Set the Right Goals, and Don’t Forget to Execute!

Believe it or not, we’re coming up on the second quarter of 2013—have you set your goals yet? If you had set goals for 2013, are you progressing toward them? If you’re like many people, you may have let these aspirations move to the back burner. Today we’ll look at whether these goals should move to the front burner or off the stove completely. For those that do belong on your front burner, how can you keep your focus on them and ensure that they’re reached?

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What’s the Problem?

There are a few major reasons why a goal you set early in the year will fade into the background after a few weeks or months. One reason could be that the goal was not something you truly want or value. Sometimes it can be difficult to really drill down to the things we really want. In fact, focusing on ourselves only can result in blurry vision. Instead, recognize that your Creator God made you in a particular way; individually and different than anyone else. What strengths and passions has He placed in you, and what purpose does He want to use you to accomplish?

Translate the Long Term to What to Do Today

Another common reason that we discard our goals relates to lack of detailed planning and accountability. Instead of setting general goals and stopping there, translate your goals into weekly activities and execute them consistently.

Seven Key Areas

The following six-step process provides a simple overview of how to set the right goals and adopt the habits that will lead you to reach them. Use these steps as guidelines to build a specific process that works for you. This method can be applied to reach success in any area of life, and we recommend using it for eack of the following areas:
• Career
• Fitness
• Personal Development
• Spiritual
• Family
• Financial
• Social

The six steps toward setting and executing worthwhile goals are as follows:

Step 1 – Figure out what you want. Peace? Financial security? Influence? Travel? Strong relationships? Missions? Taking care of family? Be specific. What would your life look like if you inherited $200 million today and also learned that you have only 5 years to live?

Step 2 – Find people who have what you want and listen to them; protect your mind from people [who don’t have what you want] who want to give you advice. Does your brother-in-law have financial success? If not, don’t take his financial advice.

Step 3 – Based on what you want (step 1) develop big, 5-yr goals. Figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this year to reach these big goals. Then, figure out the goals you’ll need to hit this month to hit the annual goals.

Step 4 – Plan out daily activities that will lead you to your monthly goals. Work with an experienced mentor [from step 2] to insure you choose the right activities.

Step 5 – Put your daily activities into your calendar, and stick to your calendar

Step 6 – Forget about the goals and focus on executing this day’s activities. Report how you did to your mentor. If you completed today’s activities, be happy with that.

Focus on things you can control—your activity. Focusing on results instead of activities you can control can be frustrating. Use your mentor to determine the right activities, do them consistently, and results will come.

What’s the thread?

What’s TotalThriver.com all about?  Perhaps you noticed last week the feature of the ThriveFit training program and took a moment to learn how an Olympic lift can help you get in great shape and look and feel better.  Maybe you scrolled down to see the previous week’s post about eternity and what God has planned for His children.  After that, you clicked the ThriveWealthy tab on the top menu and downloaded the free cashflow planning tool, including instructions for getting your finances in order.  Are these topics related?  What connects these seemingly unrelated ideas?

oven mitts!

You’re not an ice-cube tray

The threads that connect these aspects of life are at the very core of our mission here at TotalThriver. A prevalent notion in our culture today is the idea that we exist as individuals with different compartments, which are separate and distinct from each other.  For example, a man may delude himself by thinking, “Sure, I’m harsh and unsympathetic at work, and sometimes I take advantage of my employees, but that has nothing to do with my relationship with my wife and kids.  Who I am at work is not who I am at home.”

Contrast this with the wisdom of God’s Word.  In Proverbs 23, we read:

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;

7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.

This is a teaching given throughout the Bible–that the heart is where our behavior and actions originate.  Similarly, Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Address the real problem

All of us want to thrive in life–and particularly those of you who’ve come to this site to find tools and resources to do just that.  But the first step in moving forward is to recognize that our “less than thriving” behaviors in the various aspects of our lives are rooted in our heart.  The man who mistreats his employees has a heart problem.  And this problem of the heart will manifest itself everywhere in his life.

To insist that poor behavior in one area in life has nothing to do with other areas of life is dangerous because it refuses to recognize the real connections within your own person.  And without clear understanding of the cause of a problem, no true change can be made.

What are your “unseen connections?”

Take a moment to consider personally, “what aspects of my life have I been neglecting?”  If your life is a wheel made up of five spokes (physical, financial, spiritual, relational, career), which spoke is deficient and giving you a wobbly wheel?

Try to seek out the connections between parts of life where you aren’t thriving and the negative effects that they produce in other areas of your life.  Do you hate your job?  Do you then come home angry and fight with your spouse?  Or perhaps you’ve not exercised in months, and notice that you just don’t have the energy level to care for your family that you once did.  By identifying the negative results that you most dislike and connecting them to their causes, you’ll find the motivation to make the investments of time and energy needed to thrive in one area, bringing success in both areas.

The bonus

That’s what’s so great about starting to understand how these areas relate–you improve the area that needs improvement, but you get a bonus in other areas.  The clearest example of this is the area of fitness.  When you spend time exercising your body properly, you’ll notice an improvement to your physique.  But you get a bonus benefit in your work life, as you have better energy levels and can be more productive.  And you’ll likely notice an improved relationship with your spouse, as your frustrations have been taken out on a barbell instead of your lover!

The connections between these areas of life are complex and seemingly infinite.  Some, like the examples above, can be understood and generalized.  Others are known by God alone.  Yet as we understand more and more that our behavior and the results of our behavior stem from the heart, we work to thrive in each area to the satisfaction of ourselves and the glory of our Maker.

Fill Your Toolbox

As you probably have noticed, most of the time here at TotalThriver, we typically feature an article each week to share ideas or concepts about how you can thrive in your fitness, finances, or faith.  I hope these articles encourage you to think and reflect on the various issues and take action based on new knowledge or understanding.  However, most of the how is usually left to you.  Today, we’ll try to remedy this by getting a bit further into the details!

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Find the Perfect Fit for You

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to look over the ThriveFit page previously, let me encourage you to go there now and check out the first five workouts of our recommended program.  Click the link above or the ThriveFit tab at the top of the homepage.  All workouts are conveniently split into three difficulty levels, so no matter your current fitness level, we have the perfect fit for you!

Hot Off the Press

For those that have seen the ThriveFit program in months past, we have a great new addition for you:  demonstrations and descriptions of some of the most important movements in the ThriveFit program.  Check out the Exercise Demos page here, and spend a few minutes learning a new movement–I promise each one will challenge you in a useful and different way, helping you to become a more rounded athlete and person.

One Movement to Improve Your Entire Body

In particular, today I’d like to highlight a brand new addition to the exercise demo page:  the snatch.  This powerful and complex movement can unlock new levels of fitness and strength for you, and though it’s difficult to master, the reward is great.  Incidentally, the video used in this demonstration was recorded just a few days ago, and came due to my competing in the 2013 CrossFit Open.  If you’d like to see the entire workout in context, feel free to check out my athlete profile page or watch my complete video here.

Why a Watch?

When you visit the ThriveFit page, you may notice that an unusual piece of equipment is required for nearly all of the workouts recommended there:  a stopwatch.  Unlike many workouts that you’ll see people doing in your local gym, our regimen involves completing a certain number of repetitions during a discrete period of time.  Is there a good reason for working out this way?  What are the advantages and benefits?  In today’s article, we’ll answer these questions and unpack how this strategy can help you reach your fitness and physique goals!

C&M Posing!

Better Challenge, Better Results

Most ThriveFit workouts take a form like the following:  with a continuously running stopwatch, complete three rounds of:  15 pushups, 20 lunges, 30 jump rope jumps.  Your goal is to complete all the reps in as little time as possible.  One of the beauties of this method is that whether you’re very fit or a complete beginner, this workout can challenge you.  The fitter you are, the lower your time will be, but as long as you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, you’ll be worn out by the last rep.  And if you’re super fit, you can always adjust the workout up by adding more rounds.

Intensity Through Competition

A second benefit of keeping track of the time it takes you to complete a workout is that it promotes competition.  This competition could be between (1) you and a friend, or (2) you and yourself.

In previous articles, we’ve explored the many ways that having a training partner helps push you to greater heights and keeps you motivated and accountable.  By committing to a program like ThriveFit with a friend, you have the added benefit of being able to compete for the fastest time.  If you and your friend have a fitness disparity, you can even adjust the workouts up or down for one of the partners to cause a close finish every time.  For example, perhaps the workout for the day is: as many rounds in possible of: 8 clean and jerks 115#, 15 pushups.  If one training partner is a little stronger, he may use 135# while his partner stays with the recommended 115#.

A Worthy Competitor

Even if you aren’t able to find a workout partner right away, timing your workouts allows you to compete with yourself.  As you progress through the ThriveFit workout plan, keep track of your scores and times in a notebook or a spreadsheet.  Them, make sure to go through the list from time to time and recomplete workouts that you’ve done previously.  You’ll have your old time in mind while you’re doing the workout, which will push you to move faster and leave your old records in the dust!

Not only do your previous times help you push yourself harder and faster, but you’ll also have a clear basis for tracking your progress.  As your times go down and your loads go up, you’ll feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Depending on your fitness goals, you may be tracking things like your weight and body fat percentage already, but an even more test of how you’re doing is to track how long it takes you to do 3 rounds of: 15 snatches 95#, 15 pull-ups!

Improve In Multiple Ways

And finally, keeping time while you complete an entire workout turns a strength-only scheme of exercises into a strength, endurance, and stamina challenge.  Most people’s workout program involves doing 10 reps of bench press, stand around for 5 minutes, 10 more reps, stand around more, 10 reps, etc.  Not only are they wasting lots of time getting through a workout, but that rest between sets allows them to catch their breath each time.  Conversely, the ThriveFit workouts keep your body moving constantly, resulting in a challenge to your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular strength and stamina.  Incidentally, this is a good reason to keep your rest periods short in the cases where you can’t complete a full ThriveFit workout without stopping.  Keep your rest periods to just a few seconds if you must take them, and get back in and knock out a few more reps.  Having shorter, more frequent rests will give you a shorter time and a better challenge than taking longer, less-frequent rests.

Our Network is for You

Today we’ve shown just a few of the many benefits associated with working out with a timer.  By timing the entire workout, you promote competition between yourself and others (or at least yourself and yourself), you have a means of tracking your progress, and you get to challenge your body more completely, which ultimately leads you to reaching your fitness goals more effectively.  Be sure to let us know how you’re doing along the way by sharing comments on the ThriveFit workout pages!  Happy training!

Small Changes for Big Results

We’re just about to begin the second week of the new year—how are you doing on your goals so far?  If you’re like most of us, this week it will be harder than last week to stick with your new habits.  As the excitement of pursuing a better or healthier life wears off, we all are very tempted to revert back into old ways that are familiar.  How can we head this tendency off at the pass?

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This Is Hard

I find it helpful to recognize that creating a new habit or doing what you’ve never done before is difficult.  Take fitness for example:  it may not seem like a very tall order to work out for 15 minutes for 4 or more days per week, but especially if you’re accustomed to 0 workouts per week normally, the new habit will be a challenge to acquire.

Hard, but Temporarily So

After recognizing that maintaining a new habit it difficult, it’s also important to recognize that it won’t always be so hard to maintain.  After you breech the 30-day mark, you’re essentially built a new routine and continuing with it is much easier.  So, when it’s hard to choose the apple over the slice of cake on day 18, be encouraged by remembering that your good habit of healthy eating will soon be much easier.

Keep Your Eye On What Matters

Thirdly, you’ll do best to focus on being consistent with the habit instead of demanding perfection of yourself every day.  For example, if your new habit is to get fitter, focus on getting to the gym for a workout at least 3 times per week.  Even if you don’t have a killer workout every time, you’re reinforcing the good habit of getting to the gym.  Later, once you own the habit, you can focus on getting the most out of each minute you’re at the gym.

Find an Encourager

And finally, seek accountability from winners in your life.  If you’d like to become more regular with your Bible devotions, find a godly friend and ask if he would be willing to meet with you once a week and let you share what you’ve learned in your devotions that week.  The coming meeting will help motivate you to spend time in the Word each day so that you have something to share at the meeting.  A great friend like this can be a great encouragement too in those times when you fall or fail—helping to pick you back up and help you get back on your good track.

Let’s Go Together

Good habits are hard to acquire, but once acquired, they can take us to extraordinary places.  Never underestimate what 20 minutes per day can do to improve your life when it’s toward a valuable purpose and repeated consistently for a lifetime.  Let’s make 2013 the beginning of your thriving life!

Your Body Isn’t Yours

Most of the time, when people hear the word stewardship, they think they’re about to hear a sermon about how the pastor wants them to give more money to the church.  If this is your understanding of this term, prepare to hit the reset button.  Stewardship means to manage well something that’s in our possession, but doesn’t really belong to us.

Stay at My Place!

Think of a time where a friend has let you borrow his car, or spend a weekend at his lakehouse.  How did you treat his stuff?  If you’re a good friend, you took great care to use your friend’s property well, avoided damaging it, and cleaned up when you were finished.

Bakers lake

In much the same way, it is important that we recognize that we are not truly owners of our life, money, or even the body we have.  These and all things are gifts from our Heavenly Father, to be used for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Need Motivation?

Understanding the concept of stewardship in regard to our physical body has a radical effect on one’s desire to begin and maintain a fitness regimen.  Instead of sitting on the couch thinking, “which sounds more fun, an intense 20 minute workout or watching another episode of Lost?  Hmm…  I think I’ll just forget the workout today,” a person who understands stewardship feels compelled to care for his body through proper exercise.  Just as you make time to change the oil in your car to avoid engine seizure, you are inherently motivated to maintain your physical body to honor and serve the One who entrusted it to you.

Start Today

Make fitness a priority in your life today by clicking the ThriveFit tab above.  You’ll find recommended workouts for all fitness levels and many other resources to assist you in your fitness journey.  Here’s to a fitter and healthier 2013!!

The Key to Getting Fit

Merry Christmas to all you TotalThrivers out there!  I’m sure that like me, many of you ate enough food in the past few days to feed a small army!  Some people feel bad after such a spree of overeating, leading them to seek out resources like our ThriveFit page to shed a few pounds and get back into shape.  It’s a good idea to work toward better health, but often these resolutions to “do better” fade after a few weeks or months, and instead of looking and feeling better, the person will feel even more like a failure for their lack of follow-through.  If you have the desire to live healthier, take advantage of the fire you have now by applying the most significant key to success in fitness or any other area of life:  adopting new habits.

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Our natural inclination after a week-long (or month-long) spree of overeating and inactivity is to overcorrect.  We think that to even out the 1000 calorie dinner yesterday, we should break our year-long fast of jogging by running 5 miles.  We take the high enthusiasm to get fit and convert it into a short burst of high activity.  But we tend to neglect a few important steps.

The Big Challenge:  Change

First, we fail to recognize that adopting a fitness routine involves one of the most difficult things there is:  changing a person’s habits.  This is particularly difficult to do when the person who needs changing is you!  One big mistake at this point is that we try to accomplish this feat alone.  Accountability is absolutely essential to get into and stay with the routine of working out regularly, week after week.  Find a friend who is passionate about fitness.  Preferably, this person already has the habit of keeping fit, but another newbie is ok too if they’re really serious about getting in shape.  Decide how often and for what duration you will both commit to working out, and identify the specific times you’ll workout each week and how you’ll communicate your plans and results.

Write it Down

This leads right into the second necessary step for getting and staying fit:  setting goals and writing them down.   Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.  For example, you’d ideally want to sit down with your ThriveFit partner and lay out something like the following:

We’re committing to working out 4 times per week for 30 minutes.  We’ll meet on Mondays at 7:00 pm at John’s house, Wednesdays at 7:00 am at Peter’s house, and on Thursdays we’ll meet over lunch for a run or bodyweight-only type workout.  Each Friday afternoon, we’ll email each other to figure out a workout to be done Saturday (each on our own) and we’ll send text messages to each other on Saturday to verify when the workout is complete and to share scores.

Between now and January 1, John’s goal is to reduce his one-mile run time below 7:00 minutes and lose 10 pounds.  During the same period, Peter’s goal is to increase his 5-rep maximum of deadlifts above 225 pounds and to trim 3 inches from his waist.

Instant Feedback

Notice how this is a specific plan with set dates and times and clear markers to shoot at.  The reason this is such an important step is that it gives you a standard to measure yourself against for immediate feedback should you start to falter.  Without this plan, you’ll tend to let your fitness regimen slip little by little as the days go by, until you are left back where you started, and with a vague sense of dissatisfaction with yourself.  With clear goals and a specific schedule to reach them, you’ll know immediately when you’re getting off course.  In addition to that, the goal or dream that you’ve identified will help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like working out.

Let Us Help!

Remember, changing habits is hard, and our aim is to create good long-term habits for a fit life.  Don’t kill yourself on the first day such that you can’t move tomorrow.  Keep your focus on identifying and executing healthy and sustainable habits.  To support the new demands on your body, you will also do well to consider your diet and supplement choices.  Our ThriveMart store has a wide array of meal bars and shakes, sport drinks, and plant-based vitamins and supplements to promote your health, recovery, and weight-loss as you take the journey to a healthy life.  Just comment on our facebook page or send us a message and we’ll help you identify the right product for you.

And as always, be sure to check back with us each week for motivation and encouragement along the way—we’re here to help you thrive!

Why Not Machines?

Here at TotalThriver, we’re always emphasizing bodyweight exercises and barbell lifts.  Why don’t we ever suggest using those machines that fill the typical “fitness center?”  In today’s post, we’ll take a look at where these recommendations come from.

What Are You Aiming At?

Why did you first decide to adopt a fitness regimen?  To look better? To be able to climb a flight of stairs without getting winded?  Or perhaps to improve your performance in your favorite sport?  The great thing about bodyweight workouts and free weight workouts is that they are ideal for every one of these things.  The fundamental reason for this is that when you lift your bodyweight or pick up a barbell with correct form, you’re using your body as a complete system, with each muscle automatically being used in proportion to how your body was designed to function.

Avoid Huge Biceps and Tiny Calves

Not surprisingly, by training your body in this way, you’ll naturally develop a proportional look.  Unlike in bodybuilding, where you isolate muscles using machines and pulleys, a bodyweight and free weight regimen involves compound lifts.  For example, to take a barbell from the ground to your chest, then up over your head, you must use your calves, hamstrings, quads, abs, back, chest and shoulders.  By doing this lift within a circuit, as recommended in the ThriveFit program, you’ll also challenge your heart and lungs.  Over time, this will build you into a versatile and proportional athlete, capable of physical feats you won’t believe.

Move Your Friend’s Piano

In addition to working large muscle groups proportionally, bodyweight and free weight lifting strengthens all the small stabilizers throughout your body.  For example, in the “press,” you take a barbell in the standing position, and push it up over your head.  This movement not only strengthens the entire shoulder and upper pectoral muscles, but in order to control and balance the weight throughout the lift, your entire core needs to be engaged, along with the traps and small muscles in the neck and upper back.  Over time, this will strengthen your entire body as a system, not only making you capable of moving more weight easier, but helping you avoid injury as well.

Getting Cut

The final benefit we’ll discuss today relates to fat reduction.  One common reason for exercising is to trim down and get a leaner look.  A regimen like ThriveFit is ideal for fat burning, because compound lifts like clean and jerks or pull-ups recruit lots of energy from the large muscle groups involved.  Not only does this burn large amounts of calories during the workout, but as your body recovers post-workout, it will consume a great deal of energy rebuilding your muscles after the workout.  And with stronger muscles, your body will need more calories in the days and weeks to come simply to operate your now-stronger muscles.  Keep the same diet (don’t increase calorie intake) and you’ll quickly develop a significant calorie deficit, leading to a lower body fat percentage and a great lean look.

Start Today!

Of course, there are a great many more benefits to a high-intensity bodyweight and barbell training regimen than the few I’ve outlined today, but these will give you a good idea of some of the great benefits available to you through ThriveFit.  As with nearly everything we suggest around here, you can give this a try for yourself and take note of what happens!  I’m confident that if you dive in and stick with the program, you’ll quickly find the truth of these claims.  Enjoy your healthier and fitter life!  🙂

Have You Any Excuses?

One of my major missions is to spend time around people who are living well.  I want to be around people who inspire me, who are succeeding in areas of life I’ve yet to master, and who thrive in all aspects of their lives.  When I meet and talk to people like this, I always notice that they’re all lacking one thing:  excuses.

Obstacles yes, excuses no

What’s even more significant than their lack of excuses is the fact that in many cases, they had huge obstacles in their way when they began, and often at many points along the way.  Sometimes, they’re facing a trial currently, but somehow still succeed despite it.

What I’ve realized is that these men and women are not exempt from the difficulties that you and I face from day to day; rather, they have adopted the attitude of an overcomer.  Instead of trying to accomplish things, and then giving up when it gets hard, these people just keep working.  They’ll try one idea to improve their life (health, marriage, career, etc.), and if that idea didn’t work, they’ll seek another solution.  Whatever roadblocks come up are seen by them as temporary—just problems to be solved.

Don’t Be Normal

During the time when normal people, who have given up after the first few tries didn’t work, are loudly broadcasting all their excuses for why they couldn’t win, overcomers are still working.  They know what they want, they’re willing to reach out to mentors for advice, and above all they keep trying until they attain the result they set out for.

What area of your life do you desire new success in?  Will you be willing to take on the attitude of an overcomer and pursue a thriving life?  The resources to reach your potential are all at your fingertips, and the only question that remains is what you will do!