Whenever people set out with goals to become healthier they are often driven by an incentive whether it is to have better skin, greater energy, to look a certain way, or sleep better. While those incentives may be fueled by a great amount of motivation, that motivation cannot be relied on every day to achieve those goals. Motivation comes and goes. There are many other factors that must be equally valued in order to achieve lasting results. Without sustainable habits, discipline, passion, and a healthy environment to chase such a goal, long-term results are nearly impossible to achieve. At the end of the day, people don’t intend on setting goals for the short term, they want lasting change. Let’s discuss 4 other factors that play into the lasting long-term achievement of goals.
1. Create Habits & Systems: ‘Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations’ (James Clear). People often forget the necessity of habits in regard to achieving long-term goals. As most know, becoming healthy (and staying healthy) is entirely dependent on your nutrition habits. Habits are often ignored because people are so short-sighted when they make decisions. Choosing the fruit over the french fries at lunch doesn’t automatically give you the body you want. In fact, most people realize that just one little decision like that has little to no bearing on the consumer’s health so they go for the french fries anyways. “I’ll eat healthy next meal,” they tell themselves. The issue is that each action we take is a vote for the person we would like to become (James Clear). We must value habits as much as we value the goal itself. The only way you achieve a long-term goal is by discovering sustainable habits that you are capable of adhering to over a long time. For example, if I’m adopting some new nutrition protocol, I ask myself “Can I do this every single day and enjoy it?” If someone goes on a plant-based diet (or carnivore diet) and loses 20 pounds but 4 months into it they are miserable emotionally & relationally, they are craving foods that aren’t a part of their protocol, and occasionally lose self-control, they are not practicing sustainable habits.
2. Engage in Discipline: Meaningful change never coexists with convenience. Jordan Peterson once said, “You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take.” Discipline for some is difficult and for others it is easy. Discipline goes hand in hand with passion. If you really care about the goal that you’ve set out to achieve, discipline will be much easier. This is not to excuse the fact that lasting & meaningful change is hard regardless. Discipline does not always have to be gritty and hard, the environment in which you surround yourself can make staying disciplined much easier (or much harder).
3. Enjoy What You Eat: One of the most important principles of creating a sustainable approach to lifelong nutritional and exercise is to focus on the foods and methods of exercise you most enjoy. Compliance is the Science as Stan Efferding once said. You are likely to go much further, create stronger habits, and enjoy life in a greater capacity when you design your health journey in the way that best fits your wants, needs, and lifestyle. You should never be eating foods you do not enjoy and you shouldn’t be doing exercises that you do not enjoy either. Careful though, I am not saying skip what is important (eating nutrient dense whole foods) or skipping out on important exercises that are needed for lifelong strength (ie. resistance training & or cardio). Im saying, if you enjoy eating fasting, fast. If you enjoy predominately animal foods, focus your diet around nutrient dense animal foods. If you enjoy eating primarily plant based, focus on whole unprocessed plant foods. If you prefer hiking over cycling, hike. If you enjoy running over swimming, run. If you enjoy lifting weights over another form of resistance training, lift weights. Again, create a lifestyle of health that you find most enjoyable while still obtaining necessary needs for human health is the key to enjoying the journey.
4. Put Yourself In Positive Environments: Personally, I find this factor to be the most important in regards to achieving optimal health. Let’s face it, at the end of the day cravings & processed food will beat your willpower. While it may be easy to avoid the chocolate chip cookies in the pantry tonight, tomorrow they are coming after you. That said, the environment in which you surround yourself will be working for your benefit or your detriment. Creating habits of eating healthy and staying disciplined are 1000% times easier when you surround yourself with the foods that you intend on using to achieve your goals. Hack your environment by adding or removing external factors that are for your benefit or detriment. For example, if my goal is to be able to do 30 pull ups at a single time 3 months from now, I’m going to install a pullup bar at my bedroom door instead of leaving the bar outside in the backyard. Why? Adopting the habit of busting out 10-15 pull-ups as I walk through my bedroom door 15x a day is going to be much more doable than going out of my way, walking out back (when it’s cold, dark, or hot), and doing the same 10-15 pull ups. The same goes for eating healthy. Don’t set out to go on a whole foods Paleo diet (meat, fruits, & vegetables) and then leave the cereal, cookies, chips in the back of the pantry. It just makes achieving the goal that much harder when the temptation is present or lacking (in the case of the pull-up example).