1.They talk less about their goals and act more
This applies to every area of our lives. Each and every one of us has something we often talk about how we are going to do; how we want to achieve it, and normally, the more we talk about it, the less we act on achieving it. A while ago I read about a study that showed that the more we talk about something, the less likely we are to achieve it, because the mind interprets talking as doing. People who are in good shape don’t need to talk all the time about what they are going to do – they just do it, because it is a part of what makes them feel good, and their results are usually telling enough. Don’t talk about success. Allow your results to point you to it. People who are in good shape don’t need the whole world to know that they have planned to get up at 6 am tomorrow in order to get an hour extra to work out. This is everyday life to them, and not a great event that has to be announced to everybody.
2.They have realistic goals
Our goals in terms of weight loss and how many times we work out are often like most people’s goals to make a lot of money. A goal should be something that we perceive as achievable. When the mere thought of the goal makes us wonder how we are going to find the strength to achieve it, we are quite likely to quit fast. The more achievable the goal is, the more likely we are to feel satisfied with achieving it and the more likely this feeling is to motivate us to keep going. It is nice to have a long-term goal, but we must always visualize the short-term steps we have to take to achieve it. I can look at a mountain peak and think I want to be up there, but before that there is a long way I have to go and I had better have a clear idea of how to start in order to get there. Set a goal and then break it down into parts and dedicate yourselves to achieving each of them – step by step. This will help you build habits that you will then carry over to the subsequent parts and this way you will be able to achieve your goal in the end. If you have 20 kilograms to lose, don’t focus on the end goal. Focus on how much you can lose this week or next week instead of diminishing your accomplishment, because it seems small, compared to the number 20.
3.They focus not only on the momentary pleasure, but on its long-term consequences as well
What we choose now usually has repercussions on our future Selves. Postponing ourselves may not be doing us harm right now, but in the future we are going to feel the full magnitude of the consequences of our inertness – realizing that none of your clothes fit any more; that you get out of breath as soon as you have to climb one floor of stairs or that your body is beginning to fail you and illnesses come creeping into your life. This is not something unexpected, nor is it something that happens out of the blue. The unexpected requires preparation in advance – that of our past choices.
We must be able to discipline our minds and know when a desire is a whim and when it is a necessity. Very few of the desires of our mind are necessities. Most are a momentary urge that we don’t always have to satisfy. When it is cold outside, but we have decided to go to the gym, our mind will probably whisper to us to stay at home and read or watch movies. But will this choice support our goals? People who are in good shape have acquired the skill of asking these questions and finding answers that motivate them to act, when their minds drive them in another direction.
4.They don’t go with the flow
There is no such thing as a person who never goes through difficult times. There is no such thing as a person who always makes perfect choices. Everyone can lose direction and wander about for a while. People who are in good shape have acquired the skill to observe themselves and realize when they are going through a phase like that. The even allow themselves to stay there for a while, if they need to, all the time being perfectly aware that it is up to them to get themselves together and once again make some efforts in order to see their goal again and start heading towards it with determination. And as for other people – they often don’t even realize they are wandering and have lost focus. They deny their power to deal with the situation and voluntarily assume the role of victims instead, delegating responsibility to fate and their choices – to external circumstances. For people who are in good shape success and achievements are the result of a conscious effort and not of chance.
5.They are flexible
People who are in good shape have a flexible approach to prioritizing their day, training, eating. They realize that a person’s initial plan sometimes doesn’t work out and they are open to trying something different. Even when they achieve the expected results, they are willing to look for more ways and try something different. They realize that our actions should not be constant and that, as it is in life, those who are most adaptive achieve what they strive for.
As for others, they often repeat the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. They fall down, they muster up strength to get up and they go back, only to do the same thing again. The harder it gets, the more stubbornly they repeat the pattern. They seldom step outside their familiar framework and they usually hide in their comfort zone, simply reconciling themselves to the idea that they are not meant to achieve their goal.
6.They dedicate themselves to the process itself
People who are in good shape are patient. They know that the road that leads to their goal is not always the way we imagine it and that sometimes it takes more than one step before everything reveals itself to us. They know that sometimes all you need to do is not to stop, but to keep going – the rest reveals itself on its own. As for others, they are often impatient and quick to lose motivation, when the road is not the way they imagined. Even when they do make progress, unless that progress is exactly the way they imagined it would be, they lose enthusiasm, their motivation vanishes and they often give up as quickly as they started.
People who are in good shape see the significance not only of the end goal, but also of what they turn into the process itself. Their focus shifts away from merely looking a certain way, so they are able to see how their choices affect every area of their lives. In the process they shape not only their bodies, but their characters as well.
7.They have ways to measure their progress
People who are in good shape have a way to measure their progress. They don’t shy away from what gives them a clear idea of where they stand – how much they eat, how much they train, how much they weigh. They know that numbers don’t define them, but only serve as a guidance to them and provide feedback about what needs to be changed or kept. And as for others – they avoid knowing where they stand, because it discourages them. This way they fail to realize that they are interfering with their own progress even more, because when you know where you stand, even if you realize there is a long way ahead of you, at least you have an idea of whether you are getting closer to your goal. When you don’t know where you are headed, you often quit, while you’re on the right track, because you think that this is not at all the path that will take you to your goal.
8.They turn it into a lifestyle
People who are in good shape have turned every choice they make into a lifestyle and not into a short-term fix. Their diet, their way of eating, their attitude towards their bodies and their lives are not a temporary effort, intended to help them achieve a particular goal. They are a lifestyle, aimed not only at achieving, but also at maintaining what has been achieved. Because anyone can achieve a certain result, but the question is how many people can stay there. When being in good shape is a way of life, you don’t have to exert your willpower and struggle with yourself every time you make a choice. When this is a way of life, every choice is a natural result of what you believe in and what you are. Being in shape is not a whim – it is dedication and willingness to leave behind everything you used to do and a lot of what you believed in in order to be who you want to be.
9.They don’t look for excuses
People who are in good shape realize that when you want to achieve something, you have to give up something else. They know that what we dedicate our time to is what shapes us the way we are today. They realize that if they want change, they have to make it happen themselves and that everything looks difficult, before you start doing it.
As for others – they are afraid to start. They fear the unknown and they are afraid they will feel out of their depth. They resort to excuses not because they are an actual obstacle, but because they are the fence around their comfort zone that keeps them in a place where they don’t like being, but which they are familiar with.
Being in good shape is not difficult. Being in good shape is a matter of change – of identity. Anything else comes as a result of that.