I’ve embarked on an exercise program with the help of a personal trainer. Having been a slacker for quite some time, I am finding it very challenging. At times, my body just won’t do what I want it to do. It’s extremely frustrating that I can’t do certain maneuvers that came fairly easy to me just a few years ago.

So how do you stick with something when it’s very hard and the goal line is far in the distance?

Get a partner. Having a coach to encourage (and occasionally yell at) me has been a boost. Let’s face it, when I know that she is waiting at the gym, I get there. Simply knowing that she is planning on it ensures that I don’t blow off the workout. In different work, I team with others who need me to get my stuff done, and they are encouraged to give me ongoing feedback.

Practice self-compassion. The dreaded plank! That move was easy peasy years ago. Now? Nope. Nada. I not only couldn’t do it well, I couldn’t do it at all! Instead of giving myself too much grief, I repeated this thought, “I am strong and capable. I can’t do this today, and I will be able to do it soon.” Result: I managed a decent plank just 10 days later (feeling your virtual fist bump!). Sure, I worked hard to get there, but it would have been a more frustrating and difficult process if I’d wasted time and energy beating myself up.

Use time deliberately. Make a plan for when you’re going to focus on this stretch assignment. Break it up into manageable chunks, schedule it on your calendar and keep it sacred. Think of it like brushing your teeth, which most people do at least twice a day. Do you HAVE to brush your teeth each day? No, but you do it because it’s healthy in the long run and feels great. The same can be said for accomplishing your challenging goal.

Create mini deadlines. There’s nothing like a looming deadline to get me going. So when I have something big to achieve, I set milestone deadlines. When I successfully pass one, I celebrate. I might treat myself to a nice coffee or stroll outside – anything that helps me mark the milestone’s completion.

Keep your eyes on the prize. You’ll be less likely to prevail if you don’t value the outcome. Figure out why achieving your goal matters. In my case, I value fitness because I want to be physically strong as I age. No marathon for me, but I sure would like to be able to get up off the floor when I’m 90.

Whether it’s fitness or a pesky project, being persistent when the going gets tough takes discipline, positivity and a clear sense that you’re focused on something important. As my favorite t-shirt says, “Life is short; do stuff that matters.”



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