Which do you think is more important for achieving a personally meaningful goal: Discipline or motivation?
If you guessed the former, we’d have to agree with you.
Motivation is a bit like your own fairweather fan. She’ll cheer you on and root for you—sometimes—but when the going gets tough (or even sometimes for no apparent reason) she’ll just dip off and leave. If you wait around for her to come back, you may end up wasting a lot of time and fail to work toward your goal, whether that’s related to fitness, food, or something else.
Discipline, on the other hand, is like the seasoned coach: he believes in you fully, but he’s not afraid to be a little tough on you either. “Show up every day. Be consistent. No excuses.” These are some of the things he might say.
Be thankful for it! Because the ironic thing is that though the idea of discipline often conjures up images of drudgery, it’s discipline and consistency that usually helps you more than your lovely-but-flighty friend motivation.
Plus—being disciplined about things that truly matter to you feels empowering and motivating in its own right. So check out these five tips for building better consistency in whatever goal (health or otherwise) you’re working toward.
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5 Ways to Maintain Your Workout Consistency
1) Remember that taking care of your health is a lifetime job—so treat it like one.
Schedule in your workout sessions just like you would a meeting with an important colleague or client.
2) Remove as many barriers to getting started as possible.
Lay out your workout clothes the night before, set your alarm 30 minutes early, clear out the junk food in your pantry, bring tons of healthy snacks to work, create a long playlist of music you love…Getting started is often the hardest part: once you’re there (in the gym, in the kitchen, at work, etc.), the doing becomes a lot easier. Just get the ball rolling!
3) Recruit an accountability buddy.
Accountability buddies can include a friend or family member, a personal trainer, a group fitness class, or even an online community. The person or people you choose should be supportive of your journey as you share it with them!
4) Take notes on yourself.
Write down what you do at the gym, what you eat, how much you sleep, how much water you drink, or whatever other bit of information you think will help you recognize your progress and habit development. It may even be interesting to jot down what’s going on in your life when you do invariably “slip up” with your consistency so that next time you can arm yourself with strategies to avoid making the same error.
5) Chunk down your goals.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a goal because it’s too big (e.g., lose 20 pounds of body fat), then it can be easy to just throw your hands up and forgo all of it. The trick is to set big goals and then set little “stepping stone” goals along the way. The pleasure you get out of achieving a small milestone can help you stay consistent and motivated.
Got any other tips to get tough when the going does, too? Let us know about it in the comments below!