Exercise can be remarkably beneficial for physical and mental health, yet many people find it challenging to maintain a routine. In this article, captain Jako Hall discusses proven strategies for making exercise a permanent part of life. These seven steps involve planning, using social accountability, and rewards to establish habits that become routines and eventually results.
Step #1. Create Goals
The first and most important step is to create measurable goals. Without clearly defined goals, you’re left with only a wish to become healthy, not a plan. Create measurable goals such as weight loss, miles run or bike, the amount you can lift, and so on. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable to avoid discouragement.
Step #2. Make exercise enjoyable
Find ways to combine what you love with your exercise routine, and soon enough, you will learn to love your routine. For some people, audiobooks are the answer. Getting lost in a good novel helps the gruelling hours of endurance sports pass quickly. For others, podcasts and energetic music do the trick.
Step #3. Be consistent
Once you have accepted that your exercise routine is what you do – no matter what – it becomes exponentially easier. If each day you have to decide again whether or not you will work your plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. Make the decision once and stick to it.
Step #4. Make a tangible commitment
Some people have signed up for a marathon before taking their first running step. The act of making a tangible commitment – something more than just telling themselves they will do it – gives the extra motivation needed during the hard times. Inviting some friends to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim with you, for example, might be enough of a tangible commitment to keep you motivated.
Step #5. Leverage social accountability
If you are influenced by peer pressure, and we all are, use it to your advantage. Announce to the world on social media or one-on-one with family and friends that you have decided to start an exercise routine and ask for their help sticking to your plan. Your real friends will support and encourage you. For anyone that tries to discourage you, you may want to reevaluate your relationship with that person to determine if they genuinely have your best interest at heart.
Step #6. Use baby steps
Discouragement is your enemy. Provide yourself with every opportunity to succeed. By adding small incremental improvements to your routine, you build in opportunities for achievement, and these successes will keep you motivated to keep going. If you bite off more than you can chew or try and reach your goal before you’re ready, the disappointment may derail your efforts. We all fail at one time, but make sure you have way more successes than failures.
Step #7. Reward yourself
Nearly everyone responds well to a system of rewards. For some, it might be a dinner out after reaching a certain goal, others might be more motivated by a new workout outfit, and still, others might give themselves a day off from exercise when they achieve a milestone. The important thing is to create – and write down – a rewards system that is significant enough that will get you out of bed on a cold winter’s morning.
About Jako Hall
Captain Jako Hall is an experienced mariner and a former naval officer known for his strong work ethic and ability to lead and motivate crews. He pursued Maritime Studies at the University of Technology in Cape Town and has received the highest level of training in Navigation and Seamanship during his years in the Navy. After 13 distinguished years in the Navy, Jako joined the superyacht industry, following his passion for creating unique and exclusive experiences for high-net-worth clients. He’s managed multi-million euro projects that required attention to detail and efficiency and has a proven track record of operating at sea in remote and unsupported areas.