This is an article written by Cassie White who is a Sydney based personal trainer, yoga coach and health journalist. While it is about getting fit it is also about human behaviour which transcends everything we do, including our attitude to being in business and wanting to get better at it. It’s a great read and in another context it could easily have been written by a business coach or journalist. If you’ve been thinking of improving your business but never seem to be able to get around to it, this article might just be for you……

You've vowed to get fit. Great. The thing is, it's a promise you've made to yourself before. So how can you tell if things will be different this time?

Change is hard. Mental, physical, geographical—it doesn't matter what form it takes, doing a 180 on years or even decades of ingrained patterns takes a truckload of commitment —and usually pain.

Every day I see people in various stages of change to their fitness and overall health. In my experience, the biggest thing that sets apart the success stories is the genuine desire for change. Plenty of people think they want change, but they don't really want it.

Wanting it isn't saying, "I'm finally going to lose those 15 kilos this year. But I'll start properly in April because I have a wedding every second weekend and it's too hard to stay sober".

Nor is it saying "I'm finally going to lose those 15 kilos this year. I'll sign up for a 12-week bikini body program, cut out carbs and start juicing".

Wanting it—really, truly wanting it—means accepting total responsibility for yourself and your actions, and seeing through your own flimsy excuses. It's valuing your health and taking the high road, and accepting all the hard work to come, rather than looking for the easy route of quick fixes.

I come across three main types of people in my gym:

Those who are crystal clear on why they need to change, know exactly what they want and are willing to learn a new way,
People whose pain (emotional or physical) is so great that they don't have any choice but to change,
People who say they want to change, but clearly don't because all their actions say the opposite.

How to accept responsibility for yourself

The first thing I do with a new client is find out where their head is at. Straight up I can tell who's going to stick around.

People who tap out early have lots of excuses from the start.
They have lofty weight goals, but only have time to exercise twice a week.
They already know everything about nutrition and exercise and aren't open to learning a new way, despite their way failing them time and again.
They actually don't know why they're there and procrastinate on doing the work to find out.

I feel compassion for these people because they aren't lying to me, they're lying to themselves and just aren't ready for change at this point. Taking responsibility for yourself is really hard, and we all avoid it at one point or another. Owning your actions means questioning hard-wired behavioral patterns and beliefs. When you stop burying your head in the sand, things get really uncomfortable. And that's where real change happens. It's messy and scary and eventually awesome. Trust me, I've seen it happen.

So you must be willing to become really present with yourself and pay attention to the contents of your head. Question everything that's going on up there, and you'll start to notice the barriers you put up.

Much of what goes on in our heads isn't helpful in the push for change.

Most common excuses not to exercise:

"I can't afford it" It's true, not everyone can afford a trainer. But gym memberships are about $20 a week for a huge variety of classes and equipment. You probably spend more on coffee or beer. Also, walking and jogging are free.
"I'm tired" Yep, we all are. Turn off the telly, put away your phone and go to bed earlier.
"I'm busy" I have corporate clients who work long hours every day, carry massive amounts of responsibility, then go home to young families. They make time to exercise.
"I don't like exercise" Chances are you've never really tried it. This is a great way of not taking responsibility for yourself.

So you think you can change?

To get healthy, you actually have to value your health. That seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how often a person's supposed desires and values don't align. Try this exercise I do with people:

· Get really specific on what you want to achieve, then put a deadline on it. On a scale of one to 10, you need to want that goal 10 out of 10.

Now imagine going through the process of making that happen: grinding away day after day, making sacrifices, feeling physically and emotionally uncomfortable, saying no to instant gratification in order to have long-term success, and potentially restructuring your entire life.

Can you realistically see yourself doing that?

If not, then you're probably not ready to change. It's okay, but you need to own that that's where you're at right now.

This article first appeared under ABC Health and Wellbeing news on January 23 2017. Its original title was “You say you want to get fit, but do you really?Observations from a personal trainer”