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I was going to begin a three part rant about training myths this week - just to kick the new year off in style - but a trip to the gym on Monday sidetracked me, so you’ll have to wait until next week for that.  I normally go to the gym (assuming I’m not working) three or four times a week and - as always happens in these circumstances - I’ve become quite comfortable with my routine and with seeing the same old faces.  So, after a couple of weeks off for the festive season, I returned to the gym on Monday at the usual time with a spring in my step and was confronted with a surprisingly full car-park.  Inside, the gym was full, and it was full of people whose faces I didn’t recognise.  For a moment, I wondered what was going on and then it struck me.  These new people, wandering in a slightly lost fashion around the gym, clutching their brand new workout cards, looking for the next piece of equipment on their list, were busily executing on their New Year’s Resolutions.

Now, I’m not trying to be cynical about people who decide to make changes in their lives.  I’m not one of those people who thinks that it’s impossible for people to change or that  changes are always destined to fail.  But it is the case that the odds are most of these new gym-bunnies will fall by the wayside and stop going to the gym in fairly short order.  Market research indicates that only just over 25% of gym members actually go to the gym and some statistics I’ve seen show that 90% of new members will stop going in the first 90 days.  Change4Life UK assert that most New Year’s Resolutions last for barely longer than a week.

It’s all very sad and you have to wonder why this happens.  The answer that’s often given is a lack of motivation and there are plenty of resources out there to help keep motivation up.  There are lots of little techniques, from visualisation to positive reinforcement that can help with motivation.  However, while motivation is a part of achieving any goal, I’m afraid that it’s not the most important part.

When someone says that they’re not motivated to do something, what they’re really saying that that they don’t feel like doing it.  Well, that may be the case, but the fact is that the only way to achieve a goal is to work at it - constantly, not just at the times when we feel like doing it.  Life sometimes - often - expects us to do things that we don’t feel like doing: the difference between people who succeed and those who don’t is often that those who succeed didn’t use “not feeling like it” as an excuse not to do what need to be done.

So, if you’re working on a New Year’s Resolution, may I make a suggestion?  Motivation is important and I’m very happy to do what you can to maintain it; but focus more on your discipline.  It’s not a fashionable word and maybe for some it has some negative connotations but I promise you that cultivating discipline will have a far greater impact on your ability to execute on your goals than motivation.  Make the commitment and stick to it.   Good luck.

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