Everyone’s making goals right about now since it’s almost the new year. Goals like to lose 10 pounds or run a marathon or stop eating all the marshmallows out of our son’s cereal. (What? Everyone’s different.)
Goals can be tough to stick to, but there’s one tip that can help everyone with basically any goal they have, and that is consistency.
Sometimes when we miss a day on our training plan or sleep in and miss meeting up with our running group, we have a tendency to throw everything out and say, “Oh well. I messed up. I guess I just suck at this,” and then we never go back. One day missed, two days, it doesn’t matter as long as we get back on the horse when we realize we’ve messed up.
After college, I gained about 60 pounds. I was working in a newsroom (long, non-traditional hours), I was eating fast food for lunch, and I was living alone. For dinner, I would often eat French bread with a few glasses of wine. Admitting that is tough, guys. At the time, though, I thought it was exotic and maybe a little spiritual, and also I was pretty broke. Did I mention I was in my early 20s?
I had access to a gym since I lived in an apartment complex. And I went to the gym every once in a while. Yet, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting in shape.
Now I know what my problem was (besides the wine and the bread and the fast food…etc.). I wasn’t consistent. A fit body, a well-trained body, a healthy heart—whatever you are after—comes after months and months of being consistent. So if you miss one day, don’t throw it all away. Just pick back up where you left off. Don’t even make a big deal out of it.
In March, I made a promise to myself that I would be consistent with my weight training. I decided to focus on getting lean and muscular, and I made a conscious decision to reduce my running. Here I am in March:
I kept at it—with the help of an online group—and here I am in August:
My point is, be consistent. Just keep at it and soon it will become a habit, and then you won’t hardly have to think about it anymore. It’ll become a part of your life. You won’t feel complete without it—whether it is running, swimming, lifting weights, eating more veggies, cutting down on sweets, etc.
Here are a few tips to help you stay consistent:
Join a Group
Having a group of like-minded individuals—whether they are in person or online—can help you stay motivated and keep you in the right mindset to be consistent.
Write Yourself Notes
Write down your goal and paste it somewhere you can see it. I will put a sticky note on the Lucky Charms reminding me not to eat them. You can also set a reminder on your phone.
A key to being consistent is to just do the thing you want to do right now. Don’t plan to start tomorrow or on January 1 or Monday. Just start now. Be in the moment. Now is the time.
Have a Plan
When it comes to exercising or training, a plan can really help. I had a plan to follow for my lifting goals, but also I use training plans to help me with my running. First, it gives me something to look forward to. When I have an end-goal, I am much more disciplined and consistent. Second, it helps me because I don’t have to think about anything. I just do what my plan says. Just remember not to throw everything away if you miss a day.
Focus On One Thing at a Time
We all do much better when we make one change at a time. This is a tip I learned from the expert nutritionists at Precision Nutrition. Make a single change and do it for 14 days to make it a habit. Change nothing else. Leave everything else the same, just focus on the one thing you want to accomplish.
Think About Quitting
Okay, this is a little unorthodox, but it helps me. After I start something, I try to imagine what will happen if I quit. For example, I started weight lifting because I wanted to be stronger all over (not just in my legs) and I wanted to look like an athlete. When I thought about quitting, I imagined how I would be going in the opposite direction of my goal and that motivated me. Another way to use this tip, comes from the Zen Habits author Leo Babauta. “Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them,” he writes. This way, you have a plan if you feel like quitting.
What are your goals for 2017? How will you be consistent with your goals?
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a