“Start Small Finish Strong” Expectations and beliefs will shape behaviour and how we achieve long term goals.
It’s easy to imagine what your perfect lifestyle might look like. We see it all the time in the media, in the movies, from our friends and family. We can always envision how our lives should be when it comes to our health and especially our lifestyle behaviours. We get told what we should do, how we should look and what that ideal image is and it seems very doable. It’s sold to us as achievable. The problem is, we always get shown the end-product. We don’t get shown the steps it takes to get there and that, my friends is the tricky part.
In business terms, it would be called ‘the minimum viable product’. In the tech world, they don’t often release a product that is at its full iteration yet. There’s often version 1, version 2, version 3 which get released to the public bit by bit before it really takes off as the fully functioning program. Think of how Facebook first started and then how it’s grown from there. It wasn’t a finished product that we see now. The same applies to your lifestyle. You might know what you want it to look like and you know what you think you should be doing and that’s great, it’s very achievable over time but it’s very hard to go from let’s say, doing no exercise and eating junk food every week to completely overhauling everything you do. It’s doesn’t work like that. It’s not sustainable. We need to have steps in between.
So what we need to find is your minimum viable lifestyle change. So what is the smallest, easiest thing that you can implement straight away? It might be as simple as waking up earlier. That might be the first step. So all you do, get your phone out, set that alarm 20 minutes early and practice that for a week. If you can do that, give yourself a pat on the back for getting a win on the board and then let’s focus on the next iteration of your perfect lifestyle and that might be, using that 20 minutes, throw your shoes on, get outside, go for a walk, bike ride, do some push ups, do whatever you can in that 20mins. Just get moving. If exercise is the part of your perfect lifestyle, get that other win on the board.
Get the simple things done, piece by piece that can then add up. It’s also really important to talk about those wins when they happen because all too often, when we think about perfect lifestyle, we try and do it, we try and start exercising everyday, we try to eat healthy but often the change is too big and it’s too hard. It’s not sustainable because we haven’t practiced it. It’s important to celebrate the little wins. Don’t discount them and say, ‘Oh, you know, I’m only going for a walk.’ Relatively, that’s a big milestone. It’s a one step to climbing Everest, if you want to put an analogy on it.
So make sure you set up little moments when you can be happy with the change that you’ve made, not disappointed that it’s not your perfect lifestyle because that’s going to come later. So once you’ve started to get a few wins on the board, you need to start thinking ahead. Somehow, each new step is going to draw you towards your perfect lifestyle. And now here’s the crux of the issue, you might have read in some of my previous posts that the perfect lifestyle doesn’t exist and it’s absolutely true. So what will happen is, as you try to pursue it, you realise that imperfection IS perfect and what you’ll actually be doing is practicing managing your own time, managing your own tasks better and more effectively so that those health behaviours can just slide into where they need to be.
So if your stress level changes, if your routine changes, you will be able to include different elements of a healthy lifestyle into your day-to-day life because you’ve had some practice being agile and being able to adapt your lifestyle. So now, when you reflect let’s say, maybe a year later of constantly adapting and making little changes and understanding your lifestyle better, all of a sudden people are going to be looking at you and going, ‘Wow! How do you stay so active? How do you find the time to cook and eat well all the time? How come you seem so well-rested? How do you have so much energy?’
You wouldn’t have realised it but you have achieved your ideal lifestyle. Other people will tell you that and that they’ll notice the changes probably before you do and it’ll take a moment of reflection before you realise how well you’ve done. When you do, make sure you thank yourself.