to redeem your athletic-self in the 2nd quarter?
Did you wake up the other day, horrified to discover that autumn had suddenly arrived? That “life” and the financial year end had somehow consumed the first few months of your year, and your bike and running shoes were still gathering dust in the corner where you left them after Christmas? Well, the good and bad news is you’re not alone…
Every year, thousands of health and fitness new year’s resolutions fall by the wayside just a few days after they’re sworn in with blood, sweat and tears. Or was it wine? Either way, the stress of returning to the office, hours wasted in traffic, that empty bank account after December’s vacation, and the back-to-school-back-to-reality plight have proven that they will trump good but impulsive intentions of an active lifestyle and healthy eating - almost every time!
“But wait. Surely I cannot write off my entire year in April already? With eight months of 2023 still remaining, there has to be time to redeem my athletic self still… After all, it’s never too late to start, right?”
Now, if you’ve read Thinking, Fast and Slow by award-winning psychologist and author Daniel Kahneman, then you’ll be familiar with the two systems that drive the way we think. The above thinking is likely your brain’s system 2 in action. System 2 is capable of deeper thought processes, reasoning and analytics. System 2 can do mathematical calculations, such as:
“If I need 2 weeks to return to training, 3 months of base training. 3 months building and 2 weeks taper, then I can still participate in an A-race in November!”
System 2, however, is also lazy and prefers not to engage unnecessarily.
“But where, when and how? Where is a good place to start after nearly four months of inactivity, binge-eating, late nights and missed alarms? It’s going to be so hard. And I might not be able to do it. I could make a fool of myself if I commit to something like this. November is a long way away. Anything can happen between now and then! ”
Yes, indeed. Or nothing can happen between now and then… System 2 would be quite happy to accept the above argument, especially if system 1 is in agreement. System 1 tends to accept things at face value and has a habit of using past experiences to predict the future. It's the intuitive but impulsive system who was responsible for those new year's reolutions originally. But it never really got buy-in from system 2 and so when the time arrived to start the job, nobody pitched.
Together, systems 1 and 2 form a team whose goal it is to optimise efficiency and, for most people, minimise work. So how do we get them to work together and help us on our way to glory before Christmas comes around again? How do we convince system 2 to take initiative and get us out of bed at 5am every day, at least until system 1 learns better habits? Well, it might not be easy, but it’s certainly possible.
Here’s our top 5 tips on how to turn your year around and still make 2023 a success on all fronts!
1. Set Goals
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals, but chances are you can’t remember what every letter of the acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and time-bound. Basically, you want to focus on intermittent process goals rather than a single year-end outcome which lacks a means to get there. It really is more about the journey and less about the destination.
2. Start small
Baby steps. Small, measured changes. More concepts you’ve heard previously? That’s because they’re effective! Starting small and using the stepping stone approach ties in nicely with process goals. Small steps are realistic and always seem more manageable than big jumps, which means you’re more likely to actually start, and continue to take the steps towards your end target.
3. Be consistent
Consistency is key. Any successful person - entrepreneur, athlete, artist - will tell you this. It is not just through talent or chance or financial freedom that one becomes successful. It’s through showing up. Day in and day out, through thick and thin, applying yourself consistently will ultimately lead to success.
4. Create a community
Most of us are already aware of and appreciate the concept “it takes a village…” The benefits of surrounding yourself with like-minded people are endless. From your family as a support system, to friends that will get you out of bed and hold you accountable, to the professional coaches, physiotherapists and dieticians who will guide you when the road gets rough. Recognise the individuals who make you a better person and help you move towards your goals. These are the people you can trust and with whom you should share your objectives.
5. Be adaptable
Unfortunately, the road to success is never perfect. So know and accept that there will be bumps, wrong turns, possible stalling and expensive fuel stops. If you’re aware of and prepared for these challenges then your system 2 will already be figuring out solutions to get you back on track!
Armed with these five tools in your toolbox, we now recommend taking an hour or two to lay out a plan of action for redeeming your athletic self in 2023.
In our next blog post we’ll delve deeper into the concepts of goal setting and why it’s such an important piece in the puzzle of success!