Challenge Yourself!

There all kinds of “Challenges” running about on the internet. They are set periods of time in which you do or don’t do something throughout that time. Challenges can be great ways to jumpstart a program. Most people can do something difficult to attain a particular goal. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few considerations that you should take into account.challenge

  • Don’t just do a challenge because it’s out there. I saw a “30 minute plank challenge” on Facebook that was ridiculous. First, there’s no point to doing a plank for 30 minutes and second, couldn’t you choose a challenge that is more meaningful and more likely to help you reach your goals?
    • Choose a challenge that sets up behavioral change beyond the timeframe. Say you want to eat better, maybe the challenge is to eat no processed foods. For a short time this might be a good one and, beyond the end of it, you’ll be in better control and better aware of eating at least less of those food items.
    • Choose to prepare for something. Maybe you want to train for a certain event such as a race or a hike or an obstacle course. Couch to 5K is an example of that.
  • You can create your own challenge. Don’t get hung up on looking for a set program to do. Just create your own.
  • Do it with a friend. Doing things that are challenging are typically more successful if you have the support of, and share the experience with, a friend.
  • Choose a timeframe that is realistic. If the chosen timeframe is too short, it is either unrealistic to reach your goal or it’s not much of a challenge. Many programs run 6, 8, 12 weeks (don’t ask me why, but I don’t see many 10 wk programs). These lengths give enough time to accomplish something meaningful.
  • Review your success once the challenge is done. After you complete your challenge, you should take a good look at what you’ve accomplished and appreciate the effort that you put into it. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. That’s okay. It’s not all or nothing. Look at it in percentages. In example, if you meant to eat breakfast every day and you only did it half of the time, that’s still 50% more than you were doing before. Or, you were training for a running event and you only could get in 3 of the 4 miles per day that you set out to do. That’s still 75% of your goal. In both examples, good for you!

Challenges, something done or not done for a set period of time, may be a way to change your behaviors or accomplish something on your bucket list. Think about what change would be meaningful to you and set up a challenge to get yourself started.

Good luck, and please let me know if you could use some help with this.

Run a Simulation for Success

I’m currently reading Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave. In essence, the book is about how to change behaviors. One of the concepts that he discusses is the idea of running simulations of your future plans. Now, in the past, I’ve read research that’s shown that those who have a clear plan for the future have a better chance of attaining it than those who do not. Additionally, those that write those plans down have a better chance of attaining them than those that just keep them in their head. Now, Hargrave has cited research that shows that individuals that run simulations as to how they are going to achieve their goals, are the most successful.296D0E66-F203-4F6C-A115-4A84FF7EC0BDSo, what does it mean to run simulations? Imagine mapping out how you intend on reaching your goals from beginning to end. Now, you write out everything you can think of that could throw a monkey-wrench into your plan. A simulation is the addition of those stumbling blocks AND the solutions to deal with them and still keep you on course to attain your goals.

Start simulations with things that have happened in the past, so you know they could happen again in the future. Let’s say you plan out what days and times you are going to head to the gym to work out. Ask yourself what would happen if a deadline for a project is coming up and you’re going to have to stay late to work on it. This is going to knock out the evenings that you were planning to go to the gym. You have, however, thought this possibility through. You have a contingency plan. You get up an hour earlier in the morning and fit your workouts in before work. (as an example) The important idea is to not be reactionary. Don’t wait until something happens and then try to figure it out.

For maximum chances of success, have clear, specific goals in mind. Write them down. Write down how you intend on reaching them. Think of possible obstacles. Run simulations. Come up with contingencies and continue your progress in spite of those things that pop up to challenge you. You will even feel more confident in your ability to reach your goals.

Good luck!

 

Let That Be a Lesson to You!

Does trying new things scare you? Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m too old to start this.” or, “I’ll make a fool out of myself”? You’re not alone. Everyone (well, most everyone) has things that make them feel that way. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.

men's Fitness after 50

My next venture, Men’s Fitness After 50 podcast

First, we miss out on a lot of things that could enrich our lives. This could be starting an exercise program, taking dance lessons, cooking lessons, learning a language, or starting a business.

Second, those things that challenge us, the very things that we’re afraid of feeling stupid doing, are among the best things we can do to keep our brains functioning at their best. The cognitive work required to learn new skills is one of the 5 pillars of brain fitness (exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, socialization, and… cognitive challenge).

Personally, I’ll jump into many things without worrying about how I look, however, when it comes to my profession, my reputation, I honestly get a little apprehensive (scared.. ok, I said it.). In example, I’ve wanted to try podcasting for the better part of a year and have been to afraid that I would make a fool of myself. Well, we all need to get over it and just do it (not to get too Nike on you). The benefits for us, better health, greater skills, better quality of life,  far outweigh the perceived risks.

So, whatever you have wanted to do and have just been afraid to start… jump in, the water is fine. (oh… and I’ll start podcasting on Monday). Let me know what you’d like to try , but are afraid to, in the comments.