Why ‘Just Do It’ Isn’t Moving You

Just do it

The ‘Just Do It’ Mentality

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a client tell me, “I know what I need to do… I guess my challenge is just getting myself to do it,” I’d probably be counting a big stack of dollar bills instead of writing this post. I’d bet my imaginary stack of dollar bills that most of the time, we don’t need to gather more information about what we should change in our lives. We probably know what needs to change. What we need is to feel moved to ‘just do it.’

Finding motivation is easier said than done. Change is more complicated than waving a magic wand and suddenly gaining the ability to conquer your goals.

Why You’re Not ‘Doing It’

Let’s say waking up earlier to exercise is your goal. Maybe you set multiple alarms. I know that mine read: 1. ‘Start waking up,’ 2. ‘Okay, seriously, get up!’ and 3. ‘Chelsea. You’re LATE.’

If you don’t wake up on time, you might beat yourself up mentally. “Why can’t I just make myself do this? I suck at waking up. I’m never going to meet my fitness goals.” — you get the picture. After repeated failed attempts, we might feel less able to make changes and our goals seem a lot more daunting.

The Recipe for Behavior Change Success

This example applies to so much more than just waking up to work out. Think about what your goals are. Do you want to prepare more meals at home? Drink more water? Make more time for meditation? Whatever your goals, thinking to yourself, “just do it,” probably won’t be enough to get you there. Two factors will determine your success in reaching your goals. You have to:

  1. Truly believe that changing is important
  2. Have the confidence that you can do it

How to Really Do It

Seems easy right? Nope. If those steps were so simple to follow, I probably wouldn’t have a job. I counsel people all day by moving them towards their health goals through changes big and small. Here’s some practical advice based on what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Find what will move you: Write down why you want to meet your goal. Why is it important to you? Put a sticky note on your mirror. Put a reminder on your phone. Tell someone about it.
  2. Work on the actual problem first: Even if you know why changing is important, maybe you’re truly not ready to make a change. Get to the root of your problem. Maybe you can’t wake up for the gym on time because you can’t wind down for bed at a reasonable hour. Work on that first.
  3. Acknowledge your obstacles: Stare them in the face and consider how you can work around them. Is it impossible to make meals during the week because you’re too tired when you get home? Think of ways to work around it. (Prep on the weekends, make simpler meals, find healthier choices at restaurants, etc.)
  4. Break it down: Make small goals that you know you can meet. Accomplish your small goal, give yourself a mental gold star, and then make your goal a little loftier. That’s how you build confidence. Need help? Read up on goal-setting here.
  5. Make a plan, but be flexible in your approach: Life happens. You’re not going to be perfect all of the time. I’m telling you that’s okay.
  6. Be kind to yourself: One failure does not mean you’re completely unable to make a change. If you mess up your diet once and eat a cookie, now isn’t the time to say, “screw it,” and eat the whole package. Every moment you’re awake is a new opportunity to move towards your goals. Take a note from a favorite Japanese proverb of mine; “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
  7. …but not too Kind: Find small ways to push yourself every day. Getting uncomfortable stinks sometimes, but that’s where your growth will happen.

At the end of the day, changing our health can be tough. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The key is to be reflective and honest with yourself in the pursuit of your goals. (You’ve got this. I know it.)

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