When we correct an athlete’s movement in class or during a one-on-one session, we adhere to the following protocol:
1) Define the purpose (“We’re going to get you a little deeper on that squat”)
2) Provide clear direction. ONE thing to do. (“Push your knees out harder on the way down”)
3) Watch the next rep. Did it work? Close the loop and focus forward. (“Awesome job–that rep looked a ton better. Drive those knees out every rep!”)
The neat thing is, this protocol can work quite nicely when we look to address larger issues as well. Most of us would like to eat a little bit better, hit better workouts, get some additional quality sleep–there’s some thing we’d like to change, and addressing that change one step at a time with a pause for assessment is an excellent strategy for self-improvement.
If you’re looking to begin that process, here are three areas you’ll want to button up before you flip any switch:
1. Clear The Decks. To everything there is a season. As you decide what you’d like to change, make sure you have the bandwidth: if you’re looking to establish a gym routine 3-4x/wk but you’re travelling for business extensively over the next month, now might not be the right time to focus on getting that routine dialed in–perhaps you might focus on the quality of your workouts instead. If, however, you’re looking to improve your conditioning, you love training outside, and your job slows down after lunch during the summer, well, congratulations–the deck is clear! Get on out into the summer sun and train!
2. Your One Change Should Be The Biggest Change. You want to eat better, but you routinely skip breakfast and make some less than healthy choices in the company cafeteria by the time lunch rolls around. What’s the bigger rock–‘eat breakfast’ or the nebulous ‘eat better at lunch, cranky pants’? When we take a step back, the answer is usually fairly obvious and the cool thing is, it’s often enough the easier thing to do anyhow!
3. Be clear about what and how you are going to assess. You have some trouble getting to sleep so you’ve decided to read for thirty minutes before bedtime. Decide how you’re going to chart the effectiveness of the change you’ve made. Some do well with anecdotal reportage, journalling things like “falling asleep quicker now,” while others do well with more concrete data–maybe you have an app on your phone that charts sleep onset, duration, and quality. However you’re going to track the change, decide this in advance and follow through.
Change is hard. But it’s less so one step at a time. Give this process a shot and let us know how it worked out for you!