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The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We all know how to make plans, to dream big – but few people truly take action. The world is filled with a hybrid cross of inspiration. Like an experiment spawned by McDonalds and Anthony Robbins after eating Chinese food these momentary glimmers of inspiration fire you up quickly, but like all other cheap thrills leave you hungry for the real thing only moments later. Fast food goal setting won’t stick. It’s the dawn of a new year. 2014 is almost upon us, and with it your decision about whether or not to rid yourself of the cloak of slothfulness or fully and completely succumb to it once and for all. Sure, it’d be nice to have a six-pack but are you willing to put in the sacrifice to achieve it? Let’s use this as a sample goal and see what you’d need to accomplish it:

No cheat meals. This seems so simple in the first few days. Dieting is always the same. Spirits are high. You’re eating well, barely feeling any hunger and smugly satisfied with how well it’s all going. You delude yourself into thinking that unlike all the other times you tried to get super lean that this time would be different, despite following exactly the same plan as before.

And then you get to the weekend. Or the second weekend. It doesn’t matter. But one thing I will guarantee is that this moment will come before the end of the third week of eating clean. Your taste buds will rebel. Your body will scream at you for sugar. You’ll find yourself fantasizing about different types of sugary foods. And sooner or later you’ll likely succumb. Whether it’s an evening with friends, or just a bad day at the office, sooner or later everyone’s resolve weakens and they find themselves stuffing pizza down their crotch.

So before we even start to worry about the kind of insane training plan you think you need to get ripped once and for all, don’t you think we need to fix that behavior issue first? Because if we don’t fix that then you’re just going to find yourself back at the same place over and over again. Sound familiar? Eat well for two weeks, blow it on week three, and start again.

Given the massive percentage of the world that is overweight or obese (now over sixty percent in Australia and the USA) it’s safe to say that people are not very good at changing habits. Leopards and spots and all that. Which leads me to the sad part about goal setting – most people will fail to achieve their goals. If they didn’t the world would be filled with Olympic gold medalists, with movie contracts, pin up wives, and earning millions every year.

But the problem for many is they set back as a final destination. Failure to achieve a goal, like success, is not a destination, merely one more stop along life’s journey. I’m happy to tell people how many fitness businesses I’ve been involved in. Some more successful than others, but none anywhere near as successful as our current one. The good thing about success though is that you only need to get it right once usually, and it’s good for ever after.

While that would be fantastic with diet – just eat well for a day, and you’d be ripped for the rest of your life – diet is one of the few things that is like being on Fifty First Dates. Every single day you need to start all over again teaching yourself the right things to do, steering away from the bad memories, and that will never change. There is no day that you wake up and food manufacturers will have decided not to make delicious treats like croissants and peanut M&Ms. (Probably not together though, because that may actually ruin two great things). And so every day you need to fight off that same temptation again and again and again, just like a junkie steering clear of heroin. In this case though, sugar is far more easily available and no one will think twice about helping you get a hit. In fact, you’ll probably have a number of friends try to reward you for your efforts at eating clean by offering you cake and sweets, without even realising how harmfully undermining they are being.

This six-pack goal is starting to sound hard, isn’t it? Maybe we should just moderate our goals to something a bit more watered down. Something like, “I’ll eat clean six days a week and eat what I want on the other day”. Would you advise a junkie to stay off the heroin for six days a week and go to town on the seventh? So if we really want to achieve this goal we see that it’s absolute cold turkey, all the time, with bloody minded focus until the job is done.

And if the friends, or even your partner, continues to subconsciously try to sabotage you, what then? Well, if the goal is important, and the surroundings you find yourself in are not conducive to achieving your goal then it is up to you whether or not to stick around. I know I have many people I still consider myself friends with, but I choose not to hang around them much anymore because I know that it is difficult to maintain focus on what is important to me around them. It doesn’t make them bad people. It just means that I had to decide whether or not my own goals were more important than some social events, and for me they are. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a social life, far from it, but it means that I avoid situations that I know my resolve may waver in. One of the important parts about goal setting is creating habits that lead to success, and becoming aware of situations that may lead to failing.

Just like with my last post, I urge you to think about what it is you’re going to give up for 2014, to achieve what you want. Life is full. That means to make space for a new accomplishment you will have to squeeze out an old one. You know, you have to give to get and all that.

The road to achieving the best version of you is right there, shimmering like a mirage. But you are weighed down by bad habits and lack of awareness as to which situations cause you to fall into those bad habits. Forget the performance goals for 2014. Start with the behavioral and habit goals, and you’ll likely end up with far more than if you just wish for a six-pack.

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