You know the drill. You get a surge of a desire to eat healthy or start a workout program. The problem is, it’s Thursday, and new things aren’t supposed to start until Monday. So, might as well over-indulge and wait to get started until Monday. Then all weekend you tell your friends about your plans for your new program on Monday. You justify all of your decisions that wouldn’t be on your future plan by the fact that you are starting in a few days, so better get “the bad stuff” in now.
Yep, that’s the story. Rinse and repeat. I get it. We want a clean slate. A new week, a new month, a new year. Something that in our minds will make us “forget” all of our previous decisions.
No more waiting!
What happens if you wait? First of all, that surge of newfound energy you felt quickly dwindles. The anxiety of waiting until Monday builds, and suddenly that new program becomes extremely daunting. Soon you’re left to wait even longer. Something will come up — it always does. The next thing you know, your attention has been taken to something else, and you’ve passed that magical date.
What if it’s a random Thursday?
But what would happen if on that random Thursday when that healthy surge came over you, you didn’t let it leave you? What if, in the middle of the day, you jumped into action? The very next meal, you become conscious of your decision…your portion…your balance. You find 30 minutes to do some form of activity — even if it’s going for a walk or pulling up one of your saved workouts on Pinterest. When those surges come over you, I want you to drink a big cup of water, think to yourself about the progress you made just getting your brain to think this way, and smile knowing you’re about to take control.
Log it right away
When you’ve completed your first time back in the saddle, you must do one thing — if you worked out, I’m talking even before you consume your post-workout protein-filled shake…here’s what you must do…you must log it. Find an app or a notebook. Anything! Write. It. Down. The satisfaction of writing down your accomplishment will stick with you through everything you do following it. The next time you go to make the decision to make your healthy choice once again, you’re still feeling the affects of the last time! You can go back and look at that accomplishment whenever you want! If you’re tech savvy, you can track each accomplishment over time.
Bonus points for writing down how you felt before, during and after. Was it tough getting going, or were you highly focused? Did you find a sticking part half-way through? If you’re trying to stay away from sweets, did you find yourself drawn to previous triggers? If you were starting to get into lifting weights, did you push through the tough reps? Afterwards, how did you feel? I’m going to be honest — writing down our “feelings” is a challenge in itself. Sometimes I get through tough times and a few weeks later, I wish I would have had things written down so I knew what I just went through. Or when I get to another tough time, I wish I could read how I got through it the last time.
Rewards & Goals
One way to help train your brain to make a move when the desire comes at the most random time is to create small goals. We get so overwhelmed with how far we have to go that it usually stops us from making that move. But what if we had a few small goals ahead of that big picture? The science of motivation tells us our brains can be trained with rewards. Allow yourself to experience positive feedback regularly as you progress through a series of progressive goals.
Doing this over and over again will soon bring the habit, dedication and motivation you’re looking to see in your life. And the habits, dedication and motivation will get you closer to that big picture goal. It’ll become easier to follow-through for each time.
I get it, research says Mondays, birthdays, first of the month, a new season, and the first of the year are the best times to start a goal. There is special significance to those particular days. Perhaps you’ll start it after a day that is personally meaningful to you. That day is the day you found that spark. Start right away.
Originally published at medium.com