It’s New Years day, your resolutions are in place, your plan is set, your motivation is strong.
Week one goes ok. You diet is good, the junk food is mostly gone, you’ve been to the gym 3 times already. That’s 2 more times than in the whole of August last year. You’re winning.
Then you start back to work. It’s cool, you’ve had a couple of weeks off (or at least enough time to recharge!) and, anyway, you have your goddam plan.
Monday goes fine. You have your lunch prepped, and you hit the gym after work.
Tuesday is ok. You’re tired because you’ve been used to getting up whenever and yesterdays 630am wake up was a bit of a shock. You forgot to prep lunch last night, so you’ll have to wing it, tomorrow will be better.
Wednesday rolls around and you have your lunch, but you have to stay later than planned at work so you miss the gym. It’s stupidly busy anyway so it’s ok.
Thursday and you’ve got lunch, you know you’ll be away from work on time and you have a great dinner planned. Sorted.
Friday, you work through lunch, the boss is being an ass hat and you go for a drink with your colleagues after work. Gym tomorrow is looking unlikely.
Saturday. So tired. Lie in and it turns into a lazy day.
Sunday, no motivation to go shop and prep lunches and the slide back to pre-resolution self begins.
By the middle of January, most people have given up on their new year’s resolutions. All the good intentions fall away one by one and are soon forgotten.
The problem isn’t you, or the resolutions you set. Though occasionally they might be set a little high and are too far out of reach or unsustainable. The real problem is you rely on motivation to get you through them. Motivation is a fickle thing, some days it’s set on high, on others it’s set so low you wonder how you make it through the day. If you only do what’s needed on days you feel motivated to do so, you’ll get nowhere. Knowing that motivation comes and goes, how can you ensure that you get done what needs to be done, regardless of how motivated you are?
The answer is simple. Motivation actually comes from knowing that the momentum from successes, no matter how small, add up and create motivation to do more. Motivation is a result of doing what needs done, not the driving force behind what needs done.
Here are 5 ways to help you build the motivation to dominate your goals.
Whatever your big goal is, break it down into a series of small, really do-able mini goals and start with the easiest first.
If your goal is to lose 15kgs, don’t focus on the end result, it is too big and possibly more than a little daunting. Put your focus into developing the changes you need to make for that to happen. Then work on building those little changes into your day.
For example, if fat loss is your goal, you may decide on:
- Getting to the gym 2-3 times a week.
- Walking 8-10000 steps each day
- Increasing how much protein you eat
- Having 3-5 servings of vegetables each day.
- Drink mostly water or zero cal soft drinks.
Depending on where you are starting from, these could be relatively easy, or they could be mind-blowingly hard.
You simply pick whichever one is easiest to follow and work on that first. For example, I had a client who, by simply swapping full sugar soft drinks for zero cal alternatives (she literally swapped Coke to Diet Coke), lost 5kgs in about 3 weeks. No other changes at that point. But that became her new normal and she could then use the motivation from that win to make the next change easier.
Keeping a track of how often you do the new habit helps you see progress, and each time you do it adds a little more fuel to your motivational furnace. Every little win you get pushes you towards the next.
Plan in small rewards periodically.
We are generally really bad at delayed gratification. And modern society makes it even harder to accept that, sometimes, we need more than a little patience to get what we want. If you can get next day delivery on a big screen TV, why can’t fat loss happen at the same speed?
The time needed to achieve any type of body composition goal is a to longer than most people appreciate. It doesn’t help that fitness and lifestyle mags are still showing headlines claiming you can get ripped in 3 weeks, or beach body ready in 10 days. Failing to mention that the cover models were already 2 weeks from photoshoot lean and photoshop ready.
If it’s taken a year or more to get to where you are now, you need at least that long to get back close to where you want to be.
With that in mind, you can piggyback on the first tip by promising yourself a small reward for reaching mini-milestones along the way to your final goal. For example:
Each time you get 10 days straight of 10000 steps, treat yourself to a cinema trip.
When you complete 12 gym sessions, reward yourself with a new training outfit.
Got your veggies and protein in each day for the last fortnight? Well done! Treat yourself to a spa trip.
The reward doesn’t need to be extravagant, and it should be within the bounds of your goals. After all, it’s no good treating yourself to a 1500kcal meal out if you have spent a week eating well for your fat loss goal.
Plan in milestones and mini rewards to help you recognise the progress you’re making.
Operate a clean slate policy.
We are all human, therefore it is in our nature to screw up now and again. When it does, you have 2 options, either beat yourself up and sabotage the rest of your day or, relax, shake it off and get back on track.
Oddly, most people do the first of these. Let me let you into a little secret; your progress isn’t made or lost on the back of one bad meal or missed gym session.
Just as it’s been the cumulative effect of a lot of poor meal choices and hours on the sofa to get you where you are, it is the cumulative effect of a lot of good meals and made training sessions that add up to get you the body you want. If you consistently do 80-90% of what’s needed you will make incredible progress. (To give you some perspective on that, over 6 months, if you have 4 meals/ snacks per day and 3 training sessions per week, you can be a little off for 72 meals and miss 8 training sessions and still be on course).
Give yourself a break, accept that things didn’t go to plan and, more importantly, make sure the next meal or training session is on point.
Get an accountabilibuddy.
We all need a little accountability to keep us on track with our goals. Someone who’ll call out your excuses and keep you focussed on what matters.
You need that somebody to help you on your way. This could be a friend or colleague who has a similar goal. It could be a family member. It could be a fitness pro or mentor who helps monitor your progress and keep you accountable and on course.
The power of having someone on your team to help nudge you back on course can’t be overlooked. It’s easy to lie to yourself and tell yourself you’ve done the best you can, but it’s harder to convince an objective outsider who can see exactly what you’ve let slide.
Team up for a nudge when you drift off course.
Get professional help.
Sometimes you need to invest in yourself. Hiring a fitness pro to help guide your progress, show you the changes and to hold you accountable is a great way to make your life easier. This helps in a number of ways, they’ve probably got a lot of experience helping people just like you work towards their goals. They will also hold you accountable, make sure you keep making progress on the training and nutrition fronts according to your abilities and targets.
Some things to consider before you throw money at the next trainer that comes along:
- Make sure you chat first and get an idea of whether you will get along well. You won’t work well with a trainer you hate to be around.
- Look at their previous client results, this could be testimonials, before/ after pics, or talking to one or 2 clients if you see them in the gym.
- Remember that trainers aren’t there to just count reps. That’s part of your job. Your trainer should be monitoring technique, positioning and intensity. (And if you’re not sure how many you’ve done, do 2 more!)
I hope these tips help you stay on track, or get back on track, with your goals!