There are many fantastic ways to get focused and motivated to begin a diet or exercise program, but often the most difficult thing to do is keep that drive and ambition alive for more than a few weeks and see your goal through to completion.
Within just weeks of starting, many people have already hit their first snag or setback, and as a result, have slipped backwards in the mental focus and motivation department. Setting goals in writing is an essential step to success, but how do you stay focused on them? One technique I have used ever since my very first bodybuilding competition 18 years ago, is…
The “contest countdown calendar.”
I have used it ever since, through 28 competitions and it will work for you too, for any fitness goal. I purchase a desk or wall calendar – the type that shows each week stretching horizontally across the page with an open block of space for each day.
After I set my goal and place a deadline on it, I do NOT stop there. I take out my calendar and start counting backwards from my target goal deadline to the present day.
T-minus 117 days….
T-minus 116 days…
T-minus 115 days….
I also fill in my workouts for the entire 3-4 month period, which is the typical length I allow for my mid-range goals like contest prep. You would be shocked – pleasantly so – just how focused this keeps you. Even better still, you get MORE and MORE motivated with each passing day you countdown because the deadline is getting closer
Deadlines are absolutely critical to your success. Little gets done without deadlines.
There is a saying in management and psychology that “work will always expand to fill the time allowed for its completion.”
Remember term papers in school? When you were given a term paper assignment and you had the entire semester to do it, did you run home that first night and get crankin on it?
How about after a week? Two weeks? A month? TWO MONTHS? Probably not, eh?
If you’re like most people, you put it off until the last minute and you barely got it turned in on time. In fact, there are always a few people who pull all nighters the night before!
Alas, the power of the deadline!
In your fitness endeavors, if you don’t have IMPENDING deadlines that give you that twinge in your stomach that says “take action now, or else!” then you find it very easy to say to yourself, ‘ I have plenty of time so this one cheat meal doesn’t matter… it doesn’t make much difference at this point if I skip this one workout… I have time to make it up…”
And then, just like the term paper, you are scrambling at the last minute to reach your weight goal. But in the case of your body, the consequences are more severe and painful than just a bad grade or late penalty.
Inevitably, you succumb to crash dieting and overtraining or other unhealthy fast-weight-loss madness, which eats up your own muscle like a hungry cannibal and sends you spiraling into the dark pit of metabolic damage and the inevitable plateau and weight gain that follow.
But the solution is so simple: Count your way down to success!
Don’t stop with setting goals. Set deadlines on your goals. Then put your goal countdown on paper, review your goals every single day, AND know, every single day, how many days there are until your target goal date. You will stay more consciously focused and even better, your unconscious mind will go to work for you in keeping you motivated, on track, and on schedule. You’ll come in for a landing on your goal deadline date like a fighter pilot landing on an aircraft carrier.
I just did my countdown calendar earlier this week… T minus 117 days til my next bodybuilding competition, and thanks to this simple but powerful technique, I’m already focused like a laser beam and have been making steady progress without so much as a hiccup…
Don’t under-estimate this simple technique… Give it an honest test… because it’s often the simplest motivational techniques that are the most powerful of all!