If there’s one constant in the health-and-wellness industry, it’s the struggle that many people have staying committed to their goals. By the time you read this letter, for example, more than three-quarters of the population will have given up on their New Year’s resolutions.
And right about now, with spring just around the corner, millions of people are trying to figure out how to get back on track with those goals or are abandoning them in favor of new ones.
I’ve witnessed this phenomenon countless times over the years, though it’s not something I personally relate to very well; reaching goals related to my health, fitness, career, or similar areas of my life is rarely a problem for me.
This is not to imply that I’m stronger willed or more capable than others — I’m not. Progress in the face of challenges is hard for all of us.
What I’ve discovered about myself, though — through lots of reflection on my life choices, behaviors, and experiences — is that what keeps me going is one key personality trait: tenacity. That, and the fact that I hate to lose more than I love to win.
When I set my mind on something, I don’t quit until it’s accomplished, even when it requires multiple attempts or takes different paths than I anticipated.
This characteristic can be both good and bad. As a kid, for instance, I was often criticized for being a bad loser. Whenever I’d hear this, I’d think, But why would I want to be a good loser?
I’m still reluctant to accept defeat today — though, hopefully, I’m a better sport than when I was young.
The upside is that, through trial and error, and usually a lot of iteration, I’ve ultimately achieved my biggest objectives. I simply don’t stop until I find a way forward.
This isn’t to say that you, too, have to be tenacious in the pursuit of your goals — though even a little bit of tenacity can’t hurt. It is to suggest, however, that you look deep inside to explore and pinpoint what drives your ambitions. Identifying your unique characteristics and motivators will help you keep going when you’re ready to give up.
With this information, you can create a belief system about yourself and your abilities so when you set your mind to something, you have no doubt you can make it happen — one way or another.
Because there are potentially significant ramifications if you stop trusting yourself and start accepting defeat: You can begin to make a habit out of setting goals; then stalling out, losing, or failing; and ultimately giving up. You can begin to believe that failure is inevitable.
You might also start doing something that I term “hopeless trying”: putting in effort without truly believing that you’re going to succeed. Stuck in this mindset, you can end up in a perpetual cycle of self-defeat.
But there’s a world of difference between hopeless trying and trusting that you can achieve your desired outcomes. When I think about how I’ve worked toward my most passionate ambitions — which have also been my most challenging — it was never a matter of if, but when.
So my challenge for you is to notice how you’ve been approaching your goals. If you’ve stayed on track, congratulations! If you’re struggling, what are the roadblocks? Are there strategies and tactics you haven’t yet tried? Are there resources or support systems you can tap into?
What is your mindset as you reflect on your current progress? What happens if you shift your thinking from if to when? What shifts can you make to move from a state of hopeless trying to hopeful trying? How can you let go of self-doubt and instead channel self-confidence?
Take some time to write down what you uncover in this reflection. When you do, I think you’ll discover that you have it in you to make whatever you dream of achieving into a reality. There’s no time like the present to recommit, go all in, and believe in yourself.