To achieve success in your New Year fitness or weight loss goal, it’s easy to think that all you need is motivation. Get motivated enough and you’ll do whatever it takes, right? If motivation is all you need, why do most New Year’s goals fail?
In reality, motivation is exactly what you don’t need.
Researchers have discovered that while many people are motivated about exercise, those who stick to their goals do one thing very differently from everyone else.
In a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers measured how frequently people exercised over a 2–week period. 248 subjects were divided into three groups:
Simply by writing down a plan that said exactly when and where they intended to exercise, the participants in Group 3 were much more likely to actually follow through.
Motivation without a plan of action had no significant effects on exercise behaviour.”
Most people talk about their New Year changes using words like motivation and willpower. But the truth is, we all have these things to some degree. Turning desire into action isn’t your level of motivation, but your plan for implementation.
No matter how perfect your plan, sometimes things run amok. The solution? Use the “if-then” strategy, which provides for a clear plan to handle unexpected events.
Put simply, planning the when and where of a specific behaviour turns your desire into a trigger for action. The time and place triggers your behaviour, not your level of motivation.
Motivation is short lived and doesn’t lead to consistent action. If you want to achieve your goals, then you need a plan for exactly when and how you’re going to execute on them.