At the end of the year, people usually reflect on the year past and set up new resolutions for making positive changes. Often, it involves weight loss, starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, eating healthy foods, reducing alcohol consumption, climbing the corporate ladder, or spending more time with family. All those goals are intrinsically good and worthwhile, but the problem is that 80 % of people set the same New Year resolutions year after year and give up within a few months. With that kind of failure rate, it is not a problem with the person but rather the process.
First and foremost, set ACTION goals, or the behaviors necessary to achieve those goals. No matter what your resolution is, ask yourself what someone would do who has already achieved that goal. If your goal is to be healthy, ask yourself, “What does a healthy person do?” If your goal is to have a strong relationship with your partners and family, ask yourself, “what do happy and successful couples do? If your goal is to become successful in your profession, ask yourself, “what would someone at the top of this field do?” If your goal is to achieve a healthy weight, ask yourself, “what are the steps that a person takes to achieve that goal? Then do those things. If you do them consistently, you will become what you desire. It is not the goals that produce results. It is ACTION.
Let’s take the goal of being healthy. Here are some examples of habits and behaviors that healthy people might do on a regular basis: move their bodies every day (no matter how, possibilities are endless); strength train twice per week; incorporate mobility and stretching; work out at a convenient and scheduled time; establish workout accountability with a trainer, friend, class or club; sip water all day; eat fruits and vegetables at every meal; purchase mostly unprocessed food; remove any temptations; establish boundaries around drinking alcohol; create a bedtime routine to maximize sleep; incorporate stress reduction habits; etc… . Those actions and behaviors are, of course, examples. Do not be overzealous. Choose the one or two behaviors you think you will enjoy and be able to do consistently. Avoid the all-or-nothing approach. Instead of focusing on all the foods you cannot eat, set goals for the foods you need to consume to promote health. It is a much more positive focus. If you haven’t been working out at all, commit to go to the gym or pool three times per week, and just moving your body more on the other days. It is way more realistic than trying to get there every day, especially for the long term. Set yourself up for success. Find your people: research indicates that we become who we hang with. Finding a mentor: joining a club who share your goal will help you. Other people’s energy, discipline and motivation will rub off.
Now if you are already fit, as most Master swimmers are, follow the same approach. Focus on one or two behaviors you see your stronger competitors do, such as work on technique, or incorporate more kicking, or commit to a speed workout once a week. Drink more water… . Your goal should simply try to be better than you used to be. Remember, age might decrease your performance time-wise, but we can always strive to be a better swimmer and person.
The Law of Diminishing Intent states that the longer you wait to do something, the greater the chance that you will never do it. You may be motivated after reading this and decide you need to start or stop doing something. Take action right away. It might be something as simple as buying a new swimsuit and pair of goggles. It is the first action step. It will give you the momentum to take the next action step, and the next. Follow the actions and behaviors the healthy people do regularly, and guess what, you will become healthy and fit too. You will have an incredible 2022, and a healthy and happy life.