Hey everyone. If you don’t mind, set those kettlebells, sandbags, and ropes down for a moment, grab some water, and let’s have a little talk about a cool little paradigm-shifting website that might help you with motivating you to the next level of your life and fitness. It’s an interesting twist on the traditional New Year’s Resolution… Check it out: Leap Year’s Resolution.Their tagline “4 Years 4 Change” says it all. For those who get frustrated when they don’t meet their goals by the end of the year, this approach gives you permission to encounter difficulties, and more importantly, take the time and effort to OVERCOME those difficulties, rather than give up since the resolution is shot. Four years is enough time to see most major goals through, from beginning to end.
For example, a New Year’s resolution of losing 50 pounds in a year may seem daunting and, for many, impossible. A person who loses 35 lbs. that year, while he may be happy with his progress, may end up disappointed that his original goal wasn’t met. This is not exactly positive reinforcement for such a great accomplishment. The following New Year, the resolution might be dropped to a “more realistic and reachable” 30 lbs. Or worse yet, no resolution might be set at all.
While 50 lbs. in 1 year may seem aggressive, 100 lbs. in 4 years (25 lbs. per year) doesn’t seem as unattainable. The same person who loses 35 lbs. in his first year will be extremely ecstatic for the same amount of progress and motivated to do even more. Even if he does comparatively worse his second year and loses only 15 lbs., he’s still right on target for his four year goal.
Why “Leap” To A Four Year Plan?
Having a four year plan levels the playing field some. I know a personal trainer or two who seem to proudly live in some sort of personal mental bubble and are convinced that life’s problems can not and should not ever get in the way of your workout. If that is your personal mental attitude, the more power to you. It takes a special personality that can look fearlessly in the eyes of adversity without flinching. But for the rest of of us who are realists and not blessed (depending on who you ask) with such bold A-Type personalities, we know that bad things sometimes happen. A four year plan gives us permission to handle those issues as they come up, without feeling like we’ve “failed” from our original goal.
Life isn’t always like the movies. “The Eye of the Tiger” doesn’t just start playing in the air when you need your second wind.
Now, before everyone starts to object and thinking that I’m against setting shorter term goals, let me clarify. I am NOT saying that you should not have annual goals. You should. You should have goals to meet in a year, some in less than a year, and so on. But it is also important to have larger goals in mind. Every ultimate goal is simply a bunch of smaller milestone goals… so set long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals. My main point is that, too often, in our sincere eagerness to force a change in our life, we’ll take a long-term goal and cram it into a short-term time period. Don’t do that. Unrealistic expectations can set one up for failure. Life isn’t always like the movies. “The Eye of the Tiger” doesn’t just start playing in the air when you need your second wind. One should not only think in terms of one year goals. If he does, he will either fail often or he will succeed, but may lose sight of the big picture. Having longer-term goals ensure that your shorter-term goals continue to be challenging, while tempering them into reasonable bite-size chunks.
It’s kind of like estimating a couple extra hours or even a half a day into a road trip, so that you can take a detour for whatever reason, if necessary. If you plan too tightly, you’ll feel pressured to get to your destination on time. But if you give your permission to take a little longer (but still with a definite direction and reasonable speed) and allow for emergencies, you’ll enjoy the trip alot more and not be frazzled when you get to your destination.
Larger Timeframes Equal More Ambitious Goals (In Other Words, “Dream Bigger, Do Bigger”)
Not only does successfully reaching your immediate target goals get more realistic, it also allows you to think more outside the box of what you can achieve. Your limitations, your boundaries, are extended a little bit farther. Do you think that if you were given a million bucks and an acre of land, that you would build the same house than if you were given $250,000 and a quarter acre? Even if that million bucks was broken into four annual installments, you’d design and build the house knowing in the back of your mind that you’d have more to spend later. More than likely, the house would be designed in such a way that you could add on to it over the next four years as your receive this money. It’s not that the $250,000 house would be crappy. But no one designs a $250,000 house thinking that in four years it’s going to be expanded four times its size or quality. Sure, you might add on a room or two over time and even plan for it… but the one KNOWING that more money will be available later is likely to design DIFFERENTLY and more AMBITIOUSLY.
An Illustrative Case StudyLet’s reapply this illustration to something a little closer to a topic we at kettlebell.com are interested in… fitness, the art of losing weight and getting in shape. Regardless of your physical fitness level, if you’re trying to set an annual goal without a bigger picture in mind, it might be rather shallow and bland.
Joe is a middle-aged man with a beer belly, 70 lbs. of extra fat, a favorite couch. One day he looks in the mirror and decides that this isn’t the way he wants to live his life anymore. Something needs to change. Over the next day, he begins to steam over how much he’s wasted the past years drinking and partying and letting his body go down the crapper. At three in the morning, he wakes up and makes up his mind. Things are going to be different starting the next morning. He decides that, over the next year, he’s going to get back into shape… lose the fat, build more muscle, etc. You could probably pull his resolution out of a jar of common resolutions. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But what happens if he comes head to head with some challenges and is in danger of failing his goal? What happens if he meets his goal? Let’s see:
- If he encounters challenges, it’s possible he just might give up. Some people are like that… they know that the clock is ticking (only 364 days to go) and if they go off-course for whatever reason, they might try to recover a few times… but after a while, they might just give up and say, “Aw heck! I’ll just wait till next year! Next year is only four months away! Or he might just go the opposite direction and throw in the towel all together, accompanied with “I give up. I’m a loser. I’m just gonna be fat I guess. Might as well go get something to eat.”
- If he successfully meets his goal at the end of the year, he will no doubt deservedly celebrate… but he will have crossed the finish line that he envisioned; he has finished the race. What’s next? Well, his next annual goal might be to “maintain this new and improved me” or he might even think, “Cool! Let’s keep this going! Last year was all about dieting and building a little muscle. This year, I’m gonna put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle using kettlebells and bodyweight exercises.” So his following year turns out to be the next obvious increment, and then the next year another increment, and so on and so forth.
Now, what if we changed just one variable in this equation? Instead of an annual goal, what if Joe made a four-year commitment to change and self-improvement? Four years is alot of time. The boundaries are extended… as are the possibilities. In four years, one can go from high-school graduate to college graduate, or from a governor or senator to President of the United States.
Not only does successfully reaching your immediate target goals get more realistic, it also allows you to think more outside the box of what you can achieve. Your limitations, your boundaries, are extended a little bit farther.
With a four year goal in mind, Joe thinks bigger. Rather than the typical and broad “Lose the gut, build some muscle”, he thinks more focused and ambitious. He starts out with the bigger picture, the million dollar home on the acre, instead of the $250,000 house on a quarter acre. Sure, he has to START small… but he is determined to FINISH big!
With that in mind, he decides that the next four years are going to be life changing. It’s not longer “lose fat, build muscle”, but it’s “lose all 70 lbs. of fat, put on at least 25 lbs. of muscle, and become a world-class competitor in Kettlebell Sport (Girevoy Sport)”. You see, now the goal encompasses so much more. Of course, he’s not going to be world-class in his first year. He might not even think about competing in his first year… but now he knows where he’s going for the entire road trip, not just for the first part of the journey. Having that bigger goal in mind will motivate him to continue on, with a clear path and a clear ultimate goal. And if he messes up, falls off the wagon, or whatever… he still has plenty of time to recover. The clock is still ticking… but he doesn’t have to feel like he’s in a panic and that it’s do-or-die-NOW. Every year, or even six months, he might set his immediate short and mid-term goals to focus on, but always with that four year end-target goal in mind. With this new laser-like focus, his potential for success is much greater with a leap year plan.
What Are You Waiting For? Leap To Your Next BIG Goal!
I hope that I have given you some things to think about regarding goal making and that you’ve seen how having more ambitious longer-term goals can benefit you even in the short term. Check out LeapYearsResolution.com and consider submitting your own “Leap Year’s Resolution“. The great thing about this site too is that you can actually post your own personal resolution for all to see. Sometimes that public declaration and having that accountability will help one stick to the plan. Even cooler, it looks like the site plans on bringing on experts from different areas to help people with their four year plans.
In four years, one can go from high-school graduate to college graduate, or from a governor or senator to President of the United States.
Granted, if you’re the type that is rigid in your routine and have got it all figured out, or if you are a driver personality and have a hard time being empathetic for those who move slower than you, then this might not be for you. For some of us, “getting there” will take a little longer than it might take others… but the important part is that we do get there. This site will help some of us get some of the items crossed off of our list, slowly, but surely.
No matter what your personality or lifestyle, may you find out what works best to motivate you to accomplish all your life and fitness goals, big and bigger!