Successful Advice on Achieving Your Goals

Written by Heather Kim

When it comes to getting what you want, deprivation is the fastest route to failure. John Peterson reached his goals of losing 20 pounds, having energy for his children and increasing his strength and muscle mass. Here's a 6-part plan on how he did it and you can too!  

This could successfully apply to anything you want to achieve in life!

1.  Set Specific Goals

Write down the things that will move you. Be detailed. List as many reasons as you can think of, then highlight the two or three you feel most strongly about. Don't worry about the rest.

Peterson identified three solid reasons for a comprehensive diet-exercise program.  One, he wanted to be a fit and energetic parent for his toddler son.  Two, he hoped to reduce the annoying aches and pains of a sedentary lifestyle, which created a personal challenge to middle age.  Three, he wanted to restore the pride he once felt sporting a 32-inch waist.

"There was a bit of ego in there with all the rest," he says. "Everytime I put on my 32-inch pants and they were tight, it was reminder to me that I wanted things to be the way they were."

2. Visualize the change in as much detail as possible.

By projecting a clear picture of the new your onto the screen of your imagination, you are giving yourself the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick.

Peterson had the shirtless "before" picture of himself in hand, but the "after" picture only in his mind.  Then, after 12 weeks, he took a new photo of himself.  He made a habit of keeping both snapshots nearby for instant motivation. He'd show his friends the pictures charting his progress and get an even bigger boost.

3. Identify the Habits that Hold You Back.

Think about those moments in which you thwart your goals or act against your better judgment, and write them down.  For example, maybe you arrive home from work, kick off your shoes and put on your slippers, knowing that such a decisive act cancels out any possibility of jumping on the Nordic Track.

Peterson's biggest problem was that when he was around food, he was tempted to overeat. "I would grab it if it was in my field of vision," he admits. He had to learn that eating should be a premeditated act, not an automatic reaction.

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When you take away a bad habit, you leave a void.  The best thing to do is fill the void with positive substitutes, says Kathleen Burton, who works extensively with substance abusers.

Peterson says he desparately needed to create structure where none existed.  He learned to curb his overeating habit by taking mini-meals throughout the day.  He also set up different  workouts every day.  If I step away from the routines, I don't stray as wildly as I would have without specific habits," he says. "Most of what I do is internalized."

 5. Document Step by Step Improvement.

If the mirror doesn't lie, neither do your written accomplishments on a piece of paper.  Over time, you may not need to write everything down, but now you want to see in black and white how well you've done and how well you are advancing.

"Documenting my fitness routine was just another way of making myself conscious while I was in the process of creating new routines," says Peterson.

Regardless of your goals, become your own
self-improvement record keeper. One caveat: Don't overdo the note taking. Just jot down the relevant numbers: 2 sets, curls, 10 pounds, etc.

6. Review What Your Are Doing in the Morning and at Night
The morning and nighttime reviews are like bookends to your day, providing psychological support. If your self-improvement kick is really important to you, you'll benefit from setting the tone first thing and providing closure last thing.

When you review your program, don't swamp yourself. Just take a few minutes. You don't want it to become a chore. This ritual should motivate, not oppress.

Don't limit your review to self-criticism for all of the things you didn't do. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments. Every weight loss and fitness program must be taken one day at a time.

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