Getting started with a new training programme or nutrition plan is often the easiest bit. It’s new, it’s novel; and you’re filled with hope that it’ll lead you to your desired results.
Starting is the easy bit.
And, I know what you’re thinking: starting isn’t that easy.
But once you’ve taken that first step and you’ve had the big initial surge of motivation and excitement for all the new, what is it that keeps you going?
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re in this for the long-haul – not just the first couple of weeks:
Write things down
Write down your goals. And write down the steps you’re going to take to get there.
Be specific. The more specific you can be, the more it turns into an actual plan – not just another pipedream.
I recommend doing this on a regular basis. I get my Strong Habits clients to write stuff down at least once a week – but they’re encouraged to journal daily.
If you spend five minutes every night writing down what you’re going to do tomorrow, and make a small, daily promise – something that is achievable and realistic – you’ll build your self-efficacy and your trust in yourself that you are a person who achieves that.
Every time you keep a promise you tell yourself you are worth keeping promising for.
And everytime you take the time to write down what you’re going to do, you give yourself a chance to actually think about it.
The problem most of us face – going through life generally but also when it comes to doing a new thing – is that we don’t really think about it. We are not intentional in our actions and we don’t work through the problems that arise and come up with plans.
Taking the time to journal every day can make a massive difference.
Ask yourself: What went well today; what didn’t go well; what will I do tomorrow.
Build consistent habits
Your habits are your foundations. If you can get into a routine of going to the gym or eating your vegetables, then when your motivation to do those things is low, you will probably do them anyway. Because they’re things you do now.
If you can be really consistent with this, it means that even on your worst days, you’ll still do better than you’d do on most average days before you started.
You move your benchmark.
Building habits takes consistent effort and reinforcing the same patterns over and over again. But it’s worth it.
It’s easier if you tack new habits onto existing ones. Like flossing after you brush your teeth. Or pacing the platform while you wait for a train.
Stuff that you’re doing anyway.
Set performance and habit-based goals
Take a look at your end goal and think about what you’d have to do to get there.
Then make some other goals along the way.
Deadlift 50kg. Then 100kg. Bench press bodyweight. Run 5k. Do a chin up.
Go to the gym three times a week. Eat 6 different vegetables a day. Hit your step count.
It takes that long term goal and let’s you tackle it on a day-by-day basis. It’s less daunting that way. It feels less far away. You don’t need to worry about the end goal. You just need to worry about this week; this day.
You just need to focus on what you’re doing right now.
Make things part of your social life
If you always go out for drinks with your friends, maybe you can start adding an activity; or changing the activity all together.
Go for walks or play games or try new things. There are so many things you could do with your friends apart from getting pissed every weekend.
You might even find it makes you all closer.
That doesn’t mean stop drinking. But if boozing is throwing you off, find ways to reduce how much it is impacting you. And remember that you don’t need to always get drunk whenever you’re having a drink.
I really recommend walking as an activity. It’s cheap and it’s nice to go outside and it gives you a chance to talk to your buddy – and you’re doing them a favour too.
You can also try making friends with other people in the gym. This makes a huge difference. It allows you to make gym dates with them, which gives you a reason to come in. It makes the whole thing much more fun. And also makes the gym feel more like home.
Motivation isn’t always enough
You are not going to wake up every day motivated to eat vegetables and go to the gym.
That’s not how it works. Even fitness professionals are not constantly pumped full of motivation – no matter how it seems on social media.
The difference between people who can successfully stick to the plan and those that throw in the towel is the discipline. And if you can lay those foundation habits while motivation is high, it’s going to make it easier to keep going when it’s low.
If you can focus on the daily tasks at hand instead of always looking at the end goal, it makes it much less overwhelming.
And if you can consistently ask yourself what your intention is, it makes it much easier for you to make choices that serve you.
Because you are in control of your own actions. You don’t need to wait around for the motivation faeries to grant you energy. You can just do it – if you want to. You can do anything, if you want to. And you need to keep asking yourself what you want.
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