The end of the year is getting so much closer than ever and if you’re at all like me, I bet you’ve had a thought or two about things like promises you made to yourself last year around this time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between the times I set and achieved my goals and the times I struggled to fit everything in and ended up putting my Pilates time or time for myself on the back burner. Trust me, I’ve struggled more than you might imagine and there were many times when I lost the battle!
But then there were wonderful times when I not only won each battle, but made it to the end of the year and had seriously changed my habits for good.
And every time I’ve succeeded, it turned out there were very specific things I did that made all the difference in the world; made it possible for me to make Pilates a major part of my life, in fact.
I’d like to share some of the secrets (and they’re not really secrets, of course!) that I’ve used to make great progress with my Pilates and general health goals.
Have you ever fully intended to start something good for yourself, like taking Pilates, but found it impossible to make the time to go? You already know, or maybe you’ve heard, how good it makes you feel in both body and mind, as well as how rewarding that sense of achievement is after you’ve completed a class or a session. And yet, it’s just never quite made it to the top of the to-do list.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided I would start making time to cook healthier meals, attend a specific Pilates class each week, or even have lunch with a friend on a regular basis, but ended up not doing it.
I’d think about it, even talk about it with every intention of going, and then not follow through. Something would always come up that “needed” my time more. I’d quickly put myself on the back burner, telling myself, “I’ll make time next week”.
Guess what? Next week would always come around and so would something else that would “need” my time. Sound familiar? It’s a vicious cycle.
2012 has been a big year for me in taking back my time and finally following through on certain things I’ve intended to do forever.
The Five Tools
What follows are the 5 tools that have really worked to help me reach my goals and although you may already know about them, or use them all, I hope you’ll at least find a bit of inspiration, or a new view that will help you on your Pilates and wellness journey. Don't underestimate these!
1) Write Down Your Intentions
Thinking and talking about your Pilates goals is great, but in order to make it tangible and real you need to write those goals down. Declare it! And then, go further and make sure those goals are as specific as possible. If you find that you tend to over-estimate your time or abilities, it’s better to shoot a little lower and then raise your aim as you achieve each small goal. It’s been shown that experiencing a sense of accomplishment can lead to real growth and change in the brain and that translates to the same thing in your Pilates practice.
2) Schedule It
Once you’ve declared something you are going to do, put it on your calendar (maybe use ink so you can’t erase it 😉 ). If it’s not on your calendar, it’s not real.
3) Make It Non-Negotiable
It can be to easy to put off our Pilates session, especially when we put it in the category of stuff we are doing to take care of yourself.
Non-negotiable means that no matter what else happens, this one thing that I have made a commitment to I will do, even if the day is ending and I have left it till last. It’s a toughie, but after you get used to the idea, and make yourself follow through in a moment that you might have previously let slide, the feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence that floods through the system is pretty amazing. You know that feeling, I’m sure.
Something to watch out for when making things non-negotiable is the “I’m not worth it” justification. We can so quickly give up something that we do for ourselves because we feel “selfish”. It’s easy to forget how much better we are for others when we take good care of our basic health and fitness needs and don’t put ourselves on the back burner.
We've all heard the instructions on an airplane to put our own oxygen masks on first before helping others. We can't help others if we ourselves run out of oxygen. The same thing applies to your own overall wellness!
Put on your Pilates oxygen mask first!
4) Set a Specific Pilates Goal and Write It Down
It doesn’t have to be something huge. It could be achieving a roll-up without using momentum, or holding a side plank for 30 seconds. Maybe it's just making it to class.
Even though these may seem like small goals, the feeling of achievement that you generate drives you onward to do it again and again (see point 1 🙂 ) and soon you’ll be surprised at how far you travel over the course of a year.
5) Get an Accountability Partner
This might be the most important point of all—it's the biggest secret to success, not only in your Pilates program, but in every area of your life.
You know how you make a promise to yourself and, as long as no one else knows about it, it’s just so simple and easy to pretend later on, when the pressure is growing and time is running out, that you didn’t really mean it and you can let that one go? Oh no, I’ve never done that either! 😉
It’s hard to do, but when you can make a commitment public, it’s suddenly a lot harder to skip out on that promise and you end up keeping it and making HUGE progress in whatever you’re trying to achieve.
An accountability partner could be a friend, or maybe another person you’ve met in class. We are much more likely to show up and follow through when we know someone else is counting on us to be there.
Some people call it throwing your hat over the fence, or getting leverage on yourself. However it works for you, just make sure you add this to your program and I can all but guarantee you’ll see some pretty amazing changes happening in your Pilates program (and beyond!).
Just So Crazy it Might Actually Work!
These ideas seem so simple, perhaps even too simple to some, but they really work and I hope you’ll ignore that feeling that you may be having as you read this—the one that says, “yeah, I already know that/do all this.” and just revisit these ideas and how you might apply them to your Pilates goals, or your health and fitness goals in general.
My life is still crazy-busy and the days fly by (can you believe it's November 2012 already?). Scheduling a specific time in my own hectic life to take care of myself and achieve some of my own goals has not only made a better teacher/mother/wife/friend, but an all around more pleasant person to be around.
If you’ve got something you’ve been wanting to do and just can’t seem to find the time, try implementing these steps.
And I’d love to hear your story about these 5 steps, or your biggest challenge with sticking with your Pilates practice too. Post a comment below and I’ll always reply—that’s non-negotiable so you can count on it. 🙂
Yours in follow-through,
P.S. In case you were wondering, yes, there WILL be a 2013 Pilates Challenge and it's going to be here soon… We'll be helping you use the five tools in this post plus a whole lot more to take your Pilates practice to a level you've possibly never achieved. More news coming soon and if you want to be sure and get every update, make sure you're subscribed to the list. The subscription form is in the sidebar on the site. I can't wait to tell you all about the 2013 Challenge!