February. The month of shattered dreams and ambitions. Trainers are gathering dust and chocolate bars have replaced protein bars. The enthusiasm with which we attack our new Year’s resolutions it is a vague memory.
If your motivation to stick to your resolution to exercise more this year is fading, you’re not alone. It is suggested that around 80% of people will have given up on their New Years resolutions by February.
But the reason why your motivation is fading could actually be because you chose the wrong motives and goals to begin with. And research shows us that choosing the right kind of goal is the key to staying motivated in the long run.
lower the effort
Many of us believe that we need to grimace, squirm, sweat, and pant to get to a point. healthier life. So, in early January, we put in a lot of effort to help us reach our goals.
Unfortunately, our brain encourages us to avoid physical exertion. This is why overexerting yourself while exercising will hurt you in the long run, making you feel less motivated to exercise in late January. Our brain is constantly monitoring our body for changes in our resting state, which could spell danger to our health. The more physical effort we use, the more a signal kicks in and our brain tells us that the activity is simply not worth the effort and potential risk.
Therefore, minimizing the effort we must put into exercise actually, it can better help us stick to our long-term resolutions. For example, if you’re dreading even a fifteen-minute jog, do five minutes instead. Or if you hate running but enjoy Zumba, do it instead. The rule of thumb is that the activity you are trying to motivate yourself to do must be pleasurable. And research shows that we’re much more likely to do something if it requires less effort, especially when we’re starting new exercise regimens.
The same principle applies to reducing the psychological effort required to exercise, as our brains also encourage us to avoid it, to the point that, when given the choice, we often prefer physical pain. He does it because he wants to save psychological effort for times of emergency.
When it comes to starting a new exercise regimen in the new year, things like fitting exercise into your schedule or getting out of bed an hour earlier take psychological effort. TO reduce psychological stress, can help minimize unnecessary decision making. When it’s time to work out, eliminate decisions like walking or driving to exercise class, or put your sneakers in the same place so you don’t have to search for them.
While these seem like small decisions to make, they can all contribute to making us feel less motivated to exercise when we’re required to do so. Research even shows that when we think our goals require little effort to achieve, we are more likely to achieve them.
Choose short-term goals
Another basic motivational mistake many of us made in January was setting our goals too far in the future. Many people start exercising with the goal of shedding a few pounds, perhaps to get back into their favorite jeans. But when the outcome is far in the future, our brains don’t associate motivation (fitting in our jeans) with exercise, so we’re less inclined to exercise.
For choose a target that has a more immediate result, our brain will associate the result positively with the exercise because they occur simultaneously. For example, the mood-enhancing benefits of exercise occur faster than changes in physical health, so this may be a better motivation to keep you exercising long after January. In short, make the reason for exercising something immediate that you can achieve, and the long-term benefits will follow.
Focus on ‘being’ instead of ‘having’
The end motivational fix is to change the type of goal you have. So-called ‘have’ goals are of little use to our motivational brain, which focuses on more important things, like being effective at what we do and creating social bonds. An example of a ‘have’ goal would be to exercise in order to have a better body. Our brain considers this type of goal less important because it doesn’t help us achieve the essential goals that help us thrive.
On the other hand, the types of goals that are most likely to keep us motivated are ‘to be’ goals. An example of a goal would be to exercise to be healthy or to be more athletic. Goals are superior because humans tend to want to bond with other like-minded people based on our identities. This motivation is thought to have developed in our ancient past, as bonding helped us survive. So someone may find the exercise easier to follow if they do it as a way to demonstrate their athletic ability, for example. As a result, people do a better job of sticking to their goals, compared to other types of goals.
Even if you fell off the wagon a bit at the end of January, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your goals altogether. But making some adjustments to them, and your approach to exercise, can help you better meet your goals for the rest of the year.