So you want to get strong.  Or lose weight.  Or both. . .

But you’ve “wanted” to do these things since Kris Kross would make you jump and you still bought CD’s at the mall.  Day after day, year after year, you want to get in shape but you still get side tracked by drinks at happy hour and Jersey Shore reruns.

The problem isn’t desire.  You want to get in shape every time you pinch that roll of fat on your waistline as you look in the mirror when you get dressed in the morning.  The real issue is a lack of focus because you have not fully committed to your goals.  And by that I mean you have not put yourself in a situation where failing to accomplish your goals will cause more pain than maintaining the status quo.

I’ve been there plenty of times myself. . . pushing myself during workouts because I enjoy the physical exertion but half-stepping on the diet because I also enjoy pizza and beer.  And that’s a sucker’s game.  No training regimen is ever going to negate a crappy diet.

When I was ready to get serious about getting back into top shape I did something I hadn’t done in 3 years – I booked a photo shoot.  I realize that might sound vain but it’s also necessary on occasion in my line of work.  I put myself in a situation where I had to be in top shape in 6 weeks or I would waste a significant amount of money.  Also, the photographers I booked had worked with a couple of other bloggers that I know, respect, and consider friends – so I didn’t want word to get back that I showed up to my photo session looking soft and out of shape.

And that is the essence of my 3 step formula that forces you to focus and reach your fitness goals.  If you really want to get “motivated”, if you really want to finally get rid of that “final ten pounds”, I have a 3 step formula to get you there:

Step 1:  Set A Deadline

I’m tempted to say this is the most important step.  But in reality a deadline doesn’t do much with out the consequences of steps 2 and 3 in place.  But setting a deadline is still necessary if for not other reason than to set the trip-wire for what ever the costs of failure may be.  With nearly all goals, a line must be drawn as to when accomplishment will be reached.  Make your deadline realistic, but don’t be afraid to be somewhat aggressive.  Most of the times we are stronger than we realize and can accomplish much more under time constraints.

Step 2:  Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

My photo session cost me $250.  Not a huge sum, but considering I had just ended my main source of income it was a significant sum for me.  Was it worth it? Hell yes.  Not only did the risk of wasting that amount of cash keep me motivated to get in shape, but the good folks of Six4Eleven delivered above and beyond the call of duty.  I highly recommend their services if you’re looking for photos or anything in the digital design realm (they are also part of the Spyr Media crew behind the new look of this blog).

Step 3:  Use Social Pressure

Now I’m not talking about walking around with the Scarlet Letter branded on your forehead, but social pressure can be a major incentive to reach your goals.  The social pressure for me was upped because the photos were taken in an open public setting.  We used the gym I used to work out at in Austin and it was during normal business hours that I was walking around shirtless while three photographers snapped away.  And like I mentioned previously, I knew the photographers had previously worked with people I know and respect so I didn’t want word to travel back that I showed up to the session out of shape.

So How Do YOU Do It?

I’m not suggesting that you should schedule a barely-clothed photo shoot.  You can use the deadline/cash/social pressure formula in other ways. . .

Sign Up For That Race.  Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of endurance training.  But if that 5K, 10K, or Triathlon is calling your name then DO IT.  You’ll have a deadline for the race.  It will cost you some cash (probably much more than the event fee with shoes, your cute new running shorts, etc.).  And most endurance events have LOTS of participants and spectators. . . you don’t want to be the person on the side of the road with the EMT’s attending to them, do you?  I didn’t think so – the trifecta of deadline/cash/social pressure has just been met.

Go To The Beach!  You go on vacation twice per year every year.  But you go to land-locked big cities when your heart really wants to feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your face as you listen to the waves crash.  But you’re petrified to wear a swim suit in public.  Schedule that damned beach vacation.  It will have a firm date, there will be plenty of money at stake, and your own self consciousness will provide plenty of leverage to keep you on track with diet and training for the weeks leading up to the get-away.

Put It On Blast.  The Internet is an amazing thing. . . For every silly dog video there is a moving piece of film.  Granted there is plenty of opportunity to waste time online, but there is also the opportunity for helping you achieve your fitness goals.  Jump into one of the online fitness forums and announce your goals.  That might provide a little social pressure leverage but not as much as if you were so bold as to post “before” and “after” pics.  You could even start your own blog (very easy and free via Blogger and other sources).  But what about the risk of monetary loss?  Perhaps announce on what ever forum or blog you choose that you will donate X amount to a charity that speaks to you (I favor the Wounded Warior Project) if you fail to reach your goal.  There are still ways to engage that financial component, even if you are working exclusively in the online realm.

If you are serious about finally reaching your fitness goals, then you have to get some damned leverage over yourself!    Harness laser-like focus by setting a deadline, putting your money where your mouth is, and using social pressure.

Stay strong,

P.S.  If you want personalized help to keep you focused on reaching your fitness goals, I still have two more slots open in my Custom Coaching program.  Learn more about it by clicking here.

How do you stay focused to reach your fitness goals?  Do you use financial incentives and social pressure?  What else keeps you focused?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.