Stick the Routine

Stick the Routine

Every year, month, day, hour people full of honest and good intent set out to improve their health and fitness. The goals range from lofty weight loss to improved strength and conditioning to completing a marathon, and everything in between. Eighty to ninety percent of those well intentioned people will fail to meet their goals and give up completely until motivation strikes again. Then they repeat the process over and over like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Below are five common reasons people fail and ONE thing you can do to stay on track and hit your goals. First though, we need to acknowledge change is hard! If it wasn’t the failure rate would not be this high!

According to James Clear of Atomic Habits, there are 5 reasons people fail to stick to their resolutions for change.

  1. They try to change everything at once.
    • Change is hard enough, don’t make it more complicated by trying to change more than a maximum of 3 small things at once. Preferably change only one small thing at a time.
    • Don’t move forward until you have mastered the small change. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a master of none.
  2.  They start with a habit that is too big.
    • It’s great to have big goals, but how do you get there? Every goal starts with a single step. Break the big goal down into small habit changes.
    • New habits need to be non-threatening and so easy that it’s impossible to say no. 
    • You could aim to train 5x a week, but when was the last time you trained 1x a week? Start there!
  3. They seek a result, not a ritual.
    • Fitness is a results-obsessed industry. How much do you weigh, how much body fat do you have, how much do you deadlift, do you even lift bro? 
    • New goals don’t deliver results, new lifestyles do. Lifestyles are not outcomes, they are a process.
    • Focus your energy on building better rituals, not chasing better results. Rituals, highly precise behaviors done at a specific time over and over, turn into habits. To see the results, you need new habits.
  4. They don’t change their environment.
    • It’s virtually impossible to change habits in a negative environment.
    • Habits are a response to the environment we put ourselves in.
    • The single biggest change that will make a new habit easier is performing it in an environment that is designed to make that habit succeed. You can get a great workout at home, but if you are new to exercise and need accountability and discipline, a small group in a local gym will increase your chances of success infinitely. 
  5. They assume small changes don’t add up.
    • People love big goals and feats. It makes sense; big goals are impressive and attention grabbing. The problem is that people think that they must make big changes to achieve big goals. 
    • The habits you have today, good or bad, are the sum of incremental changes over time.
    • 1% better every day adds up over time, just like compounding interest on your 30 year mortgage turns that $200,000 home into $400,000 for the bank. 
    • Small changes add up and create a domino effect.

Whew! Long list of reasons we as people fail to affect change in our lifestyles. Luckily, our friends at Strength Matters shared one short, easy strategy to increase your chances of success greatly. It is known as the “implementation intention” formula and has been researched and proven to significantly increase compliance from 35%-91%! You make a plan beforehand about when, where, and what you will do to implement a habit. Ex. “I will exercise every “insert day of week” for “X minutes” at “X time”  in“X location” for one year. You can use this formula for any habit you want to implement. Write it down! Share it with someone to hold you accountable. The goal is to never miss, but the rule is never miss twice! Life inevitably gets in the way, but the habit should be easy enough to implement no matter what  happens. A goal without a plan is just a dream!

Written by Coach Jared MacDonald