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Top Three Ways To Keep Motivated (Tried And Tested By The Experts!)

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Did you make the same New Year Resolutions this year as last, vowing that this time it will be different and that you really will stick to them rather than break them – probably by February? If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. We all start out with the best intentions at this significant time of year, particularly with 2020 being a new decade.

Having enjoyed the Christmas and New Year festivities, involving eating and drinking and relaxing with family and friends, having had time off work or your daily routine and your eye off the bathroom scales, it’s now time to get back on track. It’s so much harder in winter to stick to diets or fitness regimes or make rash promises about improvements to your life, so how do you motivate yourself to stick to your goals for 2020?

Rather than trying unsuccessfully to emulate the perfect bodies with enviable lifestyles that stare at us from our magazines and screens, the answer, according to researchers on the subject, is to set more realistic goals for ourselves, thereby enabling us to keep up the momentum and, as the goals are more manageable, see them through!  How do I do this?

Here are three tried and tested ways to keep motivation and momentum to achieve your goals.

Stop telling yourself what you ‘should’ do.

“Psychologists call this the ‘internalised critic’ and believe we are naturally primed to rebel like teenagers when we hear the word ‘should’” says Dr Jennifer Wild, the author of Be Extraordinary, published on January 30 by Robinson. She’s a consultant clinical psychologist and an associate professor at the University of Oxford. Instead of thinking how you ‘should’ go to the gym, ask yourself how you may feel after you’ve been. “The response is likely to be: ‘I will feel energised and enjoy a sense of achievement.’ Relief and achievement are far more rewarding and motivating than the consequences of staying put and avoiding something.”

Try it for three minutes.

Yes, you read that right. Struggling to get outside to go for a run? “Give yourself permission to try your new behaviour for three minutes, says Dr Wild. “Then reassess how you are feeling, give yourself permission to carry on for another three minutes if you choose not to stop”. This get-out clause makes trying an activity seem more manageable and therefore easier to achieve. “Rather than thinking “I should be running for 15 minutes”, you change it to “I am going to run for three minutes and then review – and anybody can run for three minutes, including me.” By building up a series of achievable steps, before you know it you have run for 15 minutes – or at least made it easier to run for six minutes the next day.”

We all now know that keeping the brain in shape is as important as keeping physically fit. Even if you’re not a regular gym visitor or runner, taking daily bouts of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) for 30 minutes for five days a week is associated with improved brain structure and function, reported kinesiologists from the University of Maryland in the US. Staying fit in midlife has been proved to keep your mental clarity at its best, and even if you are  young enough to not worry about the ‘later years’, it’s important to remember this, as time has a habit of disappearing faster and faster over the years, as older friends and relatives will confirm!  

Write things down.

“Write down the date by which you wish to complete a particular goal. Then every morning answer the question “What can I do to improve my motivational process today?”, suggest Andy Ramage, an Essex-based behavioural change expert and author of Let’s Do This! by Octopus Books.

“By physically writing your goal down every day you reconnect with it consciously and subconsciously.” For example, if your goal is to save £100 a month, your step today might be to stay within a certain send limit.

At the end of each day, give yourself a mark out of ten. “It makes you think about whether or not you made the effort to follow your plan”. If not you can tweak tomorrow morning’s goal and you will begin to see tangible improvements. “The act of writing proves a goal is of value.”

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