The secret to achieving New Year’s Resolutions

Goals are your destination. Systems the grit that gets you there

Barry WilsonIt’s here again . . . a fresh start, a clean slate – the world is your oyster, this year is going to be 365 days of amazing! Starting to have a déjà vu? Been here done this – starting the year with gusto and enthusiasm and then fizzling somewhere around the end of January, or in really great years, February?

Well it can be different this year. There is a trick to get past the trap of setting big goals and falling into the abyss of doom somewhere between here and February.

Go ahead and make goals, but focus on systems and analytics – that’s what will bring you success. Goals are your destination – systems are the grit that gets you there. Let’s unpack this one a bit. We need an example:

OK, let’s say you have decided that your goal is to reduce your body fat by 10 per cent by June 30 (beach season). This is all well and good, but it has been my experience that success lies in the journey, not the imagined destination. The journey is the system.

For your goal, implementing a well-designed daily exercise program, eating good nutrition, having a strong support network with daily accountability and measuring your performance is your system. Let’s dig deeper.

A well-designed exercise program means it has been assembled with you and your resources (time and $) in mind and provides a schedule of workouts for you to complete. A great example would be the PiYo Workout. Led by trainer Chalene Johnson, the mission of this sped-up, low-impact hybrid routine is to fight fat fast. You can do it at home or in a class at the gym. I’m doing this one at home and it’s terrific!

It is often said in the fitness business, “great abs are made in the kitchen”. The wisdom here is that you have to combine exercise with nutrition to get results. Achieving good nutrition is where the analytics come in.

Yup, this means doing a little planning and measuring. I hate counting calories – unless I have a sick app on my phone that does all the hard work for me. MyFitnessPal is my go-to for making the analytics fun, easy – and it’s free! With a couple of clicks I set up my weekly calorie target and the per cent composition of my nutrition in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. From there, the app does all the work.

As you go through your day, you enter your food and water into the app using a slick interface. In fact, for most foods you can just scan the barcode with your phone and all the nutrient info is automatically captured for you. Just select how many servings you are having and it’s done. The nutrition is summarized instantly so you can compare with your daily goals. If you are looking for a quick snack in the grocery aisle or convenience store, just scan that “protein” bar and know instantly how this is contributing to your daily target.

Beyond this, MyFitnessPal accounts for your exercise. You can either enter what you did (e.g. 30 minute PiYo Buns Workout) or you can connect to other apps (like MapMyRun) or devices (like a Fitbit) to record your workout with those things. MyFitnessPal also knows and automatically adjusts your daily calorie goal to include the calories you burned exercising. Sweet!

Ok, now you need to round out your system with some daily accountability and support. Well, you can connect with your friends through these apps but I also recommend getting a coach. Without support and good guidance, success can be a lot harder to achieve. Coaches are key – all successful people have or work with a coach. Many coaches don’t even charge you for their support – like my coach Karen.

Embrace and love the journey – and you’ll find you achieve your goals as a byproduct. Use goals to help you defining your future – but implement systems for real progress and success.

Barry Wilson is a Systems Ecologist with ce analytic.

New Year's, resolutions, goals

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