Today is the first Monday of 2015. I used to write new year resolutions on the first few days of every year until I started Pilates Fitness.
I realized that setting clear goals with specific timelines motivated me to get started; but they do not last. It is tough to meet our goals without making positive changes to our existing behaviors. But changing is hard. Why is it so difficult to stick to new ways of doing things? How can we make it easy to change our behaviors or build habits? How can we make exercising as natural as taking a daily shower?
Everyone I know wants to be better – fitter and slimmer, earn more money and yet work less, a better friend, parent or son/daughter.
Truth is even if we are motivated to work towards what we want, it is difficult to stay motivated or stick to the new ways of doing things. We are more likely to fall back on doing what is comfortable and second nature to us; thus a longer path to meet our goals (or not meeting our goals at all).
Recently, I read an interesting analogy. One is more likely to succeed if one forgets about his goal and only focus on doing things that bring one closer to his goal, ie building new habits .
For instance, if your goal is to lose 6 kg by June 2015 and you intend to meet that goal by losing 1 kg per month. If you ignore the fact that you have to lose 1 kg every month and focus on exercising 30 minutes a day for 6 months, ie creating a new habit, you are more likely to lose some kilograms as compared to mulling over your weight every month.
So I say, build habits and forget about goals (or new year resolutions)! You will be losing more kilograms and getting more toned with the new habit of daily exercise than creating new year resolutions. When exercising becomes a habit, you need less motivation to do it and you can continue to do it routinely without much efforts.
3 Simple Steps To Make Exercising A New Habit
1) Make starting easier by scheduling exercising as part of your existing routine
In my interview with The Straits Times Mind Your Body, I highlighted that the easiest way to get started is to schedule exercising together with existing habits. For instance, exercise right after work every Monday and book in your slots. No excuses. Since it is attached to an existing habit (going to work on Mondays), there lies a natural reminder and you have less resistance to performing the new habit. I tried popping my vitamins pills immediately after my shower and I must say I have successfully built a new habit.
2) Start with something that requires extremely little effort
The easiest way to make exercising your new habit is to start with something so simple and easy that you can perform effortlessly even on your laziest days. That’s the reason why I created the easy to follow Pilates Mat videos. I want to help you to get moving right in the comfort of your home, on your couch! All you have to do is to follow the 3 minutes video while sitting on your couch holding to your smart phone. In fact, to make it even easier, for the first few days, simply watch the video on your couch without doing anything – I bet you will start moving very soon.
3) Forget about the goal, just concentrate on building your exercise habit
Every time you think of your goal, you are reminding yourself that you have failed (ie goal not met). That in itself is rather dampening. As such, it is more important to ensure you are actually exercising daily (performing the habit) than to think about losing six kilograms by June 2015 (your clearly defined goal). After you have established exercising as a daily habit, you can always explore more effective exercising methods.
I remembered that once I was in the car park with a friend, he was hitching a ride. I was busy meddling with the GPS on my iPhone to find out about the route to our destination. My friend looked at me and said, “Find the route later, let’s find your car first.” So, one step at a time – build the habits and you will get your progress.