John Shackleton: Change Is Possible… When Motivation Is Key

Tried to change a bad habit many times but failed? John Shackleton, professional athlete turned performance expert, tells you the secret of motivation. Details of John at Speakers Connect.

As an inspirational speaker my job is to get people to take action on things they are failing to follow through on and one of the largest areas of procrastination is health and fitness. When I ask an audience about their goals the reply I hear from approximately 70% of my audience is: “I want to get fit and lose some weight”.

Let’s take the weight loss problem. Let me suggest to you that that isn’t actually true that you want to lose weight – what you really want to do is change shape! Now you might think that I’m being a bit pedantic but when you really think about it, most people wouldn’t care what the scales showed, if only they could fit into that special pair of jeans or that special party dress.

When you really think about it losing weight is the nasty negative TASK that you have to perform in order to get the positive pleasant GOAL that you really want. Now which thought do most people focus their attention on when they are dieting, the negative task or the positive goal?

Simple as it may sound switching the focus from losing weight to changing shape can really help especially if we continually focus on the shape we wish to be rather than the shape we are right now. If we put a picture of the shape we wish to be on the fridge and start to dream about that goal as often as we can we’ll begin to feel more positive about where we are headed.

However that’s not the biggest effect we can have on any health programme that we embark on. Motivation is almost always the key to getting the results we want in any endeavour. Despite what the magazines try and tell you, weight loss isn’t rocket science is it? I think we all really know what we need to do to lose weight – the problem is we aren’t always motivated enough to do it.

Let me ask you some simple questions to see if you can work out what you need to do to lose weight:

There are only 2 things you can do to lose weight. You’ll have to do more of one thing and less of another.

More of what and less of what?
Which diet is better for you; chocolate, chips and alcohol or fruit, vegetables and water?
Which exercise programme is better for you: Driving to work every day and taking the escalator up the 3 stories to your office or walking to work and then using the stairs?
So we’ve established that the problem isn’t knowledge, everyone knows what to do. The problem is staying focused and motivated for long enough to get the job done. We’ve all set new years resolutions and kept to our word for about 48 hours but then something happens to our will, the old habits take over and we give up. I would suggest that the real problem is that we didn’t put the motivation in place to keep us focused for the long term. I’m not suggesting that you don’t have a desire to lose weight – of course you do. What I’m saying is your wish for weight loss isn’t strong enough motivation to keep you on the path you have to be on to acquire the new habits.

A number of years ago a friend approached me about helping him to give up smoking. He’d tried to give up on loads of occasions but found it so easy to slip back into his old habits after a few days. This time he said he was 100% committed but he was worried his mood would change during his struggle to give up.

We talked about how difficult it would be to maintain his motivation levels over the coming weeks due to the fact it was Christmas time and all his friends and colleagues would be smoking at the social gatherings. He decided he would quit on January 1st and we came up with a plan to keep his commitment levels high.

As the owner of a company employing 35 people it was his job to make a speech at the Christmas party. So he stood up in front of his entire team, announced that he would be quitting and gave his employees a challenge. He said, “From January the 1st onwards if any of you ever see me with a cigarette in my mouth, I will give you £1,000 cash.”

He now had three options: Quit smoking for ever, sell his business, leave the country and never come back or go broke! He chose option 1 and has never smoked since. Now that’s what I call commitment.

For total commitment to a health and fitness goal try putting this 10 Step process in place immediately:

1. Stop looking for the easy way to health and fitness – there isn’t one.
Get some medical advice about your health and fitness from a fit and healthy doctor.
Join a gym or a swimming/cycling/running club, paying a years membership up front. Ask the assistant or coach to help set some short term goals within the chosen sport.
With the coach’s advice, enter a competition that will take place in three or four months time. Decide to do a 5km run, a short ocean swim, a 40km bike ride, anything that will force you to stretch yourself and train hard.
Tell all your friends the date of the competition and ask them to come along and support you when you compete.
Ask a dietary expert to help you with a four month weight loss goal and design a diet to achieve it.
Tell everyone you know of your goals and your action plans.
Book a venue for a celebration event and send out invites to all your friends to help you celebrate the achievement of your goal.
Buy the clothes you’ll wear to that event and hang them up next to the fridge.
10. On the invite you send to all your friends, tell them you’ll pay for all their food and drink at the event if you don’t achieve your weight loss and fitness goal.

If you feel that I’ve overstepped the mark with this approach then I suggest you may not be as committed to loosing weight as you originally thought you were. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the question is not whether the above approach would work, the question is do you have the commitment to work it?