You have had enough. You are ready to make a change. The weeks, months, or, possibly, years of being lazy and saying yes to anything edible have caught up to you. Finally, you are realizing that you are limiting your quality of living. Or, maybe, you are noticing yourself in the mirror and finding that you can not bear the sight any longer. So you make a decision: you are going to start going to the gym. Great idea. But what exactly are you going to do when you get there?
I had the opportunity to speak to over 300 young basketball players this past month about making positive choices on a consistent basis over a period of time in order to reach a goal. A common goal for them, seeing how it was basketball camp, was to become a better basketball player. I asked them some things that would help them improve as players. The top answer was to go to the gym every day.
If you’re answer to finding success is “going to the gym”, then you are fooling yourself. Because if that’s the case, once you arrive at the gym, you’re done for the day. Going to the gym was what you needed to do to improve, and you just did it. When I was a teen, I thought I was dedicated because I would spend more than 5 hours per day at the local athletic club. I don't think I spent one minute actually improving on anything. In fact, I would spend at least 2 hours per day in the lobby watching TV with my friends.
The key to improvement and reaching your goals lies in the answer to the question: What are you going to do when you get there?
We need a plan to reach our destination. If you are planning on driving to Disneyland, you’re directions aren’t as simple as “I’m going to get in the car.” We get directions that show us which turns to take and which roads to stay on so that when we get in the car, we can be successful on reaching the ultimate destination. If our directions are not clear, we get lost and have to re-route our trip.
If you make the decision that you are going to start going to the gym on a consistent basis, you are making a positive decision. It will not, however, guarantee that you will achieve what you want to achieve. A plan of what steps you will take once you get to the gym is a necessity.
Here is a roadmap you can use to achieve your goals:
1. What is your destination?
What exactly are you trying to achieve? Specifics are key. By saying you want to “be in better shape” or “lose a few pounds”, you are not setting yourself up to be successful. Define what being in better shape is, and make it measurable so you can track your progress.
2. Where are you starting from?
Not only your starting point, but where have you been? Is anything familiar to you? Have you tried to reach that destination before? If you have, and you did not reach the results you expected, find out what you can do differently. If you have not tried before, then determine what your starting point is. This will help you draw the map.
3. What roads do you need to take?
Make sure that what you are doing is productive to your ultimate outcome. Many of the young basketball players wanted to be better shooters. Playing pick-up games for 2 hours is probably not their answer to being a better shooter. They need repetition shooting the ball with correct form. If you have a goal of bench pressing your body weight, running three miles per day does not correlate to what you want to achieve. Make your path as direct as possible.
4. Who can help you get there?
We don’t always have the answers for what we want to achieve (although, sometimes we like to think we do). If you are hoping for results that you have never got before, you will need help. Whether that means hiring a personal trainer, consulting with a nutrition coach, or spending more time around your one friend who does not go to Buffalo Wild Wings every night, your influences are just as important as the path you take. Surround yourself with the right people.
5. Why are you going there?
If you do not have a reason why, there is not going to be a will.