You want to be a successful entrepreneur or have success with everything in your life, right? That means elevating your performance, and there’s no better way to help yourself accomplish that than by making exercise a regular and continuing part of your life. That’s top of mind for me now because, as I write this, we have just begun 2017, and the New Year’s resolutions noise is deafening. But by the time you read this, we’ll already be into March, and I can guarantee that many—too many—will have lost that resolve.

Why? Because in this day and age when everyone wants everything now, so many people are confronted with the reality that self-improvement is not a quick and easy thing to accomplish. It is more like a marathon than a sprint. So when they don’t achieve immediate results, they get discouraged, lose focus and give up.

It’s very similar to why businesses or ideas fail: No measurable or specific goal. Lack of focus or commitment. Lack of patience. Everyone wants everything now. And, oh, by the way, they want it to be easy, too.

Maintain that New Year’s focus

With the start of any new year, we often tend to refocus on our business and other areas of our life that need attention. But so many times, these efforts are short-lived or not a long-term lifestyle change.

It’s really easy to say, “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to make more sales calls” or “I’m going to do more real estate deals.” But these are delusions without specific measurement of both units and time.

Sound familiar? Don’t feel alone. We’ve all done it—whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or some life event that causes us to want to make a change. You might just need a little tweak to the way you approach your goals this time around. If your goal is long-term—and remember, most short-term goals are just Step One of a bigger goal—you need to think lifestyle change or long-term habit. Whether you look at building a business or building your health, each is a very long-term goal that you just have to make a part of your life. After a while, it just becomes part of your DNA. You get up and do it every day—it doesn’t matter what time, you just do it—because you’re on autopilot. You don’t have any other choice. It’s what you do. 

Every night I wander into my bathroom before bedtime and lay out my workout clothes and don’t even think twice about it. I exercise in the morning because I know work, family or other things often have a way of cropping up and getting in the way.

What’s your excuse? Well, that’s not good enough

Seeing Conner, a 12-year-old young man, when I was at the gym this morning made me realize there’s really no excuse for anybody to not exercise for one hour a day. Conner has no car, goes to school full time and was in the gym at 6 a.m.—certainly proof that all of our excuses are just rationalizations that we are too busy.

So, I ask you, what’s your excuse? Family stuff? Work is really crazy right now? Just too much to do to get to the gym? Or maybe you just want more sleep?

I think many people lose track of the one of exercising’s great by-products. It gives you an excuse to reset, unplug or plug in— as I often do, reading a book as I hit my cardio. Last year I read more than a dozen books while I was exercising. You say you can’t read while exercising? That’s no excuse. Audiobooks work great, too.

Oh yeah, there are some other great benefits to working out. For me, my mind is more agile, I’m more creative, and I sleep better when I work out. The smaller waistline is just a bonus of this lifestyle. I’ve gotten to the point that when I don’t work out, I’m kind of cranky. (Just ask Rhonda, my wife!) And I don’t want to just graze over the creativity aspect of exercise. I have some of my greatest (and worst) ideas during my exercise sessions. The challenge is to quickly note that great idea but not get caught up checking emails or texting while you have your phone out. Otherwise, a one-hour workout can quickly become a two-hour workout with only one hour of exercise. I send a lot of emails to myself to get ideas and thoughts out of my head and stay focused on my exercise time.

It’s a lifetime-long lifestyle marathon

You have to keep in mind, it’s a lifetime-long lifestyle marathon and not a sprint. So don’t go out and kill it on the first day, or you’ll be so sore that you don’t want to do it again. Start slow, work out with light weights or walk short distances. Have a small goal of adding a certain amount each week. It’s really pretty simple.

Too often people tend to overcomplicate it, maybe because of marketing or maybe because they think they can’t do it without someone else’s support. Last year, I injured my back, and it forced me to try something new, so I starting walking in the morning instead of going to the gym. Next thing I knew, within 60 days I was doing five miles every morning, walking at a 14-minute-mile pace. After that first two months, I started weaving in two to three minutes of running at intervals, and over that next 30 days, that pace got faster and faster, and I was running three to five miles. Keep it simple and build small goals that are sustainable, and you’ll have a winner.

You’ve got to make your goals measurable and reasonable. If you’re looking at your business, start with a set of small goals that get you to your larger goal. Three extra calls or tasks a day gets you more than 700 tasks over the year. When looking at exercise, if you’re out of shape and haven’t been to the gym for a while, it’s probably unreasonable to set a goal to lose 25 pounds in four weeks if you’ve got another 50 years left in your life. Losing 20 pounds over six months is very reasonable; 50 pounds over a year would be amazing. Keep in mind you need a goal that is sustainable and part of your everyday lifestyle.

People often say to me, “Ben, you’re in really good shape; how do you do it?” Exercise is just part of my life. I’ve been exercising four or five days a week for 15 years. Make your goal reasonable and keep in mind life is a marathon of a journey, and not a sprint. So many people burn out because they try to do too much too fast or without enough variety. They get discouraged because it’s practically impossible to keep up that pace up forever.

Mix it up!

The great thing about exercise, though, is that there are an endless number of choices, so mix it up. It doesn’t have to be a grind. Go to a spin or Zumba class. Stretch or do yoga. Cross-train on a treadmill, elliptical machine or bike, or go swimming. Work in some weight training or just get outside and ski, walk or hike.

Health comes first, and business is second. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not an either-or. I promise you, you will see a significant improvement in your attitude, confidence and businesses performance if you work on your health first. So make a plan to get in the gym or exercise at least four days a week. 

If Conner at 12 years old can get to the gym, certainly you can, too—or find yourself some other version of exercise.

Here’s to your continuing happy new year—and to a healthy business. 

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