“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
In a survey by NPR and The Marist Poll in November and December of 2019, 44 percent of 1,075 American adults said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution. Among them, 13 percent decided to exercise more, making it the most common resolution. Related ambitions to lose weight and eat better ranked third and fourth, respectively. Together, they’re goals for almost a third of all resolution makers.
Lofty ambitions are notoriously hard to keep. The hard truth about how our determination peaks and wavers—and how many of us will inevitably fall off the wagon—is in the data. Google Trends shows that searches for topics related to exercise and weight loss spike right around January 1 each year. Another spike before bikini season.
In a 2017 survey of nearly 6,400 fitness clubs in the U.S., the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association found that 10.8 percent of all gym membership sales in 2016 took place in January, proportionally more than any other month that year.
I have worked out every day since 1/1/2000. I don’t say that to impress you. I say it to impress upon you that I am a gym rat. My fellow gym rats frown as the New Year approaches. Only days after every new year, we will endure 45-60 days of fighting for time on bikes, treadmills, and other machines as new members attempt to reboot their workout regiment and resolutions. The good news is that the newbies will be exiting as if on cue before the end of February. The pain of paying for a membership they don’t use is not enough incentive to prioritize gym time.
What does it take to keep a promise to yourself? You must change your mind. If you can change your mind, you can change your life. Attitudes are the mirror reflection of our mind’s eye. Changing an attitude IS changing your mind as attitudes are our evaluations or color commentary of our world. Our attitudes tell us what we can and cannot do. I bet everyone understands what a bad attitude looks like.
Some attitudes are more important than others because they are more valuable to us and thus impact our daily lives. The importance of an attitude, assessed by how quickly it comes to mind, is known as attitude strength. Strong attitudes are essential; we hold them confidently, do not change them very much, and use them frequently to guide our actions.
What we think and feel in a given situation is shaped by our past experiences. Strong attitudes are fostered from experience. Constructing a strong attitude that functionally serves us takes time. New Year’s resolutions fail by not giving your attitude time to take shape and become strong and foundational in your life. Distractions, obstacles, and the absence of willpower intervene before the attitude can take hold. Quitting in the face of challenges is an attitude too.
What is the blueprint for a strong attitude? Let’s use “working out” as an example because I get asked about “how to be disciplined” daily.
- Know more, do better. Be a student of the change you want to see in your life. Read, ask questions and observe others.
- Change requires vision, strategy, persistence & flexibility. See your “future self” changed. Make a plan of action. Be persistent and flexible using trial and error as you fight through distractions, obstacles, and pain.
- The slower is better—baby steps with your new routine. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your new attitude and body. To see results in a workout routine, give yourself 120 days of consistent “every day” effort to start to see changes in your body’s composition.
- Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. If you want to achieve something meaningful in life, there is no free lunch. It takes between 5,000-10,000 hours of practice to master something.
- Measure everything. Think of yourself as a scientist; your mind and body are the laboratories. Record everything you do in furtherance of your goals: the good, the bad, and the in-between.
- Celebrate the small successes. Improvement and success feed your self-esteem. With improved self-esteem, your new attitude takes root. Your “ain’t nothing going to stop me” attitude stokes your grander vision into an upward spiral of competence. Oh, and people will notice. Get ready for a wave of praise coming your way.
The experience of creating change will produce an attitude of competence. Life’s imperfections and challenges will roll off your back. Once you shape your body and mind, nothing is impossible. You have drafted your personal blueprint for success and attitude change to be used over and over again.
Until next time. Travel safe.