Whether you did it for health reasons or because you thought it would be cool to be fit, you rushed into the gym, signed up for a membership and went at it “full throttle”. Before long, your motivation fizzled. Days between planned workouts turned to weeks. Your exercise program failed.
Here’s a list of the five most likely reasons why your exercise program failed, and what you can do about it.
Why Your Fitness Program Failed
1. You didn’t have a plan
Most exercise efforts come to naught because most people fail to devise a plan. You had absolutely no idea of what you wanted to accomplish; you just wanted to be in shape – but no plan to get there! A plan is the ‘what’ i.e. what do I wish to accomplish with this exercise program?
Devise a plan! What is your ultimate goal? Do you want to lose weight, gain greater flexibility, and improve your cardio conditioning? All of the above? Determine the answers to ‘what’ and you’ll be off and running!
2. You didn’t have goals (if you had a plan)
If you did have a plan but your exercise program failed, it was likely due to an absence of goals. If a plan is the answer to ‘what’, goals answer the questions ‘how’, and ‘by when’? For instance, how many pounds do you want to lose and by when? Having a plan with no goals is like the skipper of a cruise liner who takes his hand off the wheel and hopes to drift to his destination.
Set goals! Be realistic yet dream big. First determine where you are – what’s your body fat, body mass index – then it will be easier to determine the ‘what’ and ‘by when’. Most of the major fitness firms offer free assessments. If they don’t, find a reputable personal trainer in your area who will.
3. You didn’t know how to use the equipment
At any given time, in any given gym in America, up to eighty percent of the people who are using equipment are doing it wrong. Including you! The gym can be overwhelming for most people, including beginners. When you don’t know how to use something, you get frustrated and you quit. And heaven forbid you should ask anyone for help!
Get some help! Stop acting like you know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Most gyms have experienced personnel who will gladly show you. Again, ask about a free assessment!
4. You underestimated your conditioning level
The day after your first workout, your muscles were sore as hell! You made the mistake millions of people make when they decide to launch a fitness program: underestimating how out of shape you are. Oh sure, you tended to get out of breath when climbing a flight of stairs; you always feel irritable and tired throughout your workday. But those were more the results of mental fatigue than anything else. When you’re out of shape, it’s whole different ballgame.
Resolve to push through it – sore muscles and all! You didn’t get out of shape overnight and you won’t get in shape overnight, either.
5. You didn’t see instant results and gave up.
You have two choices when launching a fitness program: the long, slow grind to success or instant gratification. Most people opt for the latter – including you! Twenty-five pounds in two weeks? Really?
Stop looking for the easy way. Think four, eight, and twelve: 4 weeks for you to begin to see minimal changes; 8 weeks for friends and family to see it and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Settle in for the long haul – you’ll appreciate the results it even more.
Here’s the good news! You can dust off that exercise program and still accomplish your fitness goals! Follow the above tips and I guarantee you totally solid results!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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