It’s not uncommon to start an exercise program, eating regime (aka diet) or changing a habit with extreme gusto. If you’re anything like me, you’ll research what you plan to do by reading blog posts, articles, books and watching videos on YouTube.

You can spend hours and hours a day preparing for the change.

Take a new eating regime. You do your research, you clear out the unhealthy foods from your kitchen, you buy the gadgets, you do the grocery shopping and now you’re ready. You say, “This time will be different. This time, I’m sticking with it.”

Day one is great. You’re pumped. You follow your protocol to the letter. Day two, same thing. Day three, not so much. You get busy, distracted, caught up.

By day four or five¬† you’re telling yourself, “Well, I really didn’t want to do this anyway. It’s too much work.”

One more time, you gave up.

Why is this? Actually, there are a number of reasons.

  1. Set unrealistic expectations.
  2. Too much, too soon.
  3. No support system.
  4. No change of environment.
  5. The reason for the change is superficial.
  6. Not determining long term benefits.

Unrealistic Expectations

To be successful at anything, you absolutely must set realistic expectations. Regardless of what you want to change, you must do so in incremental degrees.

If someone is new to business and they say, “I want to make a million dollars my first year,” they are likely to fail. Why? Because they don’t have the infrastructure in place.

Let’s say someone wants to run a marathon next month, but they’ve not run a day in their life. Huge set up for failure. Training for a marathon takes time, discipline, and more than a month to prepare for.

What about losing weight? If you say, “I want to drop 30 pounds in 30 days,” you may achieve this, but there’s a great chance you will gain all the weight back and more.

Too much, too soon

Actually, if you look at everything in the previous point, this covers the too much, too soon.

Setting lofty goals is great, but being realistic in the setting of your goals, and what you are really capable of is equally important.

Avoid setting yourself up for injury or doing things that are so taxing on your body, you end up giving up do to injury or illness.

No Support System

Who you surround yourself with can be the difference between success and failure. A good support system allows you to weather the tough times.

In all 12 step programs, one of the first things people are taught is to change their playmates. What this simply means is this; if you are in AA (alcoholics anonymous) quit hanging out with people in bars and find new environments that support your goals of not drinking.

Regardless of what you want to accomplish, have a group of people you can reach out to share your victories and during times where you feel like giving up on your goals.

No change in environment

As stated in the previous point, you must change your environment. If your goal is to get in shape, hanging out at the local pizza parlor is not the right environment to achieve your outcome.

Rather, find running parks, bike paths, hiking trails or anything that supports your goals.

There’s no magic to this. It’s simply common sense.

Superficial reasons

“I want to look great for my high school reunion.”

Not a bad goal to have, but if all you want to do is look good for one event, it’s likely you will go right back to old behaviors when the event is over.

When I gave up smoking 24 years ago, it had nothing to do with one event. It had everything to do with wanting to live a long, healthy life.

When I was 40, I had two very strong warnings that if I didn’t make a change, I was setting myself up for some major health issues.

The warnings were scary enough for me to make a life altering decision to give up smoking for good…. one day at a time.

It’s the same with alcohol. When my life spun out of control due to alcohol, I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I wanted a quality of life I could only have if I abstained completely. That was over 34 years ago. My life is night and day from what it used to be… one day at a time.

Your reasons for changing have to be so compelling that you are willing to do whatever it takes to stay the course.

No long-term benefit

Again, as mentioned in the previous point, if you don’t have long-term benefit, you will likely give up. Rather than think in terms of what you are giving up, think in terms of what you will gain.

You’ll gain a quality of life that goes beyond anything you currently know. You’ll gain higher self-esteem. You’ll gain the knowledge that when you put your mind to something, make the commitment and take daily action, virtually anything is possible.

As we move close to the end of the year and the start of a New Year, what is it you want to change? Are you willing to do what needs to be done to make that change? Are you willing to start now to prepare for the change? Are you willing to go the distance?