In 1989, Stephen Covey published what is arguably the greatest self-help book ever published: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
And to close out 2019, I’m going to do my best to put my own spin on the concept for those in the fitness realm.
In doing so, I hope to set you up for a lifetime of consistent quality results that you can be proud of.
And I have confidence that these habits can help do just that.
Because habits are a powerful thing.
Once you’ve established a habit, it is nearly impossible to give it up. They become mini-traditions that occur on a daily basis, and eventually a large part of our routine-driven lives.
So, you better make sure the habits you set for yourself align with your goals.
Take these 7 habits with you into the New Year and you’ll remain/become a highly motivated and successful gym-goer.
1. They Set Clear Goals
The people who are most successful in the gym are those that set clear-cut goals. They know exactly what they hope to accomplish, and in knowing the finish line, it is far easier for them to remain motivated during the process leading up to that end goal.
Not only are they setting goals, but they also focus on accomplishing one thing at a time.
You may think you are casting a wide, fail-proof net by setting multiple goals such as increasing your muscle size, setting personal records on lifts, maintaining your abs, and improving your athletic performance, but the truth is you’re chasing way too many rabbits at one time.
Often times, this leads to you feeling discourage. Because even if you accomplish one of those goals, you feel a sense of failure not having fulfilled the others.
When you change your approach to goal setting and focus on one key goal at a time, you become more successful, and you may even be able to completely crush that goal better than if you were putting your focus on other goals at the same time.
Also, by setting one goal, you’re better able to map out a game plan to accomplish that goal. Why? In the fitness realm, key goals are often conflicting and require different variables to accomplish them (ex: build muscle AND lose fat).
From that game plan, you can begin making small, sustainable changes in your life so you can get there.
2. They Make Small, Sustainable Changes at a Time
The next habit successful and motivated gym goers have is that they make small, sustainable changes at a time. Once they’ve successfully implemented a change into their life, workout routine, or nutrition plan, they slowly add the next small change.
It can be tempting to change your whole lifestyle all at once. You have your goal, you know what it’ll take, and you’re ready to go all in. This approach can work for some people.
But not everyone.
Often, it sets people up for failure and disappointment. For example, if your goal is fat loss, you may decide you’re going to completely clean out your pantry, buy and meal prep healthy foods only, workout 6 times a week, and maintain a drastic calorie deficit until you’ve reached your goal.
However, in this scenario you’ve alienated food groups from your diet, committed yourself to meal prepping and working out for the foreseeable future, and cut out far too many calories from your diet to start off with.
You could have success doing this for the first week or two, but what happens when you’ve forgotten to meal prep and have to eat something on the fly that may put you over the calorie deficit you’ve set for yourself? You’re going to feel guilty and disheartened.
Instead, focus on adding things in slowly. Meal prep a couple of your meals and start out counting your calories to see your current consumption. As you get used to meal prepping, figure out a way you can maintain a slightly lower calorie balance.
Then determine other positive changes you can make in your life to accomplish your goals.
3. They Have Fun with Their Workouts
For years the fitness industry has painted this picture that your workouts have to be hardcore to get progress – the whole “make your muscles beg for mercy” misconception.
Truth is painful DOMs, puking, and buckets of sweat aren’t part of the equation when it comes to making gains.
Those types of workouts aren’t sustainable. You know what is? Having fun.
The most motivated of gym-goers actually enjoy being there. They have fun with their workouts. And since they have fun with their workouts, they don’t want to miss them.
When the time does come when they stop having fun, they change their goals and pick a new preferred form of exercise that they do find fun. That’s how a consistent, happy, and healthy lifestyle is made.
4. They Have Perspective
Those who are most motivated and successful in the gym put things in perspective.
They see the larger picture in life.
So, when they miss a workout, they understand it’s just one missed workout. They don’t need to start over. They don’t need to give up.
They just either need to find a way to move a little more during the course of that missed workout day or realize they’ll have tens of thousands of other workout days they’ll crush.
And when they accidently go over their caloric limit for the day, they don’t panic and try to get a cardio workout in before they go to bed to ensure they earned those calories. They don’t starve themselves the next day to “right the ship”.
Instead, they put it in perspective and realize that as long as their weekly (or even monthly) caloric balance reflects their goals, they’ll be all right.
5. They Have a Bedtime Routine
Nothing is as important as sleep. Workouts get glamorized in the hierarchy of what will make you successful in the gym. Even nutrition plays second fiddle on that front.
But I’d argue absolutely nothing is as critical to being motivated and successful in the gym as getting an adequate amount of sleep each night.
And those who are best at getting that required sleep are those who have an established bedtime routine.
They don’t binge watch Netflix late into the night. They don’t try to do last minute projects on their laptop before primetime tv. They don’t scroll through instagram or swipe left/right on Tinder while under the sheets.
Instead, they limit their exposure to blue light an hour or two before bed. They keep their sheets clean and beds made. And they eat a slow-digesting meal with limited fluids before brushing their teeth, (insert other relaxing hobbies here), and hitting the hay.
6. They Prioritize What Really Matters
Those who are truly successful in the gym are those that prioritize what really matters.
And I can already tell you’re sitting on the other end of this thinking, “workouts, nutrition, sleep. Got it!”
Prioritizing those things are great, but not exactly what I’m talking about here.
Instead, I’m talking about prioritizing what really matters. Your family. Your friends. Your pets. Your life.
All too often, people get overly consumed and obsessed with their fitness lifestyle. If you do this, you will fail.
Why? Because you’ll blame your family and friends for not achieving the results you feel you should have.
You’ll become a bear to be around.
Instead, practice that perspective mentioned earlier. Enjoy meals out with your friends. Enjoy family gatherings around holiday dinners. Eat a bowl of ice cream with your kid every now and then.
Enjoy life. And adopt a healthy lifestyle to lengthen it so you can enjoy more of those moments.
7. They Practice Patience
The most motivated and successful people of all gym-goers practice patience.
They realize this is a long-term investment of their time.
Too often we get caught up in the headlines of adding 15lbs of muscle in 8 weeks, losing 10lbs of fat in 30 days, etc. It doesn’t and shouldn’t work like that.
Yes, you want to be progressing. But you should progress slowly towards your goals and enjoy the process along the way.
Be patient. If you’re working, the results will come.
Developing the right habits in your life is a powerful way to set yourself up for success.
These 7 habits are the ones I’ve noticed every highly motivated and successful gym-goer I’ve met have:
- They set clear goals.
- They make small, sustainable changes at a time.
- They have fun with their workouts.
- They have perspective.
- They have a bedtime routine.
- They prioritize what really matters.
- They practice patience.
Any tips that have helped make you a successful and motivated gym-goer? Be sure to leave them (and any questions you may have) in the comments section below!