Many do not do the work needed to move from a new behaviour they want to become part of their lives, like exercise, to form it into a new habit that is done daily without question.
I appreciate this sounds sciency but if it was as simple as “just do it”, we would all be doing it. The forming of a habit is a whole science with dedicated research journals and thousands of books on the topic. You can get a whole degree on the topic if you want. We have been acclimatized that it is as easy as setting a goal to be successful and is the answer to establishing a new habit that you will carry on for the rest of your life. This is not just for exercise but for dieting, saving money, being mindful, having a hobby and preached for so many other things.
52 per cent of people polled say motivation is the reason they are not changing a behaviour that could have a positive impact on their health. We all go through periods of high and low motivations, that is normal. What is important is knowing what you can lean on in times of low motivation. The biggest post to lean on is your WHY. This is what can ground you. This is the reason you come back to when feeling like you want to pack it in. It is so very key to figure out why you are starting something like exercise and keep coming back to it again and again. Heck right it down and read it daily. Let the world know this is who you are becoming, and their support is important.
The second key is trying to find a way to make all these changes enjoyable. Humans seek out pleasure. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, these are negative coping skills, habits or addictions but all have something in common: they can make you feel good for a short amount of time. If we take this concept of humans seeking pleasure and apply it to our positive habit formation, making it enjoyable will help you focus on the process, not just the result. If it is just about the result, that is too risky and is not a healthy approach.
After 25 years I can guarantee a person will quit if the activity they pick they do not enjoy. Not saying they get a high every time they do the activity, it could be the environment, not just the activity. You could look forward to going to a fitness class for the social aspect, going to a gym close to a shop you like to go to. Do a little work before starting this process, create a strategy of how you will bring some joy with this change.
There are hundreds of tips and tricks to help on this pathway to form a new habit. Listed below are just a few that I have seen work for clients, friends and family members. Remember it is not a sprint; this a marathon and there will be times you skip and question yourself. That is the time to reread this article and remember why you are doing this.
- You must seek those things in your life that bring you inspiration to be a better person. Reading success stories of personal change really can bring a belief that big-time change is possible.
- Let others motivate you. Maybe it is a mentor you can look up to and learn from.
- Create a supportive environment. Maybe it is joining a group of people that you find incredibly inspiring
- Watch your internal speech. Stop ordering yourself around and speak to yourself like you would a friend. Be pleasant with yourself. When you order yourself around you rebel against your own orders. Show yourself some self-respect.
- Do not focus on the unpleasant task but the outcome. Rather than picturing yourself doing the task, picture the final product. Instead of thinking about doing the laundry, the anxiety of meeting a new person, sweating on a run, picture the laundry folded and put away, holding hands on a walk or sitting sipping coffee after a hard run.
- Remember why you are doing it. When you feel no motivation at all, it is normally because the reason behind what you are doing is not strong enough. Make sure your reasons are strong and emotional.
- Start small. When your motivation is gone; start small. You can build momentum from there.
Whatever the inspiration, find it and keep it in your heart. Use these tips and skills to keep you going through difficult times.
Darren Steeves is the owner of VenduraWellness.com, a company dedicated to improving organizational health one step at a time.