Dec 14, 2017
After you’ve made the decision to participate in an event, the
hardest part is sticking to the training and new way of doing
things. This could be learning a new skill, eating healthier, or
training for an event. All of these are things that we won’t be
able to master overnight – but we wish that we could.
The initial motivation and excitement of a new challenge can be
great to get you started, but this will quickly fade. This
motivation fades faster when life gets busy and it’s just easier to
do things the way you’ve always been doing them. Motivation changes
based on what is going on around you. Creating a habit around
training is a much more sure-fire way to get to the end goal than
relying on motivation alone. Every habit that you have – good and
bad – is the result of many small decisions over time.
There is a 3 step pattern that habits follow;
- Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour) – you could
leave your exercise gear by your front door so that you see it when
you get home from work. This triggers you to put it on and then you
are much more likely to exercise. Or do you want to build strength
or flexibility? You could do 5 squats or a calf stretch while
you’re brushing your teeth. This is an example of using a task you
do every day to trigger your new habit.
- Routine (the behaviour itself; the action you take) – this is
the new exercise program you’re undertaking, the walking/running,
stretching, and strengthening.
- Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour) – when
developing a new habit it’s important that we reward ourselves when
we stick to our routine. While chocolate bars and glasses of wine
are a nice treat, they might be a bit counterproductive to what you
are trying to achieve. Telling yourself that “I’ve done a good job”
is an easy place to start. Or organising to meet a friend for a
coffee at the end, or booking a massage after couple of weeks of
training are good options.
How to do it practically
When you’re starting training, beginning slowly is the key to
success. The typical approach is to dive into the deep end as soon
as you get a dose of motivation, only to fail quickly and wish you
had more willpower as your new habit drowns. The more sustainable
approach is to wade into the shallow water, slowly going deeper
until you reach the point where you can swim whether you’re
motivated or not.
- Put your habits and routine on your calendar – Set yourself up
with a routine you want to follow. Once you have this routine
schedule it into your calendar around what you have on. You’re more
likely to stick to what you’re trying to do if you have it written
- Stick to your schedule, even in small ways – life gets busy
sometimes, we all know that. Sometimes it can cut into what we’re
trying to achieve. To build your habit, and to keep training, it’s
important to stick to the schedule, even if it means reducing the
volume of what you were going to do. For example you had a 30
minute jog scheduled in, but you only have 10 minutes. Get out for
a 10 minute jog, or do some body weight exercises and some
stretching. You’ll get the benefits of the exercise you complete as
well as reinforcing the habit that you’re trying to stick to.
- Have someone else that expects something of you – it’s easy to
let ourselves down, it’s much harder to let someone else down. Some
people train well independently, but these are usually the people
who have already made it a habit. The easiest way to get this
external accountability is to commit to training with a friend.
You’re more likely to show up and keep at it if you’ve got someone
waiting for you. You could also join a group, or get yourself a
coach, you’ll know which one will work best for you.
- Design your environment for success – making it easy for
yourself to make good choices, or hard to make bad ones, is
essential. As we talked about earlier, leaving your exercise gear
in a visible place and getting changed into it straight away makes
it more likely you’ll get out for that run. Hiding the T.V. remote,
or moving your favourite chair can make it harder to sit straight
Now the most important thing is to put these ideas into action
and start a new training habit. Plan for it, and good luck!