I have a few obsessions in life. Things that literally consume every waking moment of my thoughts at times. One such thing is human behaviour.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I’m intensely curious and fascinated about why we do the things we do as human beings (or don’t do).
In 2016 when I decided I wanted to be more consistent in my life and workout routine I worked at it diligently.
A few weeks in I decided to look back on my Track & Measure sheet (used to track my progress and consistency). I felt pretty proud at how far I had come over the last few weeks, and wanted to maintain this momentum.
I studied the first 30 days to identify why was it that after failing to stick with my workout for 21 years, for no more than 15 days, this time I was able to remain consistent at it.
What made this time so different than all the other countless times I had failed at being consistent?
Fast forward one year later, and though I do miss days from time to time when life gets hectic, I’m still pretty disciplined in this area of my life.
Recently, I’ve had other people reach out to me about wanting to know how they can stick with their fitness goals for one reason or another.
One person wanted to stick with it because they didn’t want to be a burden in terms of health issues to their family. They started, was pretty impressive at sticking with it. However, after the first 30 days started slipping back into bad habits.
Another person told me they really want to stick with it for health reasons as well. Their reason was really compelling also, which was to be of good health and around to see their child grow up. Yet as much as that reason was significant, they procrastinated.
Another person wanted to stick to theirs because they knew that working out meant they could be more productive and effective in building their business and making an impact. Just as before, had a compelling reason, they started, but after the first 7 days slipped back into bad habits.
Naturally for me I realized the trend and became obsessed with figuring out why is it that all these people, who have compelling reasons for sticking with their fitness goals, didn’t.
What are their thoughts and how are they feeling during the moments they stuck with it versus the moments they didn’t.
Why is it that people say they really want something, but never stick with it?
Some don’t even start.
Yet there are others who for better or worse, no matter what happens, has stuck with their fitness goals for years.
What separates the ones who stick with their fitness goals from those who don’t?
Why you fail to stick with your fitness goals
From observation of others and through my own experience I’ve realized there are three key things that makes one stick with their fitness goals:
1. Am emotionally compelling reason
2. A consequence if they don’t follow through
3. Setting the standard of what is expected of them
After several testing and retesting here’s what I found.
Of the three the main reason why you may be struggling to remain consistent is because you haven’t set the Standard & Expectation of what you are unwilling to compromise and settle for.
One of the things I realized that made the difference between now and before is this time around I set the standard of what I was going to hold myself accountable to, and committed to that standard no matter what.
The standard I had set was “I NEVER miss a day to be consistent with my workout routine. I get it done no matter what happens or how I feel, motivated or demotivated I GET IT DONE!”
Doing this removed any excuses or justification I may have had for why I couldn’t get it done that day.
This isn’t just with me, but with others that have stuck to their fitness goals as well.
They set a standard, and no matter what happened in their life refused to compromise that standard where their fitness goal was concerned.
By setting a standard, and refusing to compromise that standard, it closed off any possibility that may have allowed room for them to make excuses and justify why they couldn’t get it done.
The ones who didn’t stick with their fitness goals somewhere during the process allowed themselves to compromise on their standards.
Though both groups have compelling reasons to stick with it, both have consequences if they don’t, I discovered what separates both groups are the standards they set for themselves.
One group is willing to compromise, the other group isn’t, it’s not even an option for them.
“To improve the quality of your life, improve the quality of your standards”- Tony Robbins
How compromising your standards affects you
If you really think about it I’m sure you can identify at least one area of your life that you are consistent in. An area that no matter what happens, good or bad, motivated or not, you show up and perform consistently without fail. It could be at your job, your business, as a parent, or in your personal life.
This is because from early on you set the standard of what to accept and what not to, what you will tolerate from yourself and what you will not.
Basically you held yourself to a higher standard and therefore perform as such. Whatever you tolerate is EXACTLY what you will get, whether from yourself or others.
So where your fitness goals are concerned you have tolerated making excuses and justifying why you can’t get it done today.
Over time you have conditioned your brain to accept this lowered standard as normal.
You may not be aware of it on a conscious level, but every time you lower your standards and accept less than you know you are capable of or deserve, it also indirectly affects your self-image and self-esteem. This ultimately creates self-doubt, and hinders you from achieving your fitness goals.
How to Stick With Your Fitness Goals by Committing to your standard
It’s not enough to set your Standard & Expectation, but you have to also create the Identity of Consistency by proving it to yourself with small victories.
What I means by the Identity of Consistency is to create the image of someone who is consistent in this area of your life.
The reason this is important is because what creates our behaviours, what determines what we do or don’t do, whether by choice or not, is our Identity. In other words the person who we believe we are and capable of.
This is the step by step process to help you develop this identity, and stick with your fitness goals:
1. Develop your Standard & Expectation (S&E) statement
This is the verbal declaration you make to yourself about what your standard and expectation is and what you are unwilling to compromise where your fitness goals are concerned.
This is important because you need to interrupt the lowered standard that has been conditioned. Your mind needs to know what the new standard is so it begins to displace the old one (you can use mine above as a benchmark to create yours).
It’s important to not only develop the statement, but also decide mentally to commit to the new standard you’ve set.
2. Make your verbal declaration out loud to yourself
It’s important to actually say it out loud to yourself so that it registers mentally to interrupt the old standard.
If you simply think it but don’t say it, then it won’t be enough, you have to actually say it out your mouth (Say it with energy and determination; repeatedly if necessary until you FEEL empowered)
3. Take action
Now I’m going to go beyond simply taking action (that’s pretty obvious). What I want to point is what to do when you DON’T feel like taking action.
It’s easy to take action when you’re pumped up, motivated and driven. When you’re not what you need to do is repeat your verbal declaration to yourself again and move into action asap, whether you feel to or not.
What this does is start to further disrupt your old standard, and further cement the new one. Doing this by proving it to your subconscious not just through words, but through action.
It’s conditioning your brain to accept the new standard as real, and prevents it from saying ‘oh you’re not serious, you’re just talking as usual...I’m going to just ignore you’.
If you take action right after the declaration your brain will start to associate this new declaration with taking action, that you can trigger at will, thus creating your new Identity of Consistency.
4. Reaffirm the new standard by celebrating and congratulating yourself
Finally, you need to complete the process of cementing the new standard to create the new Identity.
The way to do this is celebrate and congratulate yourself after you have taken action and completed the routine. Repeat your verbal declaration, but in third person (kinda like that overzealous friend that’s always SUPER positive).
So instead of saying “I NEVER…” you say “Amazing/awesome! You did it! You actually followed through and was consistent! You really never miss a day and are consistent!”
This creates positive feelings such as Feelings of Pride, Accomplishment, Satisfaction, Determination etc. that now creates a desire to want to do it again, so you can experience these positive emotions again.
Over time you now begin to move from a state of self-doubt to a state of empowerment and self confidence.
In order for this strategy to be effective you can’t just follow through with it one time, or every now and then when you feel to. You basically have to do it EVERYTIME, EVERYDAY in order for the effect to finally take route in your mind.
This is how I was able to push pass my typical 15 days of consistency, and go all the way to 30 days and beyond without fail…but remember first it starts with setting your Standard & Expectation.
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