If you want to reach your goals, you need to create leverage…
Here we are again, the beginning of a new year. It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the new start of 2015. Yet, here we are 365 days later at the start of a brand new year. Man, time sure does fly. One thing we Americans infallibly do every year at this time is give ourselves a fresh start. We allow ourselves to wipe off the slate, get inspired and start from scratch on new goals for the up coming year that we like to call New Years Resolutions.
Unfortunately, this is the one time of the year where people feel powerful and excited about making positive changes for themselves. I say unfortunately because I personally think it’s a shame that this seems to be the only time people feel they can truly make changes for themselves. It’s almost as if they think it’s impossible to make change at any other time of the year. This logic doesn’t make sense to me.
Why don’t people put this kind of effort into better themselves all the time? What kind of awesome and powerful changes could you make for yourself if you put in the kind of effort you do this time of year 365 days of the year? What if you put in that effort for multiple years … or 10 years in a row? The possibilities would be endless wouldn’t they? Instead of consistently striving for their ideal existence, people choose to promise themselves the world once a year and as soon as they hit a little bit of adversity on the path to their resolution, they quit. Justifying their personal failure with an excuse that allows them to defer the blame from themselves and put off their desired goal until the next year. Hey … we have all been there.
The most damaging part of this whole scenario is that once someone fails enough times, the thought of their ideal existence eventually fades and is forgotten, relegating them to a dull, mediocre existence at best. The repetitive failure kills dreams, and once that happens you aren’t living anymore, you’re simple existing.
How many times have you hit a small speed bump that throws you off track and all of the sudden you find yourself back where you started, demoralized and completely frustrated?
Every year, especially around this time people make promises to themselves that they rarely, if ever, keep. Not only do these annual failures keep them from the life they truly desire, but they also damage their self-esteem and confidence sending them into a worse position that they initially were in and thus further perpetuating a cycle of failure that ultimately leads to a lower quality of life.
It goes like this: Year after year you draw a line in the sand and say “This is it…I’m going to do this!” You hit the New Year with all the best intentions and tremendous enthusiasm! You may tell yourself: “I’m going to kick some serious ass this year and finally get it together!”. On the motivation scale of 1 to 10 you are a 25! You go to the store, buy all the healthy food you know you need to eat, maybe get some new workout gear (because hey…you want to look good at the gym right?). You start on Day 1 and you do great! You eat all the right foods, do all your weights and cardio and you are feeling great about it! You wake up the next day and can hardly move, and you think to yourself “Man, I don’t really feel like going to the gym today” but you go anyway. Victory! However, as time fades, you find yourself less and less excited about that goal you set for yourself. It becomes harder and harder to eat all that healthy food and it becomes easier to say yes to drinks with the crew. Going to the gym goes from being an exciting accomplishment into a mundane, excruciating chore. Pretty soon those visits to the gym are few and far between and before you know it…you’re done. Once again, we’ve all been there.
Why do you think this is? Why does this pattern repeat itself year after year with so many well meaning truly motivated individuals? Why do they start out so hot and fade into the abyss as time passes?
The answer is very simple. They forget. They forget “why” they are doing what it is they are trying to do. You see, its real easy in the beginning to hit the ground running because you know exactly what it is you’re after and “why” you’re after it. What accomplishing this goal means to you is very fresh in your mind when you first set out after it. It’s easy to get motivated because you can actually “feel” what it will mean for you to make the change once and for all and accomplish your goal. It’s extremely exciting!
Then inevitably, father time begins to take his toll and just as time heals all wounds in times of distress….it also helps you forget the reasons “why” you do what you do. The technical term for what I’m referring to as the “why” is leverage. By coming up with enough reasons “why” you need to accomplish something you create an internal leverage that helps propel you toward your goal with minimal conscious effort. This is why it’s so easy to hit the gym hard and eat right in the beginning because you have created a lot of leverage for yourself. Leverage makes things feel very easy. Leverage is what propels the effortless momentum you feel when you’re “in the zone”. The problem is, it’s easy to let this leverage weaken and eventually fall off the wagon if you don’t consistently reinforce that leverage for yourself everyday.
You already know where you want to be right? You have a goal in mind, a final destination if you will. Well, if a goal is the final destination on a road map to success, the leverage is the tires, engine and gas! Without the “Big L” you aren’t getting very far. Most goal setting programs tell you “You must define exactly and specifically where it is you want to be” and they don’t say much more than that. Although this is true, you must first define where you are going exactly and specifically, these traditional programs are neglecting a huge part (the more important part) of the formula. You got it … leverage. Leverage is an absolutely necessary psychological element to achieving anything! It’s not an option. So if you must absolutely have it, you might as well create it deliberately from the get-go.
So how do we get more leverage? Better yet how can we keep it? It’s actually very simple. You have to identify the reasons behind the goal and remember them. A rare few people can achieve tremendous goals without tracking their leverage consciously. For these people their drive and focus on the end result is so strong and so consistent that their personal leverage is internalized and burned into their psyche. It’s literally a part of their personality. It’s automatic and it makes achieving the goal virtually effortless from a mental standpoint. For these people the drive is so tremendous that achieving the goal (whatever it may be) is almost automatic. Now, while most people aren’t that way, it is absolutely possible to train yourself to be that way by practicing a few short mental exercises each and every day.
I have included a list of questions at the end of this article to help you cultivate the true reasons you must change (your leverage). They are designed to be tough, personal questions to provide you with a lot of leverage toward achieving your goal. It is my hope to help you create the leverage needed for you to not only achieve your goals but to make the process a lot easier. These questions are designed to be reflected upon in depth so that you can find compelling reasons for change right now.
Before we get into the questions, you need to make sure you are mentally prepared to answer them. Make time to be in a quiet place for at least 30-45 minutes. Don’t half ass it or you’ll get half ass leverage and in turn half ass results…and we don’t do anything half ass do we? Stop reading now if you cannot afford the time to do this and come back later…it’s very important.
Ready? Good. So let’s get to it. Remember BE HONEST about where you are it’s the true key to personal success.
If you aren’t living life in your best body, are you really being the best person you can be?
Are you truly getting the most that you possibly can out of your own life?
If you’re not getting the most out of your own life, how can you possibly be giving all you can to your family and those around you?
How can you be giving the most you can to your spouse or significant other?
How can you be giving the most to your career?
Are you setting the best example you can for your children, spouse, friends, co-workers or employees?
Are you honestly proud with the direction your life is going and has been going?
Do you feel you should be “further along” than where you currently are?
How do you truly feel about yourself when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud and confident of what you see or are you embarrassed and insecure?
If you are embarrassed, what were three situations where you are embarrassed about how you look?
Is this the life you always imagined yourself living when you were growing up?
How does your ideal life you imagined yourself living differ from your real life?
How would living life in your best body affect other areas of your life? (relationships, work, health etc)
How much time have you wasted putting off that which you wish to have in life until tomorrow, next week, next month or next year?
What would the last ten years have been like had you made the commitment to living the life you want?
What will the next 5 years be like living life on your terms with your goals not only accomplished but as a defining part of your persona?
Do you believe that the past decisions you have made that have gotten you where you are now have any impact on where you go from this point forward?
What is the ultimate end result you are striving for in your life? What does your ideal life consist of?
What’s stopping you from making these changes now?
Take your time to go through these and find your REAL reasons for wanting a change. Dig deep down and find the good stuff! Take some time (at least 30-45 minutes) to thoroughly reflect over these questions to help you cultivate why you want to change. While you’re doing this; you might take off your clothes and go stare at yourself in the mirror for a minute or two and continue to reflect on the above questions. I’ll bet you come up with some pretty darn convincing reasons to make this change!
Next, you are going to write down at least five good detailed reasons that you must follow and make a change to achieve your goal based on the reflection you have just done. Remember, be detailed and be honest. Get a piece of paper and start writing. Each reason may just be a sentence or two or they could be a paragraph in length. It’s different for everyone. Number the reasons 1-5. After you write down these five reasons I want you to answer two questions below the five reasons you came up with.
1. What will happen if you don’t make the necessary changes right now? Where will the road you are currently on take you?
2. If you don’t change right now, where will you be a year from now, five years from now?
So you should have seven things written down on your paper, five reasons why you must follow through and make this goal happen now, followed by what will happen if you follow through and then what will happen if you don’t.
First thing in the morning, every single day, take 5 minutes and read over your reasons for change aloud. Repeat the process again before you go to bed. If you’re embarrassed reading aloud, go to a private place. Just make sure you do it. This is going to be the consistent reminder to why you must push through and why you absolutely cannot and will not fail.
Aside from morning and evening, turn to this “Leverage List” when you are feeling down, feeling lazy or just plain tired and it will provide you the leverage necessary to keep you moving in the right direction. It is important not to neglect or rush through this process. You must do it consistently and let the answers sink in…don’t just skim it. Even if you get to a point where you have them memorized, read it everyday and think about your Leverage List when you are showering and going through your routine to get ready for your day or as you are falling asleep at night. Follow through on this exercise and your chances of success this year increase an immeasurable amount! It’s time to get serious about change, it’s time to do whatever it takes to ensure personal success in 2016!
I realize that this will take some time and effort to complete, but you must do it completely. When have you gotten anything good in your life with no effort? Go back at least once a week and reflect on the above questions again. Some of these questions are hard to answer, they’re supposed to be, but you must be honest with yourself. Remember, the idea here isn’t to fill you with a bunch of feel good motivational “rah rah” feel good nonsense. That kind of motivation leaves you as quickly as it comes. The purpose here is for you to really think about how you have been living your life and why you must change. To remind you of those reasons when you feel like quitting.
Don’t let another minute, hour, day, week, month or year go by not living the life you truly desire. Do this exercise right now, don’t put it off. Remember, going through the motions isn’t the same as making a real change. Get the leverage and make this year the year you kick some real ass! Make that change this year! Your life will never be the same.
***NOTE: Although in this context we are speaking in terms of your physical conditioning, this process is applicable to ANY goal you wish to accomplish in life. Try it out in other areas too. I promise you’ll be thrilled with the results.
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