Lifehacker sat down with some experts—people who have really motivated others—for their tips on how to do what you already know you should.
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Don’t be too hard on yourself. Fitness expert (and Lifehacker contributor) Roger Lawson notes that we’re often our own biggest hurdle. “They’re simply too hard & expect too much from themselves; they think it has to be much harder than it has to be and when they don’t live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves, it all begins to fall apart,” he explains. This is the cycle many of you know: you start something with good intentions, stumble, get frustrated, and give up. Be nice to yourself—stumbles and failures are going to happen, no one’s perfect.
Don’t get caught up in the “all or nothing” mindset. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Doing something is better than doing nothing. “Don’t let optimal be the enemy of good enough,” Roger says. “Sure, you could be doing more or could be doing better, but if in the long run that gets in the way of you doing anything at all then it’s not use to you. Do what you can do and do consistently then worry about optimising later as you gain traction.” Remember, getting started is everything.
Understand how habits work. We’ve talked about the habit loop and how to break bad habits before, but it’s critical here. Richard Talens, co-founder of Fitocracy, your pick for best fitness tracking site, explains it like this: “Most people fail in fitness because they never enter a self-sustaining positive feedback loop. He explained that if exercise worked the way it does in the movies—where a montage plays and after every workout you look better and see results instantly, more people would stick to it. The key is to find a routine replacement that works for you, and that gets results for the energy you put into building it into your habits.