Motivation isn’t the key to your success. You need a strategy to keep you on track toward your goals regardless of how motivated you feel. Here’s how to create that.

How many times have you started a new workout program or diet plan, guns blazing, ready for this to be the last first-day ever…

…only to find within a few day that your once overflowing motivation is now nowhere to be found?

Why Motivation Comes in Waves

The excitement of starting something new or seeing results inspires you to keep going. But once the newness wears off, you enter the day-to-day grind of just staying the course.

It’s not glamorous or flashy but it’s necessary to continue working toward your goals.

Even the fittest people you know, professional athletes, personal trainers, and nutrition coaches aren’t motivated all the time. They don’t always jump out of bed, eager to hit the gym. It’s not always easy to turn down dessert or plan their meals in advance. But they do it anyway.

What Do “Fit People”  Have That You Don’t?

They’ve set up their lives to support them.

And so can you. What do you need around you in order to be successful? The right framework can include people, places, and things that will increase your chances of following through with what you need to do to reach your goals. Even when you don’t feel like it.

Some factors to consider here are:

  • Gym Location. Which are you more likely to go to: the one across town or the one you drive past on the way to and from work? A gym at which you pay for a membership but never go is worthless. Better to spend your money on one that makes it nearly impossible to skip (even if that means spending a little bit more.)
  • Accountability. Would you be more likely to go to said gym if you knew a friend was there waiting for you? If so, how can you make that a reality? A gym partner won’t let you ditch out on a workout, even if you want to.
  • Access to Food. – If you don’t have junk food in the house, you won’t be able to eat it, right? But if you have a fruit basket that’ll be what you reach for, instead. Stock the kitchen with the foods you want to be eating. That way, when those (inevitable) moments of weakness occur, you’ve already set yourself up for success.

Think about exactly what you need to put in place to make your goals a reality. Then, create this framework to support you through the periods of low motivation. After all, taking action is what will get you results.

The Importance of Routines

Have you ever moved to a new neighborhood but found yourself parked in front of your old house a month later? Or ordering a muffin with your morning coffee even though you brought breakfast?

This is the power of routines. Routines are sequences of actions regularly followed. Your existing routines may be working against you, as in the muffin example. But it’s never too late to build new routines to work for you.

Imagine you’ve joined that new gym on the way to and from work. The first week, you pull into the parking lot every day on the way home. You don’t even get out of the car, you just build the stop into your daily routine. Before you know it, your car is basically driving itself to the gym and all that’s left is to make it inside.

Having routines in place will help you continue to show up – and do the work – even when you don’t want to.

Routines aren’t limited to the gym. An evening routine could help you prepare breakfast and pack your gym bag in advance so that all you have to do in the morning is walk out the door. Grocery shopping on the same day every week can help you carve out time and portioning out snacks as soon as you get home can prevent a chip overdose later in the week.

What routines could you put in place to make it easier for you to take action?

The Importance of Planning

You know how when you leave the dentist, you’re immediately asked to schedule your next appointment, six months later? In October, you have no idea what day in April is going to be convenient to make awkward small talk with someone’s hands in your mouth. Yet you make the appointment.

Months later, when you get the postcard in the mail (am I dating myself here?), you think, “oh, I’m glad Dr. Smith reminded me.” Not because you would mind skipping the dentist, but because you’ve already scheduled the appointment and blocked out the time.

The same goes for anything else you should do but might not want to. Or want to do now but might not want to do when the time comes. If it will help you reach your goals, you need to find time to get it done.

If you want to workout three times per week, which days and times are you going to do so?

Grocery shopping and meal prepping are things that need to happen every week. When? If you don’t make the time, it won’t happen.

“Fit” people don’t have more hours in their day, they just plan for the things that are important to them. Here’s how:

(1) Map out exactly when you’re going to do the things you need to do to reach your goals.

(2) Look at your calendar, consider your other obligations, and block out the necessary time.

(3) Treat these appointments with the same respect you would treat a meeting with your boss.

When you have time blocked out for important tasks, you’ll get them done regardless of how motivated you’re feeling. How can you plan out time for the actions that will get you closer to your goals?

Start Today

There’s no time like the present. Set aside some time today to map out the rest of your week. Figure out when your prioritize can get done and get them on the books.

Download this Creating Healthy Routines Checklist to help you get started.