Note: This is Part 3 of a 4-part article series.
THE NEXT STAGE: ACTION
The next stage of Prochaska's Transtheoretical model - 'Action' - kicks in once you've started taking (you guessed it) action.
If you're in this stage, you're ready to make changes – and now. In the Action stage, you know where you want to be, how you'll get there, and you've started (or are about to start) doing something get you moving. You've made it past the first major sticking point –overcoming inertia, but that doesn't mean it'll be an easy ride from here. No matter how good your intentions, starting a routine isn't the same as maintaining it. Obstacles – whether small (like an invitation to do something at a time you'd planned on working out) or large (like falling ill or injuring yourself) – are going to come up.
DEALING WITH OBSTACLES
When you encounter an obstacle, take a little time out to reconnect with your main goal and your reasons for wanting to achieve it. Remember why you're exercising in the first place. How could you still achieve your goal, and find ways around this new obstacle? Your journal can be your friend here – use it to reflect back over why something may have ended up being more difficult than expected, and to brainstorm ideas for different ways to move forward. You can also use it to proactively motivate yourself before obstacles appear – to track your progress in whatever area you'd like to see yourself improving.
GET OTHERS INVOLVED
If you haven't already, create an exercise routine that gets friends or family involved. Studies have shown that people whose friends or family support their goals are far more likely to achieve them, and it's hard not to feel supported when people you care about are working out alongside you. Not only that, but if you've agreed to meet your 'workout buddy' for an exercise session, you make it that much harder to let them down by deciding at the last minute you just can't be bothered today.
MAKE DEALS WITH YOURSELF
If you're having trouble summoning the motivation to get out the door, promise yourself you don't have to finish your workout if you don't want to. Decide that you only have to complete the first ten minutes, and then, if you really don't feel like keeping at it, give yourself permission to pack up and go home again. Most of the time, just getting out the door and starting will be enough.
For a short term motivational quick-fix, don't underestimate the power of bribery! Identify three or four different little things that bring you pleasure, and promise yourself you'll take time out and indulge in at least one of them if you complete your workout as scheduled.
Finally, if you're noticing increasing difficulty motivating yourself despite trying all of the above suggestions, consider talking to a personal trainer near you. A big part of qualifying as a trainer involves not just learning specific exercises, but learning how to keep clients motivated. If cost is an issue for you, think seriously about hiring an online trainer. Generally, online training is far more reasonably priced than face-to-face training - and if all you're wanting is someone to keep you enthusiastic and accountable, it means you're not paying for services you don't need. In next issue's conclusion to our Exercise & Motivation series, we look at the final stage of Prochaska's model – and what to do if you find yourself in the dreaded 'Relapse' stage. Until then, may every day bring you closer to your optimum life!
By Tanja Gardner
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