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3 of the most important things to focus on in 2017… And it has nothing to do with setting “SMART” goals!!!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Honestly, I am happy that 2016 is coming to a close! While a lot of good things have come to us this year, there have also been some difficult situations. Although, I am thankful to have learned something very important from 2016. The one thing I learned is that “emotion” has played a big part of many aspects of the events occurring this year. For example, we lost celebrities, loved ones, and a historical election has taken place that is causing some people to over react and become irrational. ( I talk below about how emotions fuled by anger or fear cause paralysis with our progression)

The resolutions and goals that are made over the next few days become broken only a few days later, forgotten all together by February 1. It does not matter who you talk to, one way or another, the same process happens over and over again each year. Then why do we do this year after year?

I have to admit, the idea of creating a S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Time frame) goal has a lot to do with the problem. I have heard about this acronym since I was about 16 years old. The same old boring speech and then we have try to create “SMART” goals each year only to see them fade away a few short weeks later.

I do not want to get into WHY setting this type of goal is a waste of time, just hear me out:

Here are three (3) key items that we must focus on to help us take control of our environment. If you do not have control (life, business, work, family, etc) how can you progress in a positive direction? It does not matter how “smart” our goals are, if we are not mentally or physically ready we will fail!

STATE– The state you are in now will dictate how you behave and how you will make decisions. A positive “state” of mind will enable you to think in better terms and help you stay focused. (The word focus is rather important and I will talk about this soon). Emotion can get you in big trouble. Two emotions that get most of us in trouble are: ANGER and FEAR. If you are experiencing emotions in either of these areas, you are not in ideal STATE to set goals or make decisions. The danger of emotions are such: wars have been started because of anger and fear, riots because of fear of the results of an election, and letting biography determine your destiny.

The state you are in will determine how you feel!!

STORY– Everyone has a story. Another word for story should be an “excuse.” When something happens to us, either negative or positive, we create a story about why that “something” happened to us. We can compare people with similar stories but each can have a different result. Compare 2 people with low back pain. Each ended up on pain killers, gaining excess weight, and eventually not being able to participate with the activities that make them happy. One decides that disability is their only option, genetics has caused this to happen since their mother had a bad back, and it hurts even more to move so they stop moving all together. The other decides that taking pain pills and still being IN pain is not worth being loopy and tired all day. They learn how to detox from medication, initiate an exercise program, and decide playing at the park with children or grandchildren is the most important part of their life.

STRATEGY– A strategy is a very powerful thing to have or own. It definitely does not come easily. People travel any where to find or learn strategies. We educate ourselves, both in the classroom and out, to try and find the “recipe” that can help us improve a business, fitness level, or improve overall health. A strategy is something that helps you re-create something over and over again with the proper ingredients. If you don’t know the strategy, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is ultimately pain, poverty, or weakness. While having the strategy is important, if we are not in the right state, because of a lame story, then the greatest strategy in the world will not improve our position.

I would like to show everyone how this was true and applicable to me. Around May of 2016, I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. I had all the intentions in the world to start training and get ready for this race. I was living in a very stressful state. We expanded the business from 2 to 4 clinics which required significant capital. Time spent in my company and away from home became an issue. When it came time to train, I felt like being away from family could be a problem. So it was easy for me to lose my focus.

I tried to turn it around in September and get ready for a short distance triathlon called the “Pumpkinman.” I felt the bug bite me at the end of that triathlon and I was determined to get going again with my training. September 20, my dad was diagnosed with end stage cancer and he passed away December 7, 2016.

My decisions controlled my life during this time. I was an emotional wreck and not in a state to adequately train and prepare. I know its ok that I put my family first. The time I spent with my father in the final days of his life was very important to me. The time I spend everyday with my family drives me to do what I do. They are my drive for everything I do.

Now, I need to re-focus on my strategy. Remember that word “focus?” This word helps shape everything and helps us determine the “meaning” of what we do.

For example, I have a triathlon coach who outlines my training plan and provides the strategy for me. All I have to do is follow it. So the strategy is not necessarily the most important to work on. I need to decide if I am in the right STATE to begin training. To get into the right state, I need to change my story. When I change my story, I will change my life.

The passing of a loved one has drawn me closer to my family. I know that I want to live a long healthy life with my family. I know what the strategy to be healthy is, and I am determined to create a story of achievement for 2017. While my 70.3 half Ironman time may not be what I want it to be due to lack of preparation, I know that my training will facilitate a long and healthy life with my family!! I will be better prepared to seek out new challenges and improve on my current progress as a runner, triathlete, and future obstacle course participant!!

To me, focusing on the above three items (State, story, and strategy) is far more important than setting goals or making resolutions that are broken and short term.

When you are ready and in a state to achieve one of the following; get away from taking pain killers, avoid unwanted surgeries, or get back to an active lifestyle, give me a call or email me to see what kind of strategy we can put together.

Happy New Year to all of you and your loved ones! Here is to bringing in a fantastic 2017!!!

Optimal Physical Therapist, Mike Russell smiling portrait

Mike Russell, PT, DPT, CSCS

Optimal Physical Therapy



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