Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How To Keep Your Resolutions

Although it isn't quite 2015 it's already time to be thinking about what you want to do different and better in the New Year. It's time to start thinking about our resolutions! We've all tried some New Year resolutions in the past and I don't know the statistics, but I know most of us don't keep up with them. Why is that? Are we setting unreasonable goals or do we end up losing focus and motivation?

I know many of you haven't even made up your resolutions for the New Year. So you better get on that. This post will not only give you some ideas, but will also give you some tips on keeping your resolutions.

The end of the holidays and the start of the New Year is a great time to make a change. We can start with a clean slate so to speak. Most of us ate poorly and too much, and also didn't get enough exercise over the holidays and are motivated to make a change. We can set outcome goals for the New Year just like we do in squash. For example, you want to lose a certain amount of weight, be able to do so many pushups. For squash we may want to move up a level or a spot on our league team. We may want to get up to a certain ranking position. Whatever our outcome goals are, we have to remember that it's our process goals that get us there.

Process and outcome goals are both important. If we have a bad day at the gym or on court we have to keep our focus on the long term goals and not get too upset about a poor performance. If you get down after missing a session or two or having a bad loss it's easy to think you can't do this and give up on your resolutions and goals altogether. It takes a lot of perseverance to stick to your resolutions through think and thin. This is the main reason why so many people inevitably don't stick with their New Year's resolutions.

On top of not having process goals and a mapped out plan to achieve your outcome goals, many people also don't set an ending to their goals. Yes, you want to get stronger, but how strong? And when do you want to be this strong by? I always like having a big tournament as my focus. Instead of just working away at your goals with no foreseeable end in sight, try and set a specific date for your resolution. This will keep you more focused and working hard up until that time.

When someone tries to set a resolution about changing their diet, what they eat or drink or to quit smoking these again often fail. How much joy do you get from withholding from this habit to engaging in it? This is a tough thing to deal with each day. One day you will likely be unhappy or having a bad day and then your resolution is gone. If you are trying to make a major life changing resolution you'll need to prepare for tough days. Put up some pictures or encouraging statements around your house and the office. Use a reward system for each day or week you stick with your resolution. As time goes by it should become easier. But this is slightly off the topic of today, so let's move on.

What I want to discuss today is how you can improve your chances of sticking with your resolutions. In particular squash and training resolutions. There are a number of ways to improve your odds of sticking with your new set of goals. Here's a few.

1) Set up a workout/squash partner with daily or weekly times. It i very challenging to keep up a routine on your own. If you find a workout partner you will be more accountable and will also have someone to push you when you're not as motivated that day.

2) Set up a weekly session with a personal trainer or squash coach. Again this will hold you accountable and they will ensure you are pushed. You don't want to waste their time or your money. A trainer and coach can also help you set up a plan to help you achieve the goals you have set. So share them and they will be a big help on your journey.

3) Join a weekly fitness class. This is another way to be more accountable. Many people think they can do everything their own. We are use to doing this as squash players. But it's much easier if you have a set time and day to do it and a group to do it with. Most of us work harder if we have the eye of an instructor on us and other people working hard all around us. There are many classes around these days so find one that you like.

4) Pick a finishing time for your goals. You don't need to do the same type of training all year round. Pick a tournament a few months away or a big occasion (like a wedding) that you want to achieve your goals by. As I mention above, this will help keep you focused, working hard and on track. You will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel on those tough days.

5) Set reasonable and challenging goals. Some people try and do too much or set too many goals. If you pick 1 or 2 important goals and focus on them you will be more likely to achieve them. They must be challenging and you should believe that if you work hard you can achieve them.

6) Pace yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day! You need to have balance in life. The gyms and squash courts will be packed at the beginning or January. Everyone will be out in full force working extremely hard. Many will overdo it. They will get injured, sick or fatigued. You need to slowly build up how much and hard you train. This is why a coach or personal trainer are so helpful to achieving your goals. I like to think of lacing yourself in numbers. If you added just 1x1 hour solo hitting to your training program what would that really do? If you average hitting 1 ball per second, that's 3,600 in an hour. If you keep that up for a year it's 187,200. You can see how something that seems like a small change can have a major impact on your squash game over time. Start small and build up and you'll get results.

7) Set short term goals building up to your long term goals. Have a set goal for the end of each week or month. These small improvements add up over time. It's a gradual process. Don't be discouraged by a small gain. With perseverance great strides can be made possible.

8) Start a daily workout journal and monitor your progress. This can be a hand written one or an online one. The new iPhones have step counters on them and you can keep track of your running and cycling mileage. Keep track of your progress with an exercise log so you can see how much you've improved over time.

9) Make time for yourself. The biggest excuse for not getting enough exercise if the lack of time. There is always time. It may mean having to give up a half hour of your Netflix watching each night. You may have to get up early and do something before work. When you get into a routine it becomes manageable. If you can find a friend to do training with this will improve adherence. A lack of time is never a valid excuse.

10) Proper nutrition. This gives you the fuel to be more active on a daily basis. Try eating less sugar and snacks and you will feel better when you workout.

I feel many people don't keep their resolutions because they don't enjoy eating healthy food or being active. Maybe you just haven't found the right type of healthy food or exercise that you enjoy. Who didn't like playing sports as a kid? Cross training doesn't have to be boring. There are spin classes, boot camps, trx, pilates, and yoga classes, running clinics, pick up basketball and hockey games. Find something that you enjoy and if you can find someone to go with even better. Obviously if you're reading this you're likely already a squash player, but I believe that every squash player would benefit from some cross training. Maybe you're the type of person that likes change and trying a new class each week will suit you best. Whatever it is, once you get into your routine you will eventually start feeling better and have more energy. You will get to a point where you will not enjoy inactive days.

I'd love to hear what your resolutions are. I've heard that if you share your goals with people you are more likely to stick to them. So let's hear them!

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