The Health Challenge
Here at LIVESTRONG.COM we're gearing up for what will undoubtedly be a month to remember. After all, the Olympics are a prime opportunity to be swept up by the ultimate competition and feel inspired to become something better. Whether it's the underdog that captures your heart (Justin Gatlin’s shot at redemption has our attention), the competitive battles for greatness (yeah, we're looking at you Phelps and Lochte), or the inspiring stories of people who continue to defy the odds (Dara Torres career is amazing, regardless of what happened), the Olympics are the embodiment of personal achievement.
But July also marks a time on the calendar that is a little more personal. Half of the year has passed. The summer is here, the warmer weather has arrived, and we have one simple question: What have you done so far?
Before you answer, I’m going to issue a challenge: Take a hard look in the mirror.
Now before you judge me for being shallow, narcissistic, or arrogant, this stare-down is not about your physical appearance or whether you're ready to show off a flat stomach or abs at the beach. (Although that is always an added bonus.)
I want you to look in the mirror and determine if you've been true to yourself and established an optimistic outlook about what you can achieve. Have you been working harder towards becoming the person you want to be? Or have you made excuses, given in to frustration, and settled back into old habits and already considered this year a lost cause?
I issued a similar challenge back January, because sometimes we need a little tough love. And I'm here to supply that once again--starting with myself.
I have not been my healthiest and best self in 2012. And this isn't about physical results as much as it is about habits. I haven't been sleeping enough, I still don't spend enough time with my friends and family, and in all honesty, I could be more consistent with my exercise and diet. These goals are nothing new. I wrote them down in January and I reassess them each month. The problem isn't my execution; it's my lack of focus.
Creating a shift towards becoming your best version doesn't start with tangible, concrete goals, such as dropping 10 pounds or earning a raise. This is part of the process, but success begins with building habits that are reinforced through consistent execution. Want a promotion? Focus on the steps that will get you there--such listing your weaknesses, determining your company's goals, and then setting up a plan for success.
The same can be said about weight loss or improved eating. Acknowledge your behaviors that need improvement and then work on those.
Step. By. Step.
And remind yourself to be patient. Bad habits aren’t born overnight, and good practices can't be incarnated instantly. You must teach yourself to have as much patience towards success as you did negligence that caused your frustration.
Oftentimes we lose sight of the process with "tunnel vision" that focuses only on the end goal. I spend every day focusing on trying to become a better person, and as a result sometimes I forget about the steps I need to follow to make that happen. I know my priorities and my values, and I'm very good at maintaining those. But I still struggle at improving my weaknesses because I have a tendency of reassuring myself by only looking at what I do well, instead of what needs work.
Understand that supplying positive reinforcement is important for your mindset. That's how you build confidence and success; find what you do well and acknowledge those traits. And it's that confidence that will help you overcome your weaknesses in the face of doubt, anger and frustration. But only focusing on the good still leaves open the possibility to be pulled down by the bad. That's what happened to me.
So let's take a step together. The year is only half done. The glass is still half full. If we can learn anything from Olympians it's that greatness lives within us all. It doesn't matter if you've been perfect this year or have fallen short of your expectations. Like any race, winning is always the goal. But achievement isn’t limited to champions; it’s a collective that is shared by all participants. Taking part in the competition and accepting the journey is part of the glory, and that’s any opportunity that you can seize at any moment.
Any accomplishment is still an accomplishment. And a relentless attitude will inevitably help you persevere and reach your goals, regardless of the timeline. I'm now focused on finishing 2012 stronger than I started. And I hope that you are committed to doing the same.
Whether you want to sprint to the finish line or take a marathon approach, we'll be here supporting you along whatever path you choose.
So take a hard look in the mirror.
What do you see? Who do you see? When I look at you and hear your requests, I see potential. I see desire. And I see greatness. Now it's time for you to bring that limitless potential to life.