It’s amazing how when you’re young time seems to be passing by so slowly, and of course, you look back and realize it wasn’t that long at all. Even more amazing, and sometimes startling, how quickly time decides to pass after 25. Middle age can really sneak up on a person and it’s never too early to start preparing for your future self.
That’s the self we tend to neglect the most. Recent studies find that we tend to think of our future selves with the same kind of indifference or unfamiliarity we might associate with a complete stranger! That’s hard luck for our future selves… if we let it be that way. It’s absolutely crucial we don’t forget ourselves today in order to see the best versions of us when we are older. Prepping for the future sounds ominous, and can be scary if we frame it in the large, universe-enveloping terms we often do. But we can, fortunately, take it one step at a time, if only we are patient.
Yes, we realize it’s far easier said than done. It certainly requires more than just snapping your fingers to really see the improvements we aim for in our bodies and ultimately our minds as well. There are some super simple practices and routine habits to develop which can help you to obtain and maintain a fit and youthful body. Yet, getting into these practices if often where we find ourselves lacking.
Make A To-Do List
First things first: the first step is often the most difficult. When I was in my teenage years, I had the toughest time just starting to get into a habit, like exercising daily. Unfortunately, with time I had to learn that it wasn’t just that I was 16 years old that made it so difficult to START a task; it’s simply human nature…. even when you’re 45 starting something new can seem daunting. Starting to exercise every day when you are used to a sedentary lifestyle can be a difficult thing to jump-start. You can start by
The first step to any real routine is hard partly because your mind isn’t referencing any previous version of yourself that it can use to motivate you into a new habit. It is very difficult to just wake up one morning and start drinking green juice for breakfast and having kale salad for lunch if you’ve spent the past couple years subsisting on fast foods and heavily-sweetened drinks. It’s not realistic; but that is okay. Drawing motivation to get into a routine can be a process, but one way to begin is to make a to-do list.
Now, don’t put everything you wish to be on that list right away: write down three or four new tasks for yourself and don’t make lists for the upcoming weeks, just go one day at a time. This gives you the realistic amount of time to incorporate new habits slowly and effectively. A to-do list can be an easy and realistic way to motivate yourself.
Remind yourself each day WHY you want to do something; what is you motivator that you may have shelved on the back-burner for a little too long?
The thing is, most of us do know what we want in the bigger picture, even if we don’t know the specifics. Do we want to be content with ourselves and our lives? Do we know what qualities in life bring us that feeling of contentment? At least vaguely, yes. We may need to take the time to delve a little deeper into ourselves and motivations to know just how to keep ourselves motivated. Try saying things out loud or write down the reason why you want to do something. Dig further into that reason and remind yourself the benefits of getting that thing done
For example, you might say, “I am going for a run right now”.
Then ask yourself: “Why?”
“Because I want to become fit.” or “I want to have more energy.”
Then, once again, as yourself: “Why?”
“Because… if I become fit, it will boost my confidence and self-esteem. That may make me more productive.” or “Because…
if I have more energy, I will be able to get done the things I want to, and maybe have more free time too.”
As you may start to notice, the why’s can continue to go further and further into the many positive results of the one action you intend to perform. You can remind yourself of the dangers of procrastination, and the postives of getting the things you want to do accomplished.
Enjoy Yourself: Don’t Make it a Chore
Make your goals and steps toward achieving them fun. Bettering yourself doesn’t have to be a chore, and in time it can become fun rather than difficult. If you’re dreading whatever you have set your mind on doing it will make it more difficult to start. In these cases, find ways to make the task more exciting. You could try including other people (have a gym buddy, or a study partner!) Challenge yourself new ways, and get out of your comfort zone, whatever it may be. Changing up your routine can be a great motivator!
You can promise yourself a reward when you get something done. I heard this wonderful diet advice once, when I was working on becoming healthier and it helped me accomplish a lot of my health goals:
“You are not a dog; do not treat yourself with food.”
I appreciated this advice because it really helped me with self-control, and also gave me that initial idea of rewarding myself when I have done something that I was proud of. Yes, I couldn’t treat myself with a brownie for going to the gym, but I could treat myself with something else! Depending on the tasks you want to accomplish, give yourself a spa treat! A movie night, or a night out with friends! Anything that doesn’t counter your initial purpose is a great way to reward yourself.
In the end, taking care of yourself will start with a bit of effort that may seem daunting. But in time it will become rewarding in itself, and you can be proud that you put yourself first!