In the last post we redefined the road to success and what it really looks like. You learned that some choices are likely to set you up for failure whereas others are more likely to lead to achieving your goal. However, being successful in reaching your health, fitness, or weight loss goals takes more than just selecting the right road to travel. Once you have turned onto the road to success, there are still many potholes that must be avoided along the way!
After selecting the correct route – you can’t simply turn on cruise control and expect to show up at your destination without any further effort. There aren’t any self driving cars on the road to success either- you’re going to have to drive that car on your own!
Reaching your goal is all about execution. So here are a few tips on how to navigate the road to success to ensure that you arrive safely at your destination. After selecting the correct road to travel:
- Regularly check your map to make sure you’re still headed the right direction and haven’t lost your way.
- Be fully alert during your drive in order to avoid potholes which could delay or prevent your arrival at your destination.
- When you do hit the inevitable potholes do damage control so that you can continue with your trip.
- If you run into roadblocks, take the detour to arrive at your final destination.
Step 1: Check Your Map – Often!
The days of maps seem to be long gone now that phones and cars are equipped with GPS. But no matter the method, taking a road trip involves regularly checking that you’re headed in the right direction – that you haven’t taken a wrong turn or gotten lost along the way.
When adopting a new habit, you should also regularly check that you haven’t gotten off track. This is called self-monitoring. Self monitoring is any activity that makes you more aware of your actions.
For example, If your goal is to eat better in order to lose weight, how do you make sure you’re staying the course? How do you know that the choices you are making are leading you towards where you want to go?
Self-monitoring for weight loss might include:
- Weighing yourself regularly to make sure your weight is decreasing rather than increasing.
- Taking before photos and following up with progress photos every 4-6 weeks.
- Using a food scale or measuring cups to keep track of your serving sizes.
- Tracking the number of calories you eat each day with an app or a food journal.
All of these strategies will help to make sure that your daily actions are leading you towards your ultimate goal!
Step 2: Stay Alert While Driving
While behind the wheel of a car, a driver must always remain alert and avoid distractions in order in order to safely navigate potholes and any other number of obstacles.
When making a behavior change, it is also important to stay alert and avoid distractions so that you don’t run into problems down the road. Being fully aware of what is going on in the moment is called mindfulness.
Be Aware of Your Mindset
When forming a new habit, it is especially important to be mindful of your thoughts (mindset). Letting too much negativity creep into your thoughts can hurt your confidence and cause you to put less effort towards your goal.
Specifically, be on the lookout for the fixed mindset. Each time you recognize yourself having a fixed mindset thought (for example “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never be as good as him.” etc.), replace it with a more growth minded one instead.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your “Why”
It is also important to remember WHY you wanted to make a change in the first place. When things get tough, it is easy to lose sight of your initial motivation for making a change.
Many people find it helpful to write down their “why” (the reason why they wanted to lose weight, or exercise more, or start eating healthier etc.) and put it somewhere they will see it regularly, such as: on their bathroom mirror, on their computer at work, or to write it on their schedule each day.
Keeping a growth mindset and reminding yourself why you wanted to make a change in the first place will help you to avoid straying from the road to success when the it gets bumpy, or you begin to feel tired.
Step 3: When You Hit a Pothole, Do Damage Control to Continue Your Trip
A long stretch of road is bound to have some potholes. Many potholes can be avoided with good planning, but you are bound to hit one every now and again. So what should you do when you do hit a pothole?
Forgive Yourself! (Self-compassion)
The first thing to do when you hit a pothole (have a slip-up), is to forgive yourself. No really! Don’t beat yourself up too much. Remember that behavior change isn’t easy, and that success and new habits take practice!
Rather than dwelling on the mistakes you made, learn from them, and allow yourself to move on!
Slip-ups just mean you need to put a little more effort into your change.
Avoid All-or-Nothing Thinking
After you forgive yourself, the next step to dealing with a slip-up is to recognize that success in a new habit is not all-or-nothing. People who tend to get stuck in the all-or-none thinking trap often give up after a small slip-up. For example, if they can’t resist a donut in their morning work meeting, they may consider the whole day a failure and decide they might as well eat whatever they want.
When you do have a slip up, remember: failure is not black and white. If you slip-up, get back on the horse right away instead of quitting.
Step 4: If Necessary, Reroute to Avoid Roadblocks
When taking a road trip, potholes are minor inconveniences which can usually be avoided with a little planning. However, roadblocks are a little more serious.
If you were taking a road trip and the road (or a portion of it) is blocked off, you wouldn’t turn back and go home, or pick another destination, would you? No! You would simply take the detour, an alternate route, to get to where you want to go.
Similarly, if you find that the plan you laid out to achieve your goal isn’t going to get you there – don’t quit, don’t change your goal, just take an alternate route.
This strategy for dealing with potential roadblocks is called coping planning. Coping planning is a method that can be used to come up with back-up plans to get around your roadblocks.
Coping Planning has 4 Steps:
- Identify your roadblock (or potential roablocks). What is (or could) get in the way of you achieving your goal?
- Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to overcome this roadblock.
- Decide which solution seems the most practical (number them from 1 on, with #1 being the option you’d like to try first).
- Try your solution – if it works, great! If it doesn’t, start over at step 2.
For example, pretend the goal was to go to a spin class at the gym after work today.
HINT: This is a great method to reroute if you find that your original plan will not work, but it can also be used in advance to avoid potholes all together! For example, if you anticipate that a babysitter cancelling or having to work late etc. could prevent you from achieving your goals – come up with back up plans for these situations in advance. That way when the problem does arise, you’ll already know what to do!
Turning onto the road to success is just the start to your journey. If you want to reach your health or fitness goals remember to:
- Check your map often to make sure you are still headed in the right direction.
- Use self-monitoring strategies to make sure your actions are getting you closer to your goal.
- Stay alert while driving to avoid accidents.
- Be aware of any fixed mindset thoughts and continually remind yourself WHY you wanted to make a change in the first place.
- If you do hit a pothole, do damage control so you can continue your trip.
- Remember that slip-ups happen and failure is not black and white. Learn from your mistakes and don’t give up!
- If necessary, reroute your trip to avoid roadblocks.
- If your original plan isn’t getting you closer to your goal, find one that will!