Do you need to be more empathetic? More motivated? More peaceful? Could you simplify your life? Or enrich it? What’s the state of your finances/friendships/family dynamics? And just how many steps are you getting per day?
Welcome to National Self-Improvement Month, friends. As a nation, we’re no strangers to the world of self-improvement – in fact, 66% of women and 54% of men in America believe that the best way to accomplish good in the world is through self-improvement.
And if Americans in general relish the quest to personal reform, then millennials, or those born roughly between 1978 and the mid-90’s, happen to be the gold star poster children of this phenomenon. This sector of the population stereotyped by some as lazy and entitled appears to be the most eager to improve themselves. In 2015 millennials reported spending twice as much as baby boomers on self-improvement, although their income was about half. That same year a full 94% of millennials reported taking steps toward personal enrichment.
But, as writer and speaker Robin Sharma said, “The smallest of actions is always better than the noblest of intentions,” and even if we load the right apps, and buy the right running shoes, and listen to the right podcasts, unless we actually take the steps toward improving the area we desire, our self-improvement efforts come up empty.
So, regarding your fitness, how DO you create an “improved” fitness plan that you’ll actually stick to? One that does more than sound really great in theory (and in your braggy Facebook post)?
- Determine your ability. No, not your ability to run a few miles or curl a cool 25, but rather the frequency with which you’re able to exercise. Can you take lengthy fitness lunch hours every day? Do you have friends/spouse/job/kids/pets/parents that require a lot of time? If you can only squeeze in 40 minutes, 3 times per week, start there. And once you’ve set a plan based on your availability, cut yourself no slack. If you tell yourself that you’re going to do HIIT every Wednesday and Saturday, then for the love of Pete, BE THERE.
- Determine your location. Do you have access to trails or run-friendly sidewalks? How close is the FIT36 studio? Will there be some days that you’ll only be able to go as far as the treadmill in your basement? Real action often gets lost in vagueness, so get specific with where you’ll work out on which days. Put your workout days and locations in your smartphone calendar, and then treat them as you would any other immovable appointment.
- Determine a concrete goal. Promising yourself that you’ll lose 13 pounds and be able to knock out 30 pushups in one go by Christmas will get you a lot further than simply saying, “I should really lose weight and get stronger.”
- Determine an audience. Which of your cronies will be able to walk the fine line of being supportive and encouraging, while kicking your butt if you don’t follow through? Enlist the inner sideline coach of a few friends or family members and let them know that you’re serious about your goals.
Fitness goals that don’t ever take flight are worthless. Celebrate National Self-Improvement Month by developing a fitness plan that you’ll actually stick to. And even if you don’t utilize the help of television doctors or mindfulness apps, you’ll feel empowered and strong for having met your goal, purely because it was authentically yours, it was challenging, and you were victorious.