Kicking goals - Making motivation a healthy habit
Ever hear that saying ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’?
It might sound like something splashed all over a fitness instagram, but actually it's kinda true.
When I was first getting into health and fitness, my friend asked me ‘how do you have the motivation to get up and go running every morning?’ I can’t for the life of me remember what I said at the time, but upon further reflection what I should have said is that I don’t really have ‘motivation’ first thing every morning. What I do have is a goal, a plan, and a few small habits to help me stick to them.
Make a plan, make it SMART
"Here we go, I've heard this before." Now give me a sec. The reason people spout this all the time is because it does actually work. Here’s my take on the age old anagram. It’s a safety check to make sure you aren’t setting crappy goals.
• Specific: “I’m going to get fit”. Kind of a useless goal, but hey, it helps gyms make stacks of money around the New Year period. Be more specific.
• Measurable: “I’m going to get into running." Better goal. But there are plenty of people who are ‘into’ running but don’t actually do it. Make it measurable, plan to run a 6k.
• Attainable: "I'm going to win the Boston Marathon” Chill out, let’s make it across the 6k finish line first.
• Relevant: “I’m going to lose 5 kilos” If your goal is to be healthy and or happy, or even just ‘to get fit’, focusing specifically on losing weight is VERY RARELY relevant to your goals. You wanna lose weight quickly? Cut off a leg. Want to be healthier? Make a 6k race your goal.
• Timely: “I’m going to run a 6k” Hooray, I’m very happy for you. When? If the answer is ‘one day’, then you need to fix your goal. "I’m going to run a 6k Race on the 24th of September."
Now that's a goal.
Write it down, be accountable
Now while I prefer to write my goals down hard copy, pen to paper, there is actually a lot of merit to putting it on Facebook. At the very least, tell people about it, it will make you more committed. Especially if the goal scares you, make the fear of not following through greater than the fear of following through.
Pro Tip: If your goal involves some sort of donation to charity, not only are you making the world better as you get fitter, but you'll have a bigger incentive to follow through. Even better, rope in some friends so you're not going on your own. #squadgoals
Make a list of small changes
If someone came to me asking how to tidy up their diet, I could take their lean muscle mass, age, sex, gender and activity level and figure out what percentage of fats, proteins are carbohydrates they need to hit their goal.
Sound like too much? For most people, trying to figure out the appropriate macronutrient levels for each meal would be enough to make their head explode. So it's much easier to start with a list of small changes. Here are some healthy examples:
- Instead of quitting soft drinks or coffees entirely, which might not make your head explode but will probably at least give you a headache- trying cutting the volume by half.
- Instead of changing your diet entirely maybe swap just one unhealthy meal with a healthier choice.
- If you're feeling tired and unmotivated after a long day at work, try changing your routine to incorporate your exercise into a few mornings instead. These mornings are initially going to suck, but by getting it done earlier you will likely start to notice an improvement in your energy levels throughout the day, and the challenges of the day are less likely to affect your training.
Sticking to goals is hard. Lapsing is likely even when it comes to small changes. So make an effort to pre-commit. What do I mean by this? Take steps to safe guard against changing your mind or experiencing moments of doubt.
Set your alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed, stop bulk buying snack foods so each snack costs more, find a training buddy and schedule your sessions. These are all examples of pre-commiting.
Make it a habit
It often takes about six weeks to form a new habit. Do your best to incorporate your small changes into your routine, so you don't need to worry about trying to fit them in.
Not all habits you make are going to work for you and stick. And that’s ok, just keep giving small changes a go and adding to your arsenal of small daily habits that make improvements to not just your health, but also your productivity, mental wellness, relationships and goals in all facets of life.
Refresh your goal
So your race day has come and gone, regardless of how it went you are now in the habit of setting goals, making small changes and sticking to them.
The next step is to make a new goal. Take your original goal a little further or switch it up entirely and focus on a totally different aspect of your life. At the end of the day having a goal gives you focus and making small habits makes change. So look to combine the two and see what happens- if you do it right you may just achieve something great for yourself.