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In the second part of our 'achieving your goals' series, lifestyle coach Effie Parnell-Hopkinson gives her top tips on how to keep the motivation going in order to stick to your goals.
We are one week in to 2019! How are your resolutions holding up so far?
Whilst the research suggests that 30% of us don’t even make it to the two-week mark, don’t give up just yet as it may just be time to reassess and re-evaluate your resolutions to set you up for further success. The key here is to go back to what made you slip up initially and go through a course-correcting process to make sure you come back stronger and get yourself back on the right path. Firstly, it is important to recognise that no one can change their behaviour overnight as I mentioned in the first blog of this series. A change of behaviour takes consistent, focused work broken down into manageable and achievable steps. However, most people set their resolutions far too high and end up falling at the first hurdle. Starting to see where you might have gone wrong?
Going into the New Year, your motivation is sky high (after the initial hangover obviously), you have all your resolutions, goals and dreams pinned up in front of you and a motivational quote as the background on your phone. However, after hitting the gym 5 times in your first week, like you said you would, you’re now tired, sore and HUNGRY.
And do you know why? Because the eager, motivated you thought that going to the gym 5 times a week after having a good month off over Christmas was a great idea. Wrong! Start with small, digestible mini goals that are reasonably easy to hit that keep you aligned with your main resolution.
So instead of aiming to hit the gym 5 times a week, set the goal 3 times a week. Then once you go 3 times, you have already won, which in turn keeps you motivated and from there you can slowly increase your mini goals to keep progress ticking along. This method needs to work in conjunction with ingraining new habits into your routine. If you really want to set yourself up for success then habits are a fundamental element you need to include. Without habits, the inevitable happens and those who do end up reaching their dieting or weight loss goals eventually gain all of the weight back (and usually even more)!
This is because habits are needed when it comes to building a bulletproof routine that will set you up for success both right now and long into the future. Your routine is what you do every day, and your routine is made up of a series of automated actions that you perform subconsciously, and those are called habits.
If you consistently remind yourself of why you started (both external and internal motivation) and start to integrate appropriate and healthy habits into your daily life, you’ll quickly realise that it’s not about ‘how long you can stick it out for’ or about forcing yourself to go to the gym. What it is really about is finding ways to actually look forward to exercising and enjoying the process. It’s about developing willpower exerted towards making simple lifestyle changes that are sustainable rather than drastic changes that won’t survive a week.
The process of creating good habits can be broken down into three parts; the cue that initiates the habit, the behaviour that is the outward manifestation of the habit, and the reward that reinforces the habit.
Let’s keep going with the example resolution of going to the gym. Now instead of focusing on ‘working out more’, shift your focus to developing a routine around initiating a workout. An easy way to start is to choose a cue that already is a part of your everyday routine, such as packing your bag for work. During the early stages of developing this new habit, focus your efforts on packing your workout clothes along with everything else. This will make it far more likely you’ll go to the gym after work, giving yourself an easy win!
After a period of time of consistent practice, you will notice packing your bag in the morning (the cue) and heading to the gym (behaviour/habitual response) after work becomes effortless.
An example of the reward part of the habit building process might be treating yourself to a healthy snack after the gym, scheduling in a post-gym swim/sauna or watching an episode of your favourite TV show, or even using the exercise itself as the reward (also known as runner’s high). The key here is ensuring you are incorporating a healthy reward into your routine.
If you feel like you have fallen off track with your resolutions, make sure you set manageable, small goals and focus on building healthy habits into your routine in ways that set yourself up for easy wins! Remember, all of this takes time but as long as you have gone through the goal-setting tips I spoke about in the last blog as well as the tips on habit-building in this blog then you will be back on track in no time!
Read Part 1: Achieving Your Goals - Intention