It’s that time of year again. After a few weeks of delicious food and drinks, the turn of the year presents us with a fresh opportunity to set new goals for ourselves. We’re all familiar with the boost in gym memberships and attendance that takes place in January, and quickly subsides soon after.
If you’re sitting there wondering how you can avoid being a part of that statistic this year, then read on. We’ve pulled these insights together from the best literature out there on habit formation so that you can succeed with your plans this year. Make this year count!
A good plan has goals that are measurable. These goals are split into milestones that are spread across a timeline. Vague goals do more to confuse us and can even cause anxiety. So a good plan would look something like this:
- Goal: lose 20 pounds in 6 months
- Milestones: lose 3-4 pounds per month or even 1 pound per week
- Actions: workout 45-60 min 3 times a week with a focus on cardio, adopt a paleo diet
You can further specify your plan and actions by saying what kind of exercise, at what intensity and how it will evolve over time. Make sure that your goals and plans are achievable based on where you currently stand. You might want to start slower and slowly build up over time and your milestones can reflect this progression. Once you start, constantly check-in to see how you’re doing and if you need to adjust your plans and goals. Come from a place of honesty and commitment when you do this.
Tie your actions to clear rewards. You can reward yourself for small actions like making it to the gym and completing a workout, as well as for hitting your weekly or monthly goal. There is ample evidence in psychological research that this strategy works well.
Needless to say, make sure that your rewards aren’t counter-productive, so no donuts, chocolate cake… you get the idea. Instead, go spend some time at a spa, get a massage, or allow yourself to watch your favorite TV show only once you’ve worked out.
Make sure that you’re really clear on why you’re setting yourself these goals. The more meaningful the reason is to you, the likelier you are to follow through with it through difficult times.
To avoid forgetting your intention, consider writing it down and repeating it to yourself every morning. For example, you might say “I am committed to my long term health and seek to inspire my friends and family to take better care of themselves.”
Calling in this kind of intentionality can really help keep you motivated. The more you repeat such affirmations to yourself, the more you’ll be able to resist the voice in your head that just wants you to give up or take it easy when it comes up.
If you can go to a personal trainer or group fitness classes, we highly encourage giving it a try. By bringing a professional into the loop you will learn and progress faster, prevent injury, mix up your routine and be more accountable. The best classes also have great energy and music and will help you give it your all and achieve your goals faster.
There are a number of great products out there that help you measure your performance, stay motivated as you work out, measure your calorie intake and find supportive communities. We built Vivo to offer all of the most important features in the same place. To learn more about the app, skip to the section below about Vivo!
Not a morning person? Workout in the evening. Make it easy to be successful. Try to find a consistent time of the day where you have ample time and energy to workout and then commit to it. If paying in advance or looking great in Lulu tights is going to make you more likely to hit the gym, by all means, go for it. Do what it takes to make you deliver on what’s important to you.
Make It Fun
Whether this means focusing on the modalities that you enjoy the most or switching things up so that there’s constant novelty, do what you need to to make it fun and enjoyable. Experiment with the different cardio modalities like running, spinning, elliptical, jump-rope, stair-climber, HIIT and walking. Try out dance, sports, Zumba, hiking, yoga, boxing, bodyweight training, trail running, fitness bands or whatever floats your boat. Remember that the more fun you have, the more likely you are to do it.
Use visual cues that will remind you of your action plan. These could be post-it notes or the item itself like a yoga mat that’s laid out open in your living room. Print out a calendar and put it on a wall where you see it multiple times in the day and check mark each day you do the things. You can also clean up your home screen on your phone to only have the habit apps like Headspace and Vivo.
Pick specific times to do the activities, tied to other activities that are habits. So for example, everyday, right before/after you brush your teeth or shower or right after you leave work and before you go home. Then, set up calendar reminders and push notifications. Also remove unnecessary push notifications from all other apps.
We designed the Vivo app with most of these ideas in mind. Our classes are taught by awesome trainers from gyms like Equinox. They’re designed to keep you motivated and finish strong. We also just released a one of a kind programs feature which allows you to build a plan that is just right for you.
So let’s start this year off strong!!! We know you got this.