These days it seems that we are a society based on instant gratification. We want immediate results. We are looking for that little burst of something that somehow we think is going to make our lives better. Or, if you want to put it into scientific terms, instant gratification gives you a little dopamine rush in your brain that makes you feel like a reward has just happened. And, this can be addicting.
This is something that our brains have been wired for, but now many areas on the Internet, social media, or marketing are using it to keep us engaged and involved in their world.
I believe that the expectation of instant gratification may be making it even harder for people to get into a new exercise plan, whatever that may be.
Just to be clear, I am also talking about a phenomena that I see all the time in fitness (and diets, for that matter). There is a promise of results in a matter of weeks, often supposedly with very little effort. Maybe the plan goes on for a month or more, but the message is still the same. Do this one thing, and get results FAST.
The trouble is, instant gratification involves no planning, no thought process, no readiness to change, and no faith in yourself that you can sustain an activity for it’s own (and your) sake. You don’t have to be resilient, learn how to make decisions to overcome obstacles, or develop a strong talent for self-talk that can keep you on track for the long haul. Instead, instant gratification gives you the illusion that you are creating something of value for yourself, when in fact, you are not.
In order to succeed at a fitness habit, you need to have a solid underlying belief that persistence pays off, and that you are capable of being persistent.
In order to pull off a new exercise/fitness habit, or keep up with the one you already have, here’s a few things that will keep you going that ARE NOT anything like the instant gratification that we are all becoming used to. Instead, you can replace it with a different kind of “instant gratification” that KEEPS ON giving you small rewards along the way. Reshaping gratification in this way will put you into the league of people with a consistent fitness habit!
- Take note of your persistence and have pride in it every day.
- Leave room for mystery. By all accounts, there is often a “messy middle” that follows an enthusiastic beginning. Here, it may not be clear where you are headed. In order to conquer this phase, you will need to let go of a specific result that you want. Put your energy into chipping away at the process, knowing that results will come if you do.
- Have faith in yourself. You have conquered other things in the past by sticking with the learning process. You can do it again.
- Play a different game. Rest on your laurels, knowing that you are creating huge value for yourself, even if it may not be visible to you or to others at first. This game is the one where you care about yourself, feel your resilience, and are getting joy from leaning to connect the dots in new ways.
BOTTOM LINE: Notice that all 4 or these relate to keeping your exercise habit a learning process. You learn about yourself, your capabilities, and the great feelings you can get from consistent exercise. Learning is what brings you little daily rewards, the rushes of dopamine, and the REAL changes that will make your life better.
RELATED: My blog of April 17, 2018 called “Motivation: Friend or Foe?” available on my website.
All the best,
© 2018 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.