as “any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. In every waking hour, we’re being triggered by people, events, and circumstances that have the potential to change us.”
There are the typical reasons that people don’t become the person they want to be such as lack of commitment and excuses, but bigger than that is our environment and approach to our goals.
Great intentions are discreetly being sabotaged due to our environments.
For example, we all know that sleep is beneficial, but this still doesn’t stop a high percentage of us from neglecting it. We forget that the environment has a direct correlation with our sleep behavior.
Dutch researchers call this “bedtime procrastination”—you put off going to bed because the current environment (watching Netflix, playing video games, cleaning the house, or surfing Facebook) is comfortable compared to moving to a quieter area like the bedroom and shutting off the electronics. Our environments are competing with each other (and we know which one usually wins).
After years of conditioning and a specific type of behavior settling in as the norm to your daily life, it takes consistent effort and patience to change this.
One of the biggest mistakes many well-intentioned people make when starting a new fitness regimen is to try to change everything at once. No more sweets, milk, or bread—instead it’s kale shakes and tofu. The pendulum of activity has gone from no activity to five strenuous workouts a week.
Unfortunately, many of us overestimate ourselves and believe we’re capable of handling these lifestyle changes in extreme doses and that just isn’t the case. When change doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like, people don’t notice the “new you” that’s forming, work gets hectic, or your personal life becomes overwhelming—the chances of you giving up is highly likely.
Discouragement that you haven’t achieved these results after going cold-turkey on all your old habits combined with the overwhelm of work and life equals you not changing into the person you want to be—despite the strong desire that might be lurking inside.
Meet the “Wheel of Change”
Achieving lasting and meaningful behavioral change is difficult because it’s hard to admit to ourselves that we need to change.
One of the chapters in Triggers discusses the “wheel of change,” which is a model that helps people process the plethora of options that are available when they want to become a better version of themselves. To be the person who we want to be require us to change or keep the positive elements and change or keep the negative elements.
The wheel of change consists of four parts: creating, preserving, eliminating, and accepting.
1. Creating—Represents a positive element that we want to create in the future (example: a weight loss goal, business goal, travel goal, etc). Basically, what are we going to invent or add into our lives?
2. Preserving—Represents the positive elements that we want to keep in the future. What are the things in our lives that we wish to maintain or improve upon that already serve us?
3. Eliminating—Represents the negative elements that we want to eliminate in the future. What are some things that we need to reduce or erase from our daily life to make this future self a reality?
4. Accepting—Represents the negative elements that we need to accept in the future. What are the things we try to delay or need to make peace with to make this future self a reality?
How does this model look in fitness?
Let’s use an example of someone who wants to lose 10 pounds and live a healthier life. Here are some questions they could ask and answer for greater clarity.
1. Preserving (maintain or improve)—What have I learned already that is having a positive impact on my weight loss goals? Which of my current behaviors in my life are complementing my weight loss goals? How can I keep doing these behaviors in the current context?
What do I need to do to ensure I don’t lose focus on these positive behaviors? How can I use these existing behaviors to catapult me into what I’m trying to ultimately achieve? How can I take what is working to the next level? Who in my life helps me to become a better person when I’m around them?
2. Creating (add or invent)—What is one healthy behavior I could add to my life that I believe (or have been told) will have a huge effect on me and my goals? What is one habit that I could implement to improve my current environment?
3. Eliminating (reduce or erase)—What is a habit or behavior that I need to stop doing—even if it’s something that I enjoy? What actions within my daily life do I need to take less often because it’s having a negative impact on my goals—even if it’s unintentional?
4. Accepting (things we try to delay or need to make peace with)—This is the toughest piece of the model to reflect upon. What about myself do I need to accept (for some this is their body, releasing shame, past failure, etc.)
What must I accept in this present moment—even if it isn’t what I want because everything doesn’t change instantaneously (example: accepting you’re overweight or weaker at this moment, but still remembering this isn’t your future necessarily?)
What things must I accept because I have no control over them (example: losing exactly 10 pounds in 4 weeks)? What things in my life are worth fighting for and pursuing and what needs to be let go of because it’s not ultimately serving my mission for who I want to become (sacrifices are necessary)?
Implementing this exercise into your life is beneficial because you can figure out what you can realistically change and what you can’t while figuring out what to eliminate and what to keep. This leads you to take real steps toward becoming the person who thrives in life, business, relationships and in fitness.
Originally published at The Art of Fitness & Life.
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