When many flock to the gym this time of year to begin their New Year’s resolutions, most lose motivation some time in February. But, when it comes to sticking to your exercise goals, Brent Bishop tells us how your mental resolutions can be just as important.

We’ve all had those times where our workout routine becomes stagnant; we perform below our potential, decline in program adherence or drop it all together. But, resetting your mindset around fitness to include mental motivation, a sense of purpose and inspiration can significantly impact your results.

Change the Stimulus

If your exercise routine is not interest-driven you will not be motivated for long. Additionally, if you’ve been sticking to the same weekly routine you’re eventually going to hit a physical plateau. More detrimental is the associated mental plateau that can coincide with physical adaptation. When your routine becomes predictable and monotonous, you will inevitably become bored and discontinue. Try taking a seasonal approach to your exercise program: change it every 3 months. This ensures that your fitness plan has a new focus each quarter of the year, keeping things fresh and minimizing plateaus.

For example, this may involve preparing your body for snowshoeing in the winter, running in the spring, hiking in the summer and cycling in the fall.

Get Focused

If your goal is to become stronger, lose weight, or enhance your overall level of fitness, then you need a true focus. Have an action plan to help move you towards your goal. This year, spend the time to make realistic goals, with timelines, in which to achieve them. If you want to dramatically increase your fitness success, align your goals to specific events or accomplishments that you’re interested in.

For example, if you sign up for a 10km running event it can do wonders for keeping your fitness routine focused and on track for the deadline. The sense of accomplishment when you finish that race also helps to motivate you for future goal-oriented exercises.

Enlist Support

No one achieves success on their own. Some studies show that when you have support during your path towards a specific goal you can increase positive outcomes by over 40%! Additionally, when you share your fitness goals with those who are close to you it provides a level of accountability that helps you stick with it. Not to mention, those who care about you want to see you succeed and therefore they often adopt behaviors that support you in achieving your goals.

For example, once you’re clear on your goals, share them with your partner, close friend or family member and perhaps even get them to join you along your journey.

What’s Driving your Priorities?

Knowing what’s most important to you at each particular stage of your life is critical. In our early 20’s, our fitness goals may be driven by the desire to look fit, attract a partner or improve performance in a particular sport. As we move into our 30’s and 40’s there’s often a shift of importance towards leading a balanced lifestyle, warding off injury and keeping up with our kids.

Try setting aside 15 minutes to brainstorm on what your health and fitness priorities are at this stage in your life. Identify your top 3 and then align your goals with them.

Find your ‘Why’ and make it a Challenge

Whether your goals are aesthetically driven, performance-driven or purely health related, we all want to look, feel and perform at our very best. One of the largest obstacles to making your fitness goals a reality involves a lack of meaning or purposefulness. You can’t maintain motivation without inspiration. The problem is, the initial inspiration of losing weight, gaining muscle or rehabilitating an injury is short lived. Once we lose that initial inspiration, momentum is stifled and we often fall short of our goals. As mentioned previously, attaching your fitness goals to an event can help to keep you focused. Further aligning an altruistic purpose to your event brings a much deeper meaning to your physical preparations and can help you stick with it. There’s nothing more rewarding than pushing yourself to achieve a physical challenge that you’re inspired by. Supporting a much greater cause is a wonderful byproduct of your efforts. So, what’s your next challenge?

This year, take some time to think about causes that you believe in and choose an event of interest that supports that cause and aligns with your goals. This event-based goal, and renewed purpose, will evoke long-lasting inspiration and will guarantee to change the way you think about fitness and your health!