Tips to Living Your Best Life
I have been working in the fitness industry for the past 10 years, but have been setting goals for myself for over half of my life. Whether that is in the gym or not, I have a lot of experience with creating programs for myself to get better along with helping out my clients too as a personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach. I will admit that with all these years of training myself I do not think I have once created “S.M.A.R.T. Goals”. If you are a coach of any type, I am sure that you have heard of this catchy acronym used in the coaching space.
I am not trying to defy anyone that uses this goal setting parameter nor am I trying to say that this method does not work. Honestly, I am sure that it does and I truly believe that so many people have been positively affected by these parameters.
Similarly, I am sure that food tracking apps like “MyFitnessPal” really help a lot of people too but I have not used anything like that for a few years now. I just know that meticulously tracking things like my fitness progress, strict dietary guidelines, or anything else that requires specific counting and measurements just is not my strong point. The truth is that I can be great at counting and measuring all the things that I need to for about 1 month, maybe sometimes 3 days until I get tired of counting things.
Here are some tips that might help you set goals and conquer them without a focus on meticulously measuring progress, but still progressing forward.
It Starts With Why
If there was one Ted talk that got me hooked on their meaningful messages, it would have to be “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek. Throughout that talk, he mentions that people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Then he goes into the importance of businesses to have a very specific reasoning to why they do what they do. Their “why” is how the consumers buys what they do. Because that “why” invokes feeling and that “why” makes it real to them. When we look at our own goals, we need to take into consideration our “why”. Your “why” to your goals makes things real. Your “why” makes things matter. Your “why” makes you try harder and not give up when that is all you want to do.
If you want to lose body fat, why do you want to do that? Why will that affect your life and the people around you? Why will that affect the way that you view yourself? Maybe losing weight matters because you want to prove that even though you are getting older that doesn’t mean you cannot be in the best shape of your life. Maybe losing weight will inspire your family members and friends to make healthier choices in their lives as well too.
If you want to be healthy, why does that matter? Why is your health a priority? Why do you need to make healthier choices at this point in your life? Maybe being healthy is more about you living a longer life to enjoy with your kids or loved ones. Maybe you want to be healthy because you want to have more energy to be great at your work, life, and relationships.
Figuring out a goal is important, but figuring out the true “why” behind what you do helps you move from a mindset of “I want to” all the way to “I need to”. Keep asking yourself “why” something matters and it will drive you forward. You won’t wake up thinking things like, “I want to do better” to “I need to make the right changes in my life because it is going to help me and everyone else around me”.
An exercise that helps me every day, is taking out a journal and asking myself these questions. Really focus on one starting question, but go deeper with follow up questions after to remain focused on that main question. Here is an example of the questions followed by some answers
(A) Why do I feel so unhappy? I have not been taking the time that I need for myself. I have not been able to meditate for a few days now. I feel like work has been too difficult for me lately.
(B) How can you make the right changes? I can start by scheduling a few minutes to go on a walk every morning to get my head in the right place and blood flowing. I can take a look at my schedule every night and fill in some time to enjoy the things that I love. I just gotta focus on serving people through my work again.
(C) What are some of the lessons I am learning? The most important relationship we have is the one with ourselves. I need to get back to loving me again. I am blessed to have this job and I am actually really helping people. I am motivated on helping them more.
*Go deeper here if you need to*
Create your Process
One of my favourite exercises to do with my clients is to talk about what they want to accomplish rather than breaking down their monthly goals to what they need to do on a daily and weekly basis. These daily and weekly activities and goals are a part of your process. One of the most impactful books that I have read this past year was a book called “Motivation Myth” by Jeff Haden. In that book, he writes about how motivation can be fleeting and ineffective. Motivation can just be a feeling, but if there is no action it will always only be a feeling. What is more important than motivation is actually creating momentum.
Jerry Seinfeld became one of the most successful comedians of all time, but that did not happen by accident. He had a calendar and put X’s on each day that he wrote new jokes. He created a chain of X’s that not only helped him be a better comedian, but also helped him know that he was on the right track and was putting in the work to be a better comedian. When you take steps towards your goals, even if they are small steps at least you know you are moving forward. Jim Kwik wrote in his book, “Limitless”, that when there is a goal that you have on your mind, but keep pushing it back then it actually weighs down on your mental space and you can start to feel like a failure. That is why those small daily goals are just as important as those lofty monthly and yearly goals.
When it comes to daily process, think about the minimum amount of work needed to move forward. Your daily goal should not be to workout for one hour a day every single day. Not because you need to take rests, but because that might be too large of a commitment. When you do not achieve the work that you committed to and do only 30 minutes instead of an hour, you might feel like you failed. However, when you set a goal of doing 15-30 minutes of exercise daily than anything else you do above that is just extra credit. So what are the small steps that you can make forward towards the bigger goals that you want to accomplish.
The weekly process is a broader viewpoint on what you need to do in order to be the person you need to be. This can be how many days are you trying to eat really clean for the week. How many workouts will you need to accomplish in order to get there. But it can also include more lifestyle things like: how many date nights should you have, how many hikes do you need to enjoy, or how many afternoons will you dedicate to spending time with your kids. Your weekly process makes sure that you have the right plan in place to continue moving forward.
So what does that process look like:
● Drop 2% body fat
● Build a better relationship with my romantic partner
● Repair my mental health
● Get 20-30 minutes of extra movement per day (strength training,
● Fast for 16-18 hours before first meal of the day
● At least 5 of daily urinations should be clear
● Meditate every afternoon, sometimes twice per day
● Journal daily
● Ask partner how they are doing, how their day went, and if there is
anything you can do for them
● 3-4 strength training sessions
● 1 long walk/hike/bike ride
● 2 cheat days every week
● 5-6 days of intermittent fasting
● 1 day dedicated to rest and recovery
● Date Night every Friday
● Cook for partner two nights per week
● 1 afternoon to date yourself and figure out what you like and want
Focuses for this month:
1. Having more empathy towards self
2. Move more frequently throughout the day
3. Really listen and support partner
This is a practice that has been a truly invaluable tool for me this past year. Every Sunday, I do not go to sleep before checking in with how the previous week went. I first started this practice when I noticed how helpful it was when my cousin, JR, and I would check-in with each other about our lives almost every week. I found that checking in with yourself is important to reflect on what is going well and what is not, but also to forecast what you will be doing for the coming week. So I created a template: Weekly Check-In Template
Weekly Goal Checklist
▫ Goal #1 — do 3 strength training sessions
▫ Goal #2 — meditate every weekday
▫ Goal #3 — date night
▫ Goal #4 — close a sales deal
▫ Goal #5 — stretching or yoga every morning
*Create your checklist of the things you want to accomplish for the week and review them again at the start of the next week to see how you did and what still needs to be done for the coming week*
Short Answer Questions (filled in with examples)
What went well this week?
This week I was able to do all of my workouts, was able to meditate every single day, and started each morning with a stretch routine to my favourite podcast.
What do you need to stop?
I keep forgetting to take time for myself throughout the week and fill up my time with way too much work. I got too busy for my partner, so we did not get to spend time together.
What do you need to start?
I need to figure out what I really like and schedule time to do that. I need to prioritise my own time more. I really need to focus on setting a date night and helping my partner plan that all out.
What is something you really want this week?
I think I am ready to take my workouts to the next level. I will commit to another class to do a workout session. This week, I want to feel more happy. I’ll do more things that bring me joy. I got to dedicate more time to my own well-being.
Grade your Week
(1-10 scale, after you list your number write how you can increase that number by just 1 point)
How would you grade your work?
8, I was able to close the deal like I said that I would. I have been working on a few other prospects as well. My boss said I am doing good work. I can start work earlier, instead of 9 AM and I can try and get out earlier too.
How would you grade your health?
7, I started working out more consistently again and it feels great! The workouts are getting easier. Now that the workouts are getting easier, I think I can start pushing myself a bit more. I will try and get my heart rate higher with more volume throughout the week.
How would you rate your relationships?
5, since work has been going well I found myself getting lost in all that hustle. I did not get to spend time with myself as much as I wanted, but also did not have time for anyone else in my life. (Send help plz)
I know I can do a better job of being more present with my partner every day. Date night is a thing we have been pushing back, but I am ready now and I need to make that change.
How would you rate your spirituality?
8, my meditations have been great this past week! I have been feeling more energised and more at peace for sure. I have not been focused on praying for other people, but I want to do send more good intentions throughout the world for those around me.
Goal setting can be tough, especially if we are really hard on ourselves. These are some processes that I started using in my own life to really make sure that I am being the best that I can be for myself and everyone else around me. Your goals matter. The life that you live matters and these strategies will not solve all of your problems, but they will definitely help you make progress towards the things that you want to accomplish and who you want to be.