The path to getting healthy or staying in shape is filled with difficulties. But, fear not, there are several things you can do to stay focused and driven. Below, we are going to address three major factors that can mean the difference between success and failure when you start embracing the pain: mental toughness, setting goals, and rewarding yourself.
In the first two parts of this series we discussed why getting motivating during winter is so difficult, and a few common excuses that can leave you with a negative attitude towards your health. For this final part we will discuss overcoming challenges that hinder your progress.
1. Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is the ability to remain flexible, calm and collected, and persistent in the face of adversity. This can the difference between succeeding and failing. While this
buzz word exists prominently in athletics and business, the term is applicable to travelers as well. I’m convinced that traveling is 80% overcoming challenges, and that those obstacles make you a better person. Whether it be trying to communicate with someone, homesickness, figuring out a bus schedule or a place to sleep for the night the act of traveling is filled with many stressful situations that require a good deal of mental toughness to overcome.
Studies have shown that fear inhibits our mental fortitude, but that we can learn to rewire our brains and overcome fear. Fear rears its ugly head because our mind is telling us that we are encountering a situation out of the norm. So how do you get rid of fear? As a seasoned traveler the butterflies leave you and jumping on a plane with only a semblance of a plan is exciting not scary. You now have the skills and confidence in your ability to thrive in any culture, even one you know nothing about. Working out is the same way.
If you haven’t worked out in a long time, or don’t know how to get back in to a routine you are going to feel some apprehension towards the idea. But, don’t worry, that’s a good thing. Your body is talking to you, telling you that this is out of the norm. Know yourself and listen to those little voices at first, hear what they have to say, and then banish them. Use their concerns to build a workout plan. If you are worried about pushing yourself too hard, then start slow. If you are scared of failure then try even harder to succeed.
Like your health, build up your mental toughness slowly. Exercising alone will increase your threshold for pain and your mental fortitude. But, there are also other ways to build up your mental toughness.
2. Setting Realistic Goals
Nothing kills motivation faster than setting goals that are too lofty or unattainable. If you are just getting back in to a workout routine be realistic about your current level of fitness and what you can accomplish. If you haven’t been out jogging in years then don’t make running five days a week a goal. Our bodies adapt, but not instantly. Plus the pain and agony of trying to reach a lofty goal will make you resent working out instead of incorporating it in to your life.
When setting goals think about your current schedule and what you have time for. Start small and build from there. Remember that we all have to start somewhere, and, just like travel, sometimes the road to your destination is long and fraught with challenges. If your work requires you to be on the road for long period of times work with that. If you spend three weeks a month traveling make it a goal to run in five different cities a month. Something fun, but still physically challenging will help you ease into a new routine.
One useful goal setting technique is to set long and short term goals. Sit down, pull out a pen and set your long term goals. Think big here. Make them lofty. Put your dreams down, and don’t worry about setting a deadline. When you have that list put together start from today and work up a list of “action steps” or small goals that will lead you to your big, long term goals. Each action step should build off of the one before it and progress you towards your goal. This goes for heath goals, career goals, life goals, and any other type of goals you might be setting. See our goal template below:
Long Term Goal: I will run in 40 different cities this year
Monthly Goal: I will run in 5 different cities that I visit for business this monthAction Step 1: Choose first city and run for 30 minutes Action Step 2: Choose second city and run for 30 minutes Action Step 3: Choose third city and run for 30 minutes Action Step 4: Choose fourth city and run for 30 minutes Action Step 5: Choose fifth city and run for 30 minutes
Not only will setting a long term goal and action steps help you track and see your progress, which can be motivating, but you also stay more focused and realistic on what you are trying to accomplish. Before you know if you will have accomplished something extraordinary by just starting slow and grinding away bit by bit.
3. Be Good to Yourself
After you have accomplished your goal, such as running in 5 different cities, reward yourself. Take yourself out for a nice dinner. Buy a new pair of running shoes. Do something that will positively affirm your accomplishment. It may seem silly at first, but as your goals get more challenging, you will find yourself looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. Life should be a satisfying experience, and that goes for your progress as well.
Along these same lines, don’t give up if you don’t meet an action step or goal; instead, go back to the drawing board and reevaluate yourself and your goals. Maybe you aimed to high, or maybe you misjudged yourself. Either way, you learned something and are stronger for it. Stay positive and try again. And whatever you do, do not give up on yourself!