Talk is cheap. Action is priceless. If you say things like, “I will work out next Monday,” but never seem to follow through, then I’m talking to you. You’re having this problem because, while your goal is a good one, it doesn’t include a specific means to achieve it. Thus, you have set yourself up for failure from the start. If you would like to end this cycle of disappointment, please read ahead to find out why vague goals are worthless (and what you should do instead).
If you don’t arm yourself with a specific procedure to follow before attempting to implement a new health habit, you’ll probably get so busy going through the motions of every day life that you procrastinate or forget all about it. This is why you need to have a clear plan in place before you start. Below are some common things people say they would like to do to improve their health, but often fail to follow-through. I will also provide a simple strategy you can follow to stack the odds in your favor.
“I will work out on Monday.”
My roommate and I played the “we will work out on Monday” game for an entire semester in college. We failed over and over again, because we didn’t understand the limited nature of willpower. Working out early was difficult, because we both had classes first thing in the morning; and by the time we were done with our classes and work study jobs, we were so tired that we didn’t feel like it.
“Oh, well. We’ll try again next week!” I’m too embarrassed to admit how many times those words came out of my mouth. We should have began by analyzing our schedules and committing to a specific time to exercise that was convenient for both of us. Since we were exhausted by the evening, we could have planned on waking up an hour early, so we would have time to exercise and shower before class.
Our second limiting factor was confusion about what to do. There was a lot of equipment available in our campus gym and we didn’t have a clue about how to use most of it, so even on the rare occasion when we convinced ourselves to exercise, we weren’t confident in our approach. We should have invested in a training routine suitable for our mutual goals, because this would have removed guesswork from the equation.
- Identify your common excuses and plan to train at a time that will make them a moot point.
- Remove all doubt and confusion by finding a routine that is suitable for your fitness goals.
“I need to drink more water.”
Even though this goal sounds easy enough, very few people manage to do it. This is often because the taste of water isn’t appealing when you get used to flavored beverages that are more pleasurable to your taste-buds. If you want to drink more water, then you need to make it a more enjoyable experience.
I highly recommend investing in a glass pitcher to keep in your refrigerator, because ice cold water will probably taste better than lukewarm water. Next, experiment with natural flavors by chopping up pieces of your favorite fruit and squeezing in the juice to make it taste more interesting. Click here if you’d like some recipe suggestions.
Don’t trust yourself to remember to drink more water, even if you keep a bottle at your desk. It’s too easy to forget things when you are distracted. You could use a cellphone alarm to remind you to drink a glass of water at specified times, or simply take a few gulps every hour on the hour. Also make sure to drink a glass before your meals, because the feelings of hunger and thirst are hard to distinguish, and doing so could help you avoid overeating.
- Use a glass pitcher and natural flavors to make water taste better.
- Make this habit easy to remember by using cellphone alarms or taking a drink every hour.
- Drink a glass of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner to make sure you don’t eat too much.
“I want to start preparing meals at home.”
I remember how confused I was the first time I decided to browse healthy recipes. The instructions for complicated dishes sounded like they were written in a foreign language. I felt hopeless and defeated before I even started. As a consequence, I put it off and relied on the deli at my local grocery store for a very long time.
I finally told a friend about my troubles. She took pity on me and asked if I would like to be taught how to make an omelet, since that would be an easy way to start. I agreed and she walked me through it. The first time I tried by myself, I burnt the eggs and made a big mess. It took several months of practice to get to a point that I wasn’t too embarrassed to share this dish with another person.
Now I can make a darn good omelet. In fact, I’ve made specialty omelettes for several people, and they all raved about how delicious they were. My initial mistake was looking at recipes that were too complex for a beginner. If you can relate with my story, I encourage you to begin by learning how to prepare ONE meal only (and make it a really easy one!). Practice until you are happy enough with the result that you would gladly share it with enough person. At that point, choose another and repeat this process.
- Focus on learning one recipe at a time to avoid overwhelm.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you get started if you need to.
- Practice that one recipe until you can make it flawlessly every time before tackling another.
Do you have any suggestions for people who are tackling the healthy habits discussed here? If so, our readers would benefit from your knowledge, so please share in the comments. Feel free to share this article with any friends you know who would be helped by it.
About the Author
Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous“