I had a neighbor who was fat. For years he kept on saying that he really wanted to lose weight, especially since his wife was very attractive and he felt he should at least try to look better for her. He was also sad when his weight affected his outings with his young and energetic kids. And he wasn’t just saying it. This guy was really sad and upset about it. It felt like he was starting a diet every other week. One day, after coming back from vacation, I saw him running and he had about 30 kilos less on his body. I was in absolute shock. My vacation was long but considering that for years he had tried to lose weight I felt that no vacation was long enough to show those types of results. I stopped him to ask him what happened. He didn’t stop and signed with his hands we’d talk later.
Later that day he called me up and explained that the doctor found that if he didn’t immediately and drastically lose weight he would be dead very soon. Then came the questions of how. I mean, for fear of repeating myself, for years this guy had been trying to lose weight so it’s not as though this was new.
What changed was his perspective
The difference was that now he was afraid. Before he was only “motivated” but now he was legitimately afraid he wouldn’t get to see his kids growing up. That, for him, was a big kick in the behind. Towards the end of the conversation, I asked him why he didn’t stop to speak with me earlier when I saw him outside. And that’s when he told me his secret.
The secret ingredient to success – consistency
He explained that for years he had been starting various diets and workouts, and he’s a smart guy so we’re not talking about the Twinkie diet or something similar, but that his problem had always been staying on track. Each time something would happen, whether it be that someone else put sugar in his coffee or there was an event where they would go out so he’d eat more than usual. After that, it’s not that he felt bad and started to binge but he would simply say that it’s “not that bad”. Which is true! In the grand scheme of overall calories, it’s not a little extra once in a while that makes the difference.
His problem was that because it “wasn’t that bad”, he would allow himself also the next day, and then the next meal, and then it was every meal of every day with a little extra. A few days later, he would realize there was a problem and he would start his little diet routine all over. So this time, until his bad habits were kicked and he had good habits ingrained, he would not allow himself to get on the edge of the slippery slope since one little centimeter too far on the slope and he knew he would slip and slide all the way to the bottom.
So when I caught him running outside, he wouldn’t stop since if he did he might just stop for the day and say “it’s not too bad, I’ll catch up tomorrow” and from there he might completely lose the habits he was still working on building up.
Do you need more motivation?
Why am I sharing this with you today? When I looked at my Twitter feed this morning, it was full of motivational quotes. One of the entities I follow even wrote an article with 100 motivational quotes. But as one of my teachers used to tell me:
you don’t need motivation you need a kick in the a**!
We all have the motivation already and though for most of us our objectives don’t have a downside of near death, so we can’t use that as our motivation, it doesn’t mean we have no motivation. We all want a better life, whatever that means for you. The problem is not in our desire, it’s in our habits.
In January, gym memberships go up 300%. That’s the average every year compared to other months. And yet, a month or two later you will see just as many people in the gym as the year before. Why? Because people get all hyped up on “motivation” but forget to put a plan in place for those days when you don’t feel like it. And those are the days that matter the most ultimately.
I’m not going to send you off with a whole bunch of motivational quotes for the New Year. I’m just going to tell you that you should make a plan of action to reach your goals and then work on the daily habits that will get you there.
Because you don’t need more motivation, you need consistency.