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How to stay motivated

You might think your inability to stick with a plan comes down to a lack of motivation, or maybe even a fundamental lack of willpower.

But, willpower isn’t what is holding you back. Most people ignore one simple rule.

It’s called The Goldilocks Rule. Finding what’s just right for you is the secret to better health.

The Goldilocks Rule states that we experience peak motivation when working on tasks that provide the right level of resistance, challenge, and complication.

In other words: if you take on new tasks that are too easy or too hard, that’s when motivation, focus, and consistency fall apart.

Let’s say you haven’t exercised in years and want to get back into the gym next year. You’re motivated and excited. Nothing can stop you.

So, you decide to try a 5-day, bodybuilder-style workout program designed for 12 weeks. On paper, it looks amazing. The weekly volume and total volume is enough to transform anyone. It has all the best exercises and it’s backed by all the latest exercise science research.

Here’s the issue: If you’re going from zero workouts to 5 days per week, the likelihood of success is low. It’s too big of a jump on every level. From the discipline to go 5 days a week, to the total amount of work (and stress) you’ll put on your body, it’s not practical or realistic.

Remember, with Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the focus was on finding a good fit. Picking the right program is the same. When you take on too much too soon, it’s easy to predict when you’ll miss a day or two. The missed days could frustrate you to quit the plan prematurely. Or, the dramatic jump from no workouts to lots of weekly volume increases the likelihood of injury, which can lessen your confidence.

And, that’s before we consider the squeeze this puts on your calendar. Let’s assume each workout is 30 minutes long. The move from 0 minutes of exercise to 150 minutes of exercise per week is ambitious and monumental.

You’re told you need to train a certain way to see changes. In reality, small jumps will still deliver changes, and — as you improve — you increase what you do. It’s cliche to tell people to enjoy the journey, but there’s a very real lesson in that wisdom. If you expect too much too soon, then you’ll rarely see the results you want.


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