How to Create Lasting Change

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Want to change your life?  Here’s how.

As coaches, we implicitly believe in the power of change.  We believe that you can continue to grow and learn throughout your life – and that the process of growth, in and of itself, is crucial to living a fulfilled and empowered life.

We also know that change is freaking hard. There are so many barriers thrown up at any given moment – our environment, peers, previous habits, mindset, and self-belief are some crucial ones, just to name a few. You may at times feel like change is out of reach. And honestly, we’ve all felt that at some point in time. I’ve struggled with a recurring lower back injury since high school. I’ve been through the lows, the times where it felt like I would never make progress and that this pain was my new reality. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! With strategic choices and a little bit of elbow grease, we can make huge amounts of progress. Let us clear the way for you with these four concepts for building lasting change.

Build the essential skills

Once we establish someone’s goals and vision, our next step is to ask this question: what are the essential skills that people who are successful in this area have? Let’s take maintaining a healthy weight as an example. They probably eat more slowly than their counterparts, eat to 80% full instead of overstuffed, cook more food at home than not, and have an idea of how to build their plate to meet their nutrient needs. Those are all key skills that need to be developed individually instead of all at once. We often only see the end result (WHAT someone eats) instead of all the other steps that go into the process. And we haven’t even tackled meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, storing food, etc.!

Another mistake we often make is to hyper focus on only one type of skill. So, in our above example, someone might obsess over food selection and choices, while not paying attention to the role that stress, sleep, movement, and community support all play in their health and fitness.

Takeaway: Lasting change is a process of building skill sets. Take some time to deconstruct which skills will help you reach your goals. Pay special attention to seemingly simple skills, like cooking – can we break these down even further into smaller chunks? What other types of skills (like sleep, stress management, etc.) are crucial?

Adopt a playful mindset

If there’s anything I can guarantee you, it’s when you try to make a change, you will make mistakes. It won’t go perfectly. And that’s perfectly OK. In fact, it’s essential.

The key to change is learning, and learning happens best when we adapt to mistakes made.  How we respond to making mistakes is critical. We encourage our clients to adopt a playful mindset when tackling any goal.

Play allows us to tinker. To explore, fail, and pick a new path. Most of all, play allows us to find our own way, and not be burdened by what worked for someone else.

Play is also voluntary and internally driven! This is a critical point. Often, the desire to change is driven by OUTSIDE forces. You want to change because you worry what other people think of you, or you want someone else to act differently towards you. It’s okay, we’ve all been there.  This mindset is called an external locus of control. In other words, other people have the power to determine what you want to do and if you are successful. As much as we might wish it were different, we can’t control what other people think or how they act. We can only work on ourselves. Play, on the other hand, is internally driven, and will help you develop an “internal locus of control.” You change because YOU want to, and because of what it will allow YOU to accomplish. Research clearly shows that those with an internal locus of control are more likely to be successful achieving their goals.

Takeaway: Adopt a playful mindset! Expect failures, embrace them, and adapt. Gamify your experience to make it more fun and embrace YOUR way.

Skin in the game

One of the biggest reasons for the success of our clients and athletes is this: they have skin in the game. Skin in the game means there are real consequences for their actions. For our athletes, they know that performance in their sport is at stake. They are committed to the process of getting better. For our adult exercisers and athletes, quality of life, health, and other goals are a part of the commitment. If someone doesn’t feel that their health or quality of life will really be affected by missing their session, they won’t develop the same skills and habits as those that place a high value on that time.

Making a substantial financial commitment to the change process is also important. This is the secret code within any change effort. For whatever reason, if something is free, we tend to value it LESS. Look at Apple computers versus PCs. For all intents and purposes, PCs give a much better value for the dollar. However, people don’t talk about their PCs like they talk about their MacBooks and iPhones. When you buy into something, you WANT to get your value out of it, and you make stuff happen. We often have clients tell us that they show up and work hard BECAUSE they pay for it. If not, they wouldn’t make the extra effort to get in the gym and wouldn’t take it as seriously. I recently hired my own coach to help me increase flexibility and strength through my lower back. Do I know what I need to do to get better? Yes. But I wasn’t committing to the process as much as I wanted to. Paying for a coach gave me extra incentive to focus on the process. Coaches do some other really awesome stuff too (more on that below).

Takeaway: Ask yourself, “in what ways do I have skin in the game when it relates to this goal?” Find your reasons to commit to change, and invest in that change. It will make all the difference.

Find a coach

The best thing you can do for yourself if you want to make a big change is to find a coach.  When I want to make a change, I find a coach.  Coaches need coaches. We all need coaches.  

Coaches will help you with all the points mentioned above. They can help you deconstruct the skill set needed, adopt a playful mindset, and create skin in the game. They’ll also speed up the process of learning by helping you focus on the right information, in the right order, at the right time, rather than the ALL THE INFORMATION EVER. When making a change, we often have too many options, information, and choices. This creates paralysis by analysis. We spend time worrying about if what we’re doing is the best way, or the right way. We think a lot but act very little. Coaches can take this burden off of you, provide a roadmap, and guide you through the process.

Most importantly, coaches provide accountability and a feedback loop. Did you actually do what you said you were going to do? Is it working? If not, let’s make this adjustment. Rinse and repeat.

Finding a coach that will fit you is important. Do they genuinely care about their clients? Are they knowledgeable in their field? Do they have a plan for how to help you? Do you feel comfortable working with them? Finding a good fit will be crucial to long-term success.

Some questions you can ask your coach:

  1. What are the major mistakes that people make who try to tackle this goal?
  2. Have you had success with someone in my position?
  3. What are the progressive steps to achieving my goal?

Takeaway: Find a coach. Find a good one.

So there you have it, my four keys to long-term success and change. If these points resonated with you, and you want to overhaul or refine your nutrition, ask us about our partnership with Precision Nutrition. We have a one-year program that will build essential skills, nurture a playful mindset, create skin in the game and coach you through the process of achieving your goals.

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