If you’re not progressing, ask yourself these two questions by Coach Jen
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a ‘point of arrival’ in life. Instead, I see life as a continual journey of progressing, growing, and becoming more. Whether it be with my career, relationships, health, fitness, character, spirituality, these are all aspects of my life where I don’t ever want to settle. The idea that the I can continue to grow until the day I die is prettttty inspiring! I guess that’s part of the reason I love lifting so much. I jokingly talk a lot about the ‘gainz,’ but really, I love the idea that I can keep progressing, lifting more, and improving my physique with every session in the gym. And it’s that same fire for progress that I find spills over into other areas of my life. Life gainz, naw mean?
The process of life and the many experiences we collect will surely result in our growth naturally, but sometimes, unless we’re intentional in certain areas, we won’t progress, and we may even regress. Take health, for example. Unless you’ve made healthy eating habits, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management a part of who you are, it’s quite possible that you could be gaining weight, or feeling stressed, exhausted and run down. It’s not until you’re intentional about creating healthy habits that you reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
But life can be hectic and demanding, so how do we ensure that we’re avoiding complacency and constantly progressing in all areas of our lives?
What do you value?
First, I like to start with this question: what do you value? The values-lense is a useful tool for figuring out what areas of your life you should be more intentional about. Where you’re spending most of your time and energy should be reflective of the things you value most. So, for example, if you were to rank ‘family’ higher on your list of values than ‘career,’ but you work 60 hours a week and spend only 2 hours with your family weekly, well… something's not quite lining up. ‘Family’ would then be identified as an area in which you could be more intentional. Similarly, if you say that you value your health, but you’re not spending any time cooking at home or exercising, then, again, something’s gotta give. I recently came across a quote that gets the point across perfectly, “If you say you value something, but you’re not spending any time on it, then you should either change how you spend your time or what you say your values are.”
You can use the values-lense to make big life decisions like moving across the country, but also small decisions, like “Do I want to eat this cupcake?” If you’re trying to slim down and you have the option to order a cupcake with your morning coffee, your efforts to slim down should dictate that you pass up on the morning pastry. But, if you’re celebrating your daughter’s 1st birthday, suddenly, sharing a cupcake with your family becomes more valuable than your fat loss efforts. One cupcake isn't going to make or break your progress, and your daughter only turns one once, so celebrate.
What are the barriers?
Once you’ve identified your values and thus the areas of your life that could use more attention, the second question you should ask yourself is this: what are the barriers? What is getting in the way of you achieving your goals or growing in a certain area? This question is important for two reasons. One, if you can identify your barriers, you’ll then be able to come up with a plan to navigate them. Two, you’ll stop using barriers as excuses. Let’s take the common excuse that, “I don’t have enough time.” If you're not willing to act on it, what this really means is that you don’t value whatever it is you’re referring to more than the other things in your life. If time truly is a barrier to something you value, then it would be useful to come up with a strategy to navigate that.
Recently I was working with a nutrition client, and we identified ‘eating more vegetables’ as an area of opportunity for growth. Instead of simply telling them to “eat more vegetables,” I asked what was getting in the way of their efforts to eat veggies. One of the identified barriers was time. Vegetables can take a lot of time to wash, cut, and cook, and when you’re hungry, it’s pretty easy to skip em. The solution? Have veggies prepped ahead of time. The client was intentional about taking a few minutes at the beginning of the week to prep and cut all of their vegetables for the week ahead. This may seem like a hassle at first, but the good news is, the more you do something, the less intentional you really have to be about it. Once something becomes a habit, it’s just part of who you are, and you can move on to the next area of opportunity.
So, what do you value? And what are your barriers? These are two of the most important questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you never settle. Stay after those life gainz.