Have you set yourself a New Years Resolution?
The time has come … we have set out our New Years Resolution and we are feeling motivated …
Sadly for many of us these good intentions don’t last as long as we think.
January 19th has been highlighted in recent research by Strava to be the fatal day these great intentions disappear into our distant memory. When you think about that again its quite staggering that the majority of people are unable to stick to their goals for more than 19 days!
To add to the misery, research from sundried (2020) highlights 43% of people who set fitness related goals expect to give up within the month. That’s before they have even started!
There are many reasons for why people fail to adhere to their good exercise intentions and you may be thinking of some right now (Motivation, lack of time …. Etc.)
Regardless of what your reason may be by the end of this article I aim to give you some simple but highly effective tools to:
1. Improve your mindset to begin with
2. Keep your mindset strong (especially on Jan 19th!)
Technique 1 – Creating an Autonomous Environment before you start!
What is autonomy?
Being autonomous is a psychological state of mind in where you feel in complete control of your actions and how you regulate them without any external assistance. For example, choosing the form of exercise you want to participate in and how many times you’re going to do it would be autonomous as you are in control of your own actions.
Why is it useful?
Creating this kind of environment is one of the first and most important strategies you can implement before exercising. It taps into your natural tendency to actively seek out behaviours that make you feel in control. by doing this you form a ‘motivational sequence’ which in turn helps bring about intrinsic motivation. This refers to your motivation coming from within yourself and not from external factors e.g. Pleasing other people. Being motivated in this way has been highlighted through research to be vital for increasing exercise adherence.
How to implement autonomy right now …
To implement this mindset the first thing you must do is concentrate on making sure that the exercise you partake in is your own choice. Don’t be pressured by a friend to complete a couch to 5k if you hate running!! Find your niche in whatever form of exercise it is and your already on your way to sticking to it. If you find yourself in the category of hating any form of the word exercise then simply making the choices of how you intend to get to your goal will help tune your mindset into feeling in control and therefore increasing your intrinsic motivation.
Technique 2 – Superordinate Goal Setting
What is SUPERORDINATE goal setting?
Once you have gained the correct pre mindset its onto goal setting.
If you have been researching how to set goals you may have come across acronyms like SMARTER or something similar, this enables you to create goals that are specific and realistic to you and by no means should you stop doing this …. however, in essence all you have created is a goal based on WHAT you want to achieve or in other words you have created a focal goal.
To make this goal stronger in your mind you need to start thinking deeper into WHY you have created this goal – this is called superordinate goal setting.
Why use it?
Using this technique triggers you to think about why you exercise and therefore links to your core values for why you are creating the exercise intention in the first place, it moves beyond your focal goal and helps you develop a personal and meaningful connection with the goals you are setting. This has been shown in many studies to have a much more powerful effect on exercise adherence.
How to set superordinate goals right now …
To implement superordinate goal setting effectively start by question why you are wanting to achieve the goals you are. If the answer is not immediate try googling common values and seeing if any spring out as meaningful to you. Some of the most common values include: physical wellbeing/ quality of life, family, friends, employment, personal growth, spirituality and parenting. The focus is all about finding the one which strikes a personal connection with you. Write it down next to your focal goal and remember it every time you need that extra boost of motivation.
Technique 3 – Action Plans
What is an Action Plan?
Action planning also known as the implementation of intentions is the next stage after you have understood your superordinate goals and linked them appropriately to their focal goal. It is a post intentional process that helps link your goals to situational cues by looking at where, when and how you will act over a certain period in accordance with your goal. So, in other words …how are you going to achieve your goal!
Why use them?
Action planning is an incredibly useful tool to use as it is helps you form a clear idea of how you will pursue your intentions therefore is reducing the intention-behaviour gap and breaking down that wall!!
How to Implement action plans …
To implement this effectively create a template similar to the one below which gives yourself boxes to fill to ensure you stick to your exercise regime. At this point creating smaller short-term goals for the upcoming week is suggested to help you keep focused. Once filled in put your action plan somewhere you will see it, whether that’s on the fridge or your bedroom it needs to be visible to you regularly, serving as that constant reminder of what you intended to do so that the poor old excuse, I forgot … never occurs!
To conclude …
By now you are starting to see the bigger picture of exercise and just how important your mindset is in achieving the goals you always dreamed of. All 3 of these techniques are proven by research to be effective. This being said they require effort from YOU as without it they are useless. By no means is this a guarantee to you sticking to your goals however it will most definitely improve the odds of your success and most likely lead to longer lasting exercise habits and all the benefits that come with it.
I wish you all very good luck on your fitness journeys this year.
I will leave you with this quote by Friedrich Nietzche
‘He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how’