Often the problem isn’t wanting to change, or even taking the first step. The hardest part is finding a way to stay motivated once our initial enthusiasm wears off or we encounter setbacks. This is one reason so many of us struggle with keeping New Year’s resolutions! So, how to stop waiting for the perfect time or the perfect plan and get going? Good question!
Action breeds motivation, not the other way around.
1. Have a Clear Vision of Your Goal and Your “Why”
This seems very common sense but rarely is. Know the exact reason you are making changes to your life and have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish in the end.
Tip: Figure out a health-related goal, which may include aesthetic aspects, and write it down. Focus on long-term health benefits and make a clear plan of how you will get there.
2. Set Action Steps
Goals must be measurable and specific to be accomplished. Once you figure out the clear goal, you need a specific and measurable action plan to get there.
- If you want to improve your diet for health reasons … start meal planning.
- If you are trying to improve health and weight … measure yourself and take before pictures.
- If you need to improve insulin sensitivity… monitor glucose.
The more specific and measurable your goal, the easier it will be to track your progress and stick to it. If you need to lower carbs or eat more veggies, start a health tracking journal or a habit tracking app. Tracking drastically increases chances of success when it comes to new habits.
3. Have Checkpoints
Basically, instead of having weekly weigh-ins or daily tracking, try periodic “checkpoints” every few weeks or even months instead. This encourages a sense of internal competitiveness without getting focused on small details. It is also gives you a long enough time to see measurable results (rather than getting discouraged that you aren’t running triathlons).
- For instance, if you are trying to lose weight and improve physique or strength, your checkpoint could be weighing yourself and testing your ability in a few basic exercises (pushups, sprints, etc.).
- If working on improving insulin sensitivity, it could be your fasting blood glucose levels.
- If working on allergies or eczema, it could be your frequency of symptoms for each one.
Tip: Set multiple checkpoints in increments of 8 weeks. This is long enough for a new habit to actually sink in, not to mention stick. Compare each checkpoint to the last and try to beat it.
4. Keep Learning
To keep your motivation high and focused on a goal, it is often helpful to remember why you formed the goal in the first place. Taking in new information — be it health, nutrition, or fitness related — feeds the desire and keeps the flame burning!
5. Buddy Up
If possible, have your spouse or a friend make these changes with you. Not only will you have the benefit of some company along the way, but this has been shown to improve long-term compliance to a plan.
Tip: Make sure you and your partner are on the same page on what the goal is and how to get there so you don’t derail each other by debating the small details along the way!
6. Give Yourself Short Term Goals (and Rewards)
This goes hand in hand with the idea of checkpoints. If you can’t jump in to a new diet, fitness plan, and natural living lifestyle all at once, figure out some smaller goals and put them on paper. Once you reach one goal, start on another.
To help, consider giving yourself non-food related rewards when you accomplish a goal. Looking forward to a new pair of pants in a smaller size, or a relaxing day of some kind might help you focus on the long term benefits of your goal rather than the short term struggle.
7. Make a Habit
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I’d say it takes less than that if you have a system and a routine in place. As with most aspects of life, healthy living is much easier if it is part of a normal and regular routine. Sometimes all it takes is a challenge to get you started.
This will also help remove the mindset of “dieting” which implies an end point once a goal is reached” and encourage a mindset of a permanent and healthy lifestyle change. Sugar will not be healthy now or when you weigh your goal weight … neither will grains, or vegetable oils, or commercial deodorant … you get the idea.
Tip: Make goals visual to keep them in the forefront of your mind. Write up your why, your goals, your baby steps, and post it everywhere to increase your chances of staying motivated and sticking to a new habit.
When the lists are long and the tasks are many it’s easy to lose motivation but inertia is the worst part. Take one step in the right direction (today) and put these tips to the test to stay motivated, focused, and hopefully a little healthier!