In high school, I had little experience to put on your resume when applying to university. My academic advisor told me to put anything and everything I’ve done even if it wasn't related to the program I was applying to. He said there was always a skill that could transfer to show good workmanship. This idea of transferable skills is common and well known amongst the academic and working world.
However, I think it’s forgotten when it comes to our personal lives. Maybe you know how to organize your desk but not your closet. Or maybe you’re creative and resourceful at work but not when it comes to cooking. It’s not that you lack the skills to successfully lose weight; you simply don't see how you can transfer your skills. I have 5 skills you’ve likely developed in one part of your life that you can transfer into your weight loss journey.
Skill #1 Crystal Clear Goals
Often our weight loss goals are too vague. We give ourselves a goal of “I want to lose weight this year” and just leave it at that. I think we do this because if we’re not clear with our goals and we fudge up along the way we won’t feel as bad for messing up. In comparison, if you were very specific about wanting to lose five pounds this month and you don't reach it, it’s normal to feel disappointed and we try to avoid these feelings.
However, you need to be clear in our goals otherwise you can get stuck in a loop of creating a vague goal and not moving the dial forwards towards your success. It’s helpful to think of your goal as a goal post in soccer. The net is only so big. If you miss, you clearly miss. This makes it easier to know how to adjust and try again. They don’t try once, miss, and give up.
Skill #2 Vision of Success
Setting a goal is a great place to start but you can’t stop there. We rarely get clear on what success in this goal means to us, what it looks like, what it feels like. How do you know you’ll have achieved your goal? What will be different? Not just physically but also mentally. What will this achievement bring you? When you’re clear about your vision of success you increase your ability to achieve that success.
The key is to do this in a way that's uplifting rather than discouraging. I understand that some people don't like to do this because thinking about where they could be makes them feel bad about where they are right now. In your vision of success, there is no room for judgment or shame. You cannot move forward powerfully if you’re constantly beating yourself up along the way.
Skill #3 Detailed Plan of Action
Your goal post is set up. You know what scoring the goal will feel like. What will you do to see this through? Having a detailed plan of action is answering the questions of who, what, where, when, and how regarding your goal. I often hear people say “I’ll get a gym membership this year” as part of their plan, which is a great start but you have to take it a step further. When will you go? How often? For how long? What kind of exercise will you do?
It’s questions like this that you need to be clear on. It doesn't matter if you chose to completely overhaul your diet or simply start drinking more water. What are the necessary steps you need to take to start doing this? I recommend you take baby steps with your plan. Go slow and easy so that your changes become habits.
Skill #4 Boundaries
All of the work you’ve put in to be clear on our goals, a vision of success, and a plan of action will be thrown out the window if you don't have clear boundaries in place. Setting boundaries is hard and I believe that’s why we don't do it as often as we should. As uncomfortable as it may be, you need to set boundaries no only with yourself but also with those in your life. Boundaries are different from restrictions. I do not mean to be strict with your weight loss plan. Instead, I’m saying if you make a plan to work out at 8 pm Monday through Friday, then what warrants you to skip this appointment with yourself? Every time a friend invites you out? When you’re menstruating? Likewise, let’s say you’ve committed to not drink soda anymore. Are there any exceptions to this?
Being clear on boundaries is especially important at the beginning of your weight loss journey when you’re developing new habits. Breaking old habits and starting new ones has its challenges already so why not do everything you can to make it easier on yourself. Eventually, you’ll be able to be more lax with your boundaries.
Skill #5 Identifying Roadblocks
Identifying or anticipating roadblocks is something we rarely think about! I believe it’s rad when you pause and think about what has gotten in your way in the past and potentially what could get in your way in the future. You are saving yourself so much headache and pain from repeating past roadblocks and preparing yourself just a little bit better for future ones. Do you have a friend whom you can’t say “no” to? Do you have a pattern of saying YOLO when the weekend arrives? Identifying the root cause of patterns, seeing that they no longer serve you, and choosing differently is one of the most empowering things you can do.
Where to go from here
Have you used any of these skills in a different part of your life? If you have then you already know how they operate and you can transfer them into your weight loss journey. If you haven’t used these skills yet, before you start your next (and hopefully your last) weight loss plan, try implementing these steps. If you’re in the middle of one right now, you can still start to incorporate these ideas. In doing so you’ll start to see that you already possess many other skills that I haven’t mentioned here that can help you along the way.