Why Maintaining a Goal is Often Difficult Than Achieving One

Take time to smell the flowers each day (like this delightfully fragrant Plumeria in Lakes Park). Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.

Maintaining a change in behavior is often more difficult than making the initial change itself because:

  • Of a ‘race to the finish’ mentality where there is a ‘start’ and ‘end’ to achieving your goal. This approach doesn’t work long-term because at some point you’re going to get tired and burnout.
  • Out of sight out of mind. Once a target is reached, people often take that as a reason to relax and celebrate.
  • Setting large goals without setting smaller, intermediate goals trips us up. Big long-range goals work best if you have also set smaller intermediate goals to help encourage you through your journey.

Fit people often don’t think of themselves as ‘motivated’...

They think of themselves as ‘consistent.’

The trick is to keep doing something so long that it feels unnatural not to do it.

Think of how you’d feel if you didn’t brush your teeth in the morning?

People who are fit and healthy may seem motivated, but the truth is, they simply feel uncomfortable when they don’t eat well or miss a workout.

They’ve done it so well for so long that it feels unnatural not to.

The key is to form good habits and reinforce your positive behavior until it sticks. 

Here are a few tricks of the trade to help you on your journey:

  1. Write down your “why” and post it.
    One reason people relapse into old patterns is because they’ve forgotten the discomfort associated with their former selves. Once a goal is reached, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. If you write down your why and post it so you can see it regularly, you’ll always be reminded of the reasons why you started, and why you want to stay fit and healthy. 
  2. Make sure you’re investing in the right changes.
    Nothing reinforces positive change like experiencing actual progress. Find an activity that you like, as this makes it much easier to stick with it. If you enjoy riding a bike, invest in a new bike or riding gear. If you love swimming, buy a pair of goggles and head down to your local pool. 
  3. Aim for progress, not perfection.
    Even Olympic athletes have tough days too. If they’re allowed to stray of course occasionally, so are you! Aiming for perfection is a fast way to develop an unhealthy relationship with exercise. Give yourself a break if you slip up, and see it as it is, not worse than it is. Learn from it and move forward.
  4. Finally, keep the big picture in focus.
    When improving health and fitness, people often make goals based on numeric targets. This shouldn’t be your focus. There are going to be weeks when the scale doesn’t budge. It’s more important to see the big picture. For example, if you’ve been attending the gym for week and barely notice a difference, don’t be hard on yourself. The fact you managed to go to the gym every day for a week is a victory!

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!

Contact her, or find out more about her monthly online program, at: www.GearedUP.biz!


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