In this society with 24hr news cycles, “binge-worthy” streaming series, work, family, and play, finding the time, let alone the motivation, to work out can be difficult. Whether you are new to exercise or a workout enthusiast, here are a few tactics to help find your motivation more easily.

Start with defining your goal.

It is impossible to reach a goal if you don’t clearly define it. Some people may argue it is best to work towards a broader, long-term goal rather than setting a specific short-term goal as it can be discouraging if one doesn’t reach their specified goal in the respective time frame. However, without definition, a goal is undermined by a lack of accountability and built-in motivation. Make your goal SMART: Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-bound.

Specify increments and reward yourself.

We have all heard the story of the turtle and the hare. The turtle is slow but consistent, while the fast hare underestimates its opponent. In exercise, the lesson holds. It is essential to pace yourself. Rather than starting with an entire body workout five days a week, begin with fewer days and less intense exercises. After two weeks, consider increasing your intensity and reward yourself for the progress thus far.

Why?

Exercising is a lot like working a second job; most people would rather avoid doing it. Those that do, have a reason for doing it. Maybe you want to feel better walking up the stairs, or perhaps you want to feel confident during your next trip to the beach. Whatever the case, find your reason for exercising and remind yourself of it daily. 

Create a pattern.

It is no secret that our brains respond to repetition. Repetition is what helped us learn our name, our alphabet, and our numbers. Humans are creatures of habit. While the amount of time it takes to form a new habit can range from merely 18 days to a whopping 254 days, once a person has developed a new habit, the behavior becomes automatic. 

Before beginning your exercises each day, start with a pre-workout routine. This could be as simple as drinking some water and stretching. The importance is not the length of the pre-workout routine, but rather what it tells your mind: “This is what happens before I exercise.” Over time, this pre-workout routine will “signal” your brain that it is time to work out. In a moment where you feel too unmotivated to work out, merely drinking your water and stretching will provide the motivation needed to start and finish your exercises.