If you’re like most folks, you start your health and fitness journey with excitement and positive vibes. In fact, this early enthusiasm is very motivational – at first. Unfortunately, many of us don’t reach our health goals with positive vibes and motivation alone. Eventually, that energy sizzles away, and we’re left feeling a bit… Wah Wah Wah.

We shoot for the moon with our goals, yet when we “miss” it doesn’t feel like we’ve landed amongst the stars at all. Instead, we feel demotivated while sitting amongst tiny chocolate bar wrappers. Clearly, that’s a personal example.

At the same time, this is likely happening…

Below our conscious awareness, our brain starts to piece together a narrative to help explain what happened. Our brains are constantly watching and judging us, gathering information to create or reinforce a story about who we are and how we behave in the world. And likely, negative self-talk is involved: “I’m a failure” or “I just don’t have enough willpower”. Perhaps you’re familiar with this? This is simply not true. You are NOT a failure, and willpower is not the answer. Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity and a clear implementation strategy.

Master the habit of showing up every day.

Let’s consider a goal like fat loss. If you research how to lose fat, you’ll find advice about nutrition, sleep, hormones, exercise, fasting, etc etc. There’s no shortage of information on healthy habits that support fat loss. But how do we implement all of that change into our lives in a sustainable way?

Since you can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist yet, the objective is to master the habit of showing up first. Here’s how to do that.

Clarity and a clear implementation strategy.

Let’s say you just read an article about the importance of walking for weight loss because it lowers stress hormones. You decide to walk more. Great idea! The only issue with that is the lack of clarity around “walk more”. When, where, and for how long will you walk?

The two most important cues for behaviour change are time and location. Get really clear on the “when” and “where” pieces.

We call this an implementation statement: “I will [BEHAVIOUR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”

Next, expose yourself to change in little chunks with segmental and sequential tasks.

Come up with three related tasks that build on each other to create a ritual for the habit you’re trying to build. Focus on small, specific and relevant tasks that you can easily do daily, or as often as possible. Then, order those steps from easiest to hardest. Create a routine for your new desired behaviour by starting with the easy step first. Do it on a consistent basis before moving to the next step of your ritual.

Your first goal for a week might be buying a comfortable pair of running shoes, and that’s it. Next week your goal may be to walk to the mailbox at the end of your driveway. The week after, you may be ready to go for a walk around a block in your neighbourhood.

The key is consistency. Master showing up first.

Master the habit of showing up by establishing a clear implementation strategy for your goal. Then, get your reps in. Expose yourself to change in little chunks by breaking up your goal into segmental and sequential tasks.

Start small to stay consistent, and you won’t miss the moon at all.

Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash