In the fall of 2019, I decided to reassess my habits and set new goals for myself. One of my goals was to improve my fitness. I wanted to gain the knowledge and habits about nutrition and strength training that would positively benefit me for life. To accomplish this goal, I began an 18- week fitness challenge through a gym in London, Ontario. Over those 18 weeks, I learned an enormous amount about health and fitness, and I also learned important lessons about the power of habits and setting goals.
The Power of Habits
“You get what you repeat.” James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
I considered what would happen if I changed an excuse, the “why I cannot”, into “why I can”. What would happen if I did this consistently? I realized that the small habits that I repeat daily have the power to greatly improve my life.
Many of my most powerful habits were ones that I did not recognize were holding me back. At my gym, I worked with a coach who helped me understand how to change my direction. She gave me a road map, but ultimately I had to find my way. Along the path, I experienced highs and lows with motivation and progress. Although I had a coach to hold me accountable, I was responsible to form habits by choosing progress over excuses– I had to make a sustained commitment to myself.
Mark Gasparotto, often speaks about doing the right thing when nobody’s watching, and the importance of this value during his experiences in the military. In fitness and life, no one is going to do the work for you, and ultimately no one else will experience the full rewards of your hard work but you. You have to hold yourself accountable for your results, you will get what you repeat.
The everyday small habits put my discipline to the test. Towards the end of the challenge, I found myself wanting to stray from the roadmap that was set for me. Whether it was in the gym wanting to forgo that last burpee or in the kitchen late at night not wanting to meal prep for the next day. The simple truth about discipline is that it has to come from within. No one would know if I had cheated except me. I needed to remind myself that even if one action did not change the trajectory of my progress, I would still be cheating myself. I had to do what I knew was the right thing when no one was watching, and I had to do it consistently or I would not be successful.
I believe that who you are when no one is watching is a reflection of personal values. I realized that my ability to commit to myself and my goals was a reflection of who I wanted to be. This fitness challenge taught me the importance of breaking habits that are holding me back, and building habits that will help me improve.
The Why in Goal Setting
During my first consultation at the gym, I met with a coach that helped me understand my motivations for wanting to begin a challenge. I learned that when I set a clear goal for myself, it needs to be rooted in a purposeful reason. That way, I’m motivated to develop disciplined habits that move me closer to achieving that goal.
My coach once said to me, “It is going to come down to how badly you want it.” After that conversation, I reflected on my true motivation to reach my goal and why I was willing to make sacrifices for it. I rooted myself in a strong value proposition of why and as a result I was intrinsically motivated.
What I learned about discipline is that when you have a clear understanding of why you are working towards a goal, motivation comes much more easily. Without a clear vision of where you want to go, there is no path for progress to follow. If I am working towards something, because I think it is the right thing to do, I struggle to stay motivated. When I know it is the right thing for me I can stay committed.
Understanding the “why” is very important to me. I learned that setting a goal gives me a sense of purpose. I am driven by the desire to become a better version of myself and I feel accomplishment through discipline and commitment. The fitness challenge taught me the importance of understanding my motivators when setting new goals.
The path to success was far from linear and I experienced many peaks and plateaus. On the days that I didn’t want to show up, I reminded myself that completing a challenge is not about the days that you want to show up. It’s about the days that you don’t want to show up but you do the work anyway. Successfully reaching my goal was a journey of sustained discipline that required many sacrifices. In February of 2020 when I surpassed my goal I felt the accomplishment of every little action I made by myself, for myself.
For me, the fitness challenge was about much more than building strength and improving health. It was about learning who I want to become. It is the actions that I repeat that make me who I am. I have the power to determine which actions will help me reach meaningful goals.
Written by Jessica Orchin
Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.