April Change: Making Fitness a Priority

So here I am, on April Fools Day, no less, forging ahead with my experiment.  I will focus on one specific behavior each month in my own life, and catalog my journey along the way.  My goal is to share my process with the hopes of inspiring you to make your own changes or at a minimum empathizing with your struggles to make lasting behavior change.  I welcome your comments, thoughts, support and criticism. 

When developing this idea, I spoke with one of my coaches (yes, I have multiple!) about the fine line between a blog being self-serving and/or preachy and being a vehicle by which I can share with, teach and learn from others.  I trust you all will keep me honest.

I brainstormed a list of specific behaviors (note, these are not bigger “goals” per se, but singular behaviors that I would like to change in order to reach the bigger goals).  Here are a few of them:

  • Drink more water
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Cut out sugar
  • Work out consistently
  • Meditate daily
  • Go on weekly “Artist Dates”
  • Write daily
  • Be on time
  • Be more organized
  • Put myself first once daily

Good list, right?  These are the little things that nag at me on pretty much a daily basis…things that I really want to be doing as I know what an impact they will make in my life.  I also know that if I try to tackle all of them at once, I will fail.  So I decided to pick the one thing first that 1) I think will have the MOST impact on my life 2) is on most of YOUR lists and 3) is probably the hardest.  WORK OUT CONSISTENTLY!  Making Fitness A Priority.  Why the hardest one first?  I like to employ the “swallow the frog” theory made popular by Brian Tracy’s book on procrastination:  Eat That Frog! — the concept is actually about doing the most dreaded/big task first thing in the morning and everything else will “go down” easier, but I also link it to bigger projects – this may be the hardest one for me to actually do consistently, but I figure if I get this right, everything else will be a piece of cake! 

First I need to actually define the behavior I wish to change.  Specifically, I have found that the number one reason I don’t work out consistently is because I don’t make it a priority — in the past I have treated working out as a “luxury” — something I can do if I have time after everything else — vs. a priority — something that is just as important or urgent as everything else.  

The best way I know to prioritize something is to plan for it.  So, to get really specific, the behavior I need to change is to stop putting working out on the back burner, and start PRIORITIZING fitness by PLANNING for it. 

I need to have my “behavior” be measurable (so I know when it’s actually changing), so I am going to do that in two ways:

1) I commit to working out 3-5 times/week, with a mixture of strength and fitness

2) I will take my measurements at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month

The second measure is more for the satisfaction factor – I am actually not worried about the numbers and do not want to set specific goals around that.  I purely want to change my behavior (and attitude) around working out so that it is so much a part of me that it happens naturally.  I know that fitness is essential and foundational to success.  I know that when I am employing physical activity in my life, I feel better, I am more productive, and it is easier to accomplish all that I have on my plate.  As I said to my coach, when I don’t workout, I know I can “get there” and get it done, but with a strong, active body as a foundation, my energy and outlook are supporting me, vs. pulling me down.  And CONSISTENT exercise helps me maintain that outlook and energy level.

Now that the behavior has been defined, I need to identify those actions that will help me change that behavior:

1) Make a plan for working out (weekly?  monthly?)

2) Put workouts in my schedule — treat them as non-negotiable

3) Tell people (guess I’m already doing that)

4) Get support (from husband on days he needs to watch kids, from friend who works at gym, from coaches)

5) Do it.

So, today I am going to 1) go to the gym and get my measurements taken and 2) get the schedule and sit down and block out my workouts.

What do you think?  Are you in?  I’m off to the gym.  Let’s do this thing.

A Program For Changing Behavior

I recently completed a proposal to coach an executive, and put a lot of thought into the “program” around changing behavior.  I approached it as I would any change project in an organization, breaking it into phases that included Assessment, Development, Execution and Evaluation.  The difference this time was instead of implementing a new process, technology, or even structure, we are going to be implementing new behaviors – one of the trickier challenges of the practice of Change Management.  One of the key components of the program is understanding how long it will take to identify a behavior that we desire to change, and then successfully change it.

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I am not a very political person, but I do believe that people have the right to make their own choices and have their own opinion.  Others don’t feel that way.  They feel their way is the right way and that’s that.  So sometimes, when we do take a stand, we have to bear unkind and often harsh criticism.  It takes courage to have an opinion, and to be true to yourself regarding that opinion.

I recently watched The Suicide Tourist on PBS, which chronicles a high school classmate of mine’s father’s (Craig Ewert’s) journey to obtain an assisted suicide after being diagnosed with ALS.  I tuned in because I personally knew the family and had been alerted about it on Facebook.

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Fear: Motivator or Debilitator

I recently had the privilege of speaking at a Ladies Who Launch event with Jen Groover, serial entrepreneur and author of What If, and Why Not?. She talked about fear, and how she uses it as an indicator of importance – meaning if she’s scared of it, she MUST do it.  I completely agree with her – I have always found that when thinking about something makes my stomach start to do flip-flops, it’s because it’s THAT important to me.

However, there’s a different kind of fear that can creep up and debilitate you without ever raising its flag to indicate to you the level of importance of something.  This fear is so tricky that you wouldn’t even call it fear.   You call it “rules” or “conservative estimates” or “wise criticism”.  This fear is fueled by what other people think, or more accurately what you THINK other people will think.

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Going Public

Tomorrow is a big day for me:  I am on two panels at the Columbia Women In Business Conference, as well as a sponsor of the event.  My postcard is going in the 700 “Goodie Bags” that are going home with the participants.  The card has on it a link to my new website that I just converted to WordPress YESTERDAY, which marks the official launch of my BLOG (which you are kind enough to now be reading!).  This postcard link allows participants access to a Toolkit I just created about how to make a decision about motherhood and working, that I developed with authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober who wrote an amazing book called Getting to 50/50:  How You Can Have It All By Sharing it All. This is my first real publication, and my first “tool”, my first blog, and my first public foray into an area that I want to take my consulting business (more on that in another post but let’s just say it has to do with retaining moms and dads in the workforce).

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Passion and Paychecks

I had a Foundation Session with a client this week (this kicks off a one-on-one coaching relationship) and we were talking about the concept of pursuing your passions and actually making money doing it.   She was doubtful.  I’m a believer:  I love everything I do, and I make money doing it.  But, that isn’t always enough for people to see.  They think “well, you’re lucky!  Your passions are the types of things you can actually get paid for.”

My counter to that is life is short – too short to waste it on things you don’t enjoy.  In addition, if you were spending your whole day catering to your strengths, vs. fighting the horrendous, consistent uphill battle of “needs improvement”, you would be doing your company, the world, and yourself a big favor.

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Understanding Change

I have over 15 years experience in Change Management.  I understand the ins, the outs, the good, the bad, the ugly.  I understand what’s to be gained from making positive change in your life, and I know how hard it is to do it.

But today my daughter defeated me.  My little, one year old daughter reminded me how hard it is to make someone else change.  My pediatrician, who I adore because of his straightforward,  non-wishy washy style, told me in no uncertain terms that my daughter needed to be off her bottle (drinking from a cup) and no pacifier by her 15 month visit.

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