We’re mid-way through the most BLAH month of the year, some of our friends are mid-way through the Whole Life Challenge, and the CrossFit “Open is Upon Us." With all this in mind, we have spent a lot of time this week reflecting on our goals and motivation.
Did you set New Year's Resolutions this year? We did. And to be honest, just like the majority, we can feel our commitment and motivation slipping. But we’re not ready to give up and move on. Recognizing the struggle to find balance, continue to meet our goals, and avoid burnout, we’ve spent some time talking with Michael D'Angelo to learn more about where to go from here.
Michael is a Mental Performance Coach. He is a graduate from the University of Ottawa with a Masters degree in Human Kinetics, specializing in Sport/Performance Psychology. Michael, a lifelong athlete playing many high level competitive sports, found his true passion in performance coaching. Michael is an avid CrossFit athlete and competitor. We share the belief that when it comes to success and performance, training and caring for the mind is as important as training and caring for the body. Here are some of Michael’s thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions, goal setting and motivation:
3D: Do you think people can be successful with New Year's Resolutions? Why or why not?
Mike: Nearly 50% of the North American population set New Year's Resolutions, but they aren't for everyone. I don't set New Year's resolutions. I don't find that they give me extra motivation. If I need to make a change for myself, I need to move on that inspiration rather than wait for a time like the New Year to inspire me.
That said, everyone is different. So I think the simple answer is yes. And I'm not just saying that to make everyone who reads this feel good. I truly believe that people can be successful with New Year's Resolutions; it's no different than any other goal or achievement that people try to reach throughout their lives, except it coincides with the start of a New Year. And of course, I believe that people can be successful in accomplishing things that they set out for themselves.
3D: So why do New Year's Resolutions fail?
Mike: There are many reasons for failed resolutions, but I will start by pointing the finger at some social constructs. Culturally, the New Year is a time when we are allowed to "start fresh" and redefine ourselves. With this in mind, many people make resolutions or set goals for themselves that are either too lofty or they aren't ready to commit to. I believe the cultural norms of "new year new me" attitudes do a disservice by providing people with false hope that they can accomplish something simply because it's 2017 instead of 2016. In so doing, people actually end up wishing for something to happen rather than committing to making a plan to make it happen. In other words, most people wish for things through resolutions that they aren't ready to work for; in order to accomplish goals or create change, people should be acting on true inspiration and desire.
Of course, there are people who are committed to making a change through a New Year's resolution, but they still fail. Every situation will be different but, in my personal and professional experience, there's usually a part of the process that needs work. Perhaps the resolution had an unrealistic timeframe - like losing 100lbs in 2 months. Or perhaps, someone fails to look ahead to see potential problems that could get in the way of their goal, such as time management issues surrounding other obligations. If someone fails to achieve their goal or resolution, it's almost always the result of a missing piece of the process.
3D: If you want to make changes in your life or accomplish your goals, what can you do to set yourself up for success?
Mike: This answer may seem simple, but the best way to make changes and/or accomplish things in life is to have a plan. Almost all accomplishments start with an idea, or a desire to achieve something important. Once the idea is there, the best way to ensure success is to plan, followed by planning, and lastly planning some more. If it sounds redundant, it's supposed to. Some of the world's most successful people got where they are by planning what they'd need to do to accomplish their goals, while simultaneously anticipating roadblocks or barriers and how to get around them when they show up. Coming up with the what (the resolution/goal) is the easy part; the how-to (planning) is what takes time and effort, but it is what ultimately leads to success.
Along with planning comes flexibility and reactivity. Planning is critical but it's impossible to predict everything that will come up along the way. It's necessary to be flexible with your goals for success, and to be able to react to situations when they come up.
Lastly, to make changes/accomplish goals/find success you have to DOcide to take ACTION. The individual who wants to get super fit that plans for 3 months creating the perfect workout schedule and the perfect diet, but never follows through by actually DOING the workouts or eating the right foods will obviously not find success. Planning is critical to making dreams reality, but ACTIONS are what actually move you along the path.
3D: Is there a key or magic bullet to staying motivated?
Mike: It's not uncommon to feel unmotivated at times. When it comes to CrossFit or even my business life, I have days where I wake up and I'm ready to take on the world, and days where I don't want take on getting out of bed. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to being motivated. In my personal and professional experience, the feeling of motivation is a combination of many factors, some of which are controllable, while others not so much. A key point to note here is don't waste energy on the things we can't control; that's a surefire way to hurt motivation. Sometimes, things like our progress can motivate us. For example, it will always a mental boost to see results such as losing 10 lbs if that is your goal, but we all know it doesn't often work that way.
3D: What are your top 3 tips to maintaining motivation?
Mike: 1 - Having realistic and inspiring goals: First of all, having goals provides direction, which automatically feeds into our motivation to do things that move us in that direction. So it's important to make goals or resolutions in the first place, and make them real by writing them down. Secondly, goals or resolutions absolutely need to be challenging and need to be high enough to not sell yourself short, but they also need to be realistic. Using the example above, losing 100 lbs in 2 months is not the most realistic goal, and failing to achieve any goal we set for ourselves is an easy way to lose motivation. So being realistic with what you want to achieve is important. That being said, it's equally important that what you want to achieve inspires you, and feeds your internal flame. If thinking about what you'd look like after losing 100 lbs does not excite or inspire you, it's going to be very difficult to find a replacement for that internal motivation. So as obvious as it sounds, make sure that whatever it is you set you to accomplish, you actually want to do it!
2 - Avoiding burnout: Burnout is a feeling of being exhausted, run down, and unmotivated that often follows from doing too much. As this relates to your resolutions or goals, it's important to take things in stride and to understand that big changes do not occur overnight. Many people's natural reaction to not getting the results they want is to try 'harder'. Unfortunately, trying harder doesn't mean trying smarter, and therefore an increase in an effort met by not change in results can have a negative impact on motivation. So avoid burnout by keeping things in moderation, and paying attention to your mind and body when it asks for rest and relaxation.
3 - Having a support network: Whether it be friends, family, or expert resources that can help you answer questions you may have along your journey, having a support network is critical to success. Sometimes, it's to pick you up when you've fallen down, and sometimes it's to celebrate with you when you accomplish something. No one goes through life by themselves, and the power of community cannot be underrated when it comes to motivation. Just look at the CrossFit world - how much harder do you push in a workout with friends around you in the same pain as you are, with a coach supporting you to do your best? It's hard to replicate the impact that community and social support can have on someone's motivation. So surround yourself with the best people possible and let them know how they can help you to achieve your goals.
If you would like to learn more, add Michael to your support network. He will be now offering performance coaching services at both our CrossFit Connection clinic in Burlington, and CrossFit Streets clinic in Mississauga. Visit 3dhealthsolutions.ca to contact us for more information.