Struggling to stay motivated? Find yourself procrastinating? Is your brain incredibly creative at supplying a never ending stream of excuses for not following through? You aren’t the only one.
The thing is, the human mind is complex. And people are different. Which is why it’s been so difficult to pinpoint an exact method that works for everyone to keep them motivated. What we do know is that there are 4 important drivers that get someone to their long term goal, and we need to make sure we plan our lives so that we are ticking each of these boxes.
1: You have really, really, really good reasons for wanting something.
Consider this. You wants to lose 5, 20, 50, 100kg (whatever your number is). If your reason for this is that you want to look good in clothes, depending on just how important this is to you, this may not be a strong enough reason to keep you pushing that trolley past the junk food aisle when you are in the throes of a whopping sugar craving.
But try this. Think about someone you love. Think about how incredible they are as human beings, what it felt like to see their face for the very first time, that one quiet stolen moment where you stared at them sleeping and knew you’d never seen anything more perfect in your life. Think about how much love they deserve, how special and unique they are, and how much you want them to live incredible happy lives. Now imagine how traumatic it would be for them to be on this earth without you to be there for them. Or the burden you would be placing on them in having to care for you if your health deteriorated. Contrast this with an image of you- happy and healthy, and with such energy and positivity you light up the lives of everyone around you.
Not only is this an incredibly powerful exercise for yourself, but linking your long term goals to the people you care about is a very strong motivator, you might break a promise to yourself, but you wouldn’t break a promise to someone you love.
2: You need to enjoy the task at hand, at least most of the time.
What are the behaviors you would need repeat consistently to get to your goal weight? Do you enjoy doing them? If the answer is no, you are destined to fail before you even start. If the treadmill bores you to tears, find a way to make it interesting- maybe its music, an audiobook, or you position it in front of the TV for your favourite shows. If you find healthy food boring, learn how to cook with herbs and spices, lemon, ginger, or lime, experiment with recipes to find meals you adore. If you hate doing weights, but love dancing- do that instead! The most efficient fat burning workout in the world may be useless to you if you can’t stand it. Choose what works for you!
3: You need short term wins
Break your big goal into micro goals. For example, if your end result is in 6 months, have weekly targets. Find a way to reward yourself if you hit them. Whether it’s something as simple as sharing your goals with a friend and telling them your progress therefore getting encouragement from them when you’ve done well, or things (unrelated to food) that make you feel good- a massage, a pedi, a trip to see a movie etc. Sometimes just the knowledge that you have done what you set out to do that week is enough of a reward in itself, so make sure you’re keeping a record of your progress, and tie it to behaviours (I did 30 mins of exercise every day this week, I stuck to my one treat a week rule) rather than what the scales say alone. If you are tracking changes in your body, you’ll want to do body centimetre measures as well as weight, especially if you’ve upped the physical activity.
4: Your behaviors for change need to work with the rest of your life.
Telling yourself you will get up at 4am and go for a jog every morning, if you love nothing more than to hit that snooze button. Saying you will just never go out with friends because it’s too hard to not eat the wrong things around them. Saying you will do 5 nights of group exercise classes when you suffer from crippling social anxiety. Promising you will prepare fresh gourmet meals three times a day when you despise cooking. Promising to choose only organic and buy from Paleo café’s when your food budget for the family is $100 a week… good luck. Stop thinking about what you think would be the perfect thing to do, and start thinking about how you can easily make small changes to the life you already live.
Every little bit adds up. Can you park your car 15 minutes from work? There’s 150 mins of exercise a week. Can you go to the gym in your lunch break for 20 minutes? That’s 100 minutes in a week. Can you take the stairs instead of the lift? Freeze healthy leftovers to take to work. Refill your drink bottle with water three times a day. Grab groceries by shopping from a list rather than impulsively throwing things in a trolley based on what you are feeling like. Cut down coffee by one cup every week until you are back to 2-3 a day. Simple things that can become habits over time that fit in with how you live your life.
In summary, if you work with your brain and make it easy and rewarding for yourself, you have a much better chance of sticking with it long term. Make your reasons strong and compelling, be aware of the negative consequences if you don’t follow through, and make gradual changes until they become automatic.