What would the expert think?

What’s your area of expertise? Do you have an area in your life where you have a much higher level of understanding than most people in your world? You may be a leading thinker in your career, you may know a huge amount about your hobby, your area of expertise may even be knowing everything about the Kardashians. When people think of this particular area - they think of you. 

One of the benefits of being an expert in a particular area is that you can identify when people go wrong due to a lack of understanding and knowledge in this area. In my world, this is something that a lot of fitness professionals experience. When an experienced fitness professional sits down with someone who is motivated to exercise but lacks the understanding of how to be successful in implementing it into their life their expertise can see the faults in their clients thinking. Personal trainers have repetitive experiences when a new exerciser tells them that they are going to try and exercise for up to six hours a week even though they haven’t done any exercise in a long time. The trainer’s job is to keep their clients motivated but to also manage their growth on an achievable path that will lead to long term exercise success. 

I know that I’ve seen many people who have set themselves up for failure with exercise due to planning that is based on a desire for change without the understanding of how to create a successful plan to achieve it. One of the greatest insights I’ve gained from these experiences is that it appears that for some people the more desperate they want change the more irrational their planning will get.  

I was working with a lady a while ago who wanted to lose some weight. She had been steadily gaining weight for a long time and was sick of being overweight so now was the time to make changes. She came to me with a plan that she had developed and to be honest as soon as I looked at it I thought to myself, ’she has no hope of maintaining this’. Her plan would be a challenge for even the most disciplined person, even if they were working 100% to achieve this.

After talking to her for a while about her habits a pattern started to form, she would want to change so she created an unrealistic plan which she would only maintain for a day or two. After a couple of days she would fail, and she would see herself as a failure and become an emotional eater which would then lead to her putting on more weight. It was a vicious circle. In her mind the only way through this cycle was to make a harder plan and to ‘stop being weak’. There was no way she could ever be successful with the way she was doing things and unfortunately every time she failed there was this massive negative reinforcement that she would inflict upon herself. 

As I worked through this with her, we created a realistic nutrition plan together that was mentally easy to maintain and over the next period of time she achieved her weight loss goals. The main reason she was successful was because the plan wasn’t hard, it’s was mentally easy for her to manage. 

When you think about the areas of your life where you want to create change do you approach them in ways where you are lacking the understanding of how to be successful? Do you set yourself up for failure from the first moment? If you have failed in the past do you then think that you have to create a harder plan that just requires you to be more disciplined? 

Maybe the next time you think about change a good question to ask yourself is: What would an expert in this area think about my plan? How would they approach this knowing the full picture of my life and what I can realistically achieve? In an ideal world you would get an expert on board to help guide you but if you can’t make that happen these questions can be a great way of you identifying any weaknesses in your plan and can help you make any tweaks needed to create success. 

Any change is hard so we need to remind ourselves that we need to create plans that develop success in ways that are realistic. The more we can become an expert in this part of our life, the more successful we will be in changing the areas we want to.


This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles