Many people struggle to stick with their health and wellness goals. Data shows that 92% of us abandon our goals at some point.
One big reason why sticking with goals is so difficult? It requires a certain level of mental discipline. This discipline is especially important when it comes to meeting health and wellness goals, which is what many goal-setters focus on. In fact, according to a Forbes Health survey, healthy lifestyle goals and forming healthy habits were some of the top goals for 2023.
If you’re among those goal-setters who wanted to focus on healthy habits, and you’ve already — or are close to — abandoning them, don’t worry. Failure isn’t inevitable. Here, we’re sharing coach-curated tips on how you can develop a positive mindset, stay motivated, and overcome obstacles, so you can achieve all your health and wellness goals.
Mental Discipline: The Key to Staying Motivated
If you have a problem sticking with your health goals and you don’t understand why that is, it could all come down to a lack of mental discipline. Maybe you’ve bought a gym membership, and you’ve been buying healthy foods at the grocery store, but you can’t seem to drive yourself to the gym or eat the foods you’ve planned to eat.
“Mental discipline is the ability to control your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a manner that supports your mission-driven goals,” explains holistic health coach Erica Walsh. “By strengthening mental discipline, you increase your focus, perseverance, and self-control, which limits or eliminates distractions and temptations, and helps you clear any hurdles that arise that could impede your success.”
So, it’s not just about what you do in achieving your goals. It’s also a lot about what you think.
“Most people associate achieving goals with action,” Walsh adds. “Yes, you do have to execute, but you have to possess a winning mentality before all else. Before anything comes to fruition, it all begins with a thought.”
5 Coach-Curated Tips to Strengthen Mental Discipline
If you’re looking to improve your mental discipline, Walsh has a few tips to help you do just that, so you can stick with your health goals and reap all the benefits.
1. Set Clear Goals
If you’ve read any of Arootah’s articles on habit forming and goal setting, then you may already know that clarity is oh-so-vital to goal-setting success. “Without a clear and specific goal, you won’t know where to point your focus,” says Walsh.
Rather than setting a goal like “getting healthier,” it’s important to specify so you know exactly how you plan on getting healthier. Setting vague, unclear goals won’t get you very far. You won’t know exactly what to do or what you’re measuring. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. A more specific goal would be to “engage in physical activity at least four to five times per week.” Once you have a specific, written goal, you can actively work toward it.
2. Establish Your Why
Without a good “why” behind achieving your goals, you’re more likely to abandon them. Think about it: If there’s no good reason to achieve your goals, why even bother when things get tough?
Walsh says the best “why” is usually someone or something else. It’s bigger and more important than just yourself. “For example,” she says, “you might be reducing processed foods in your diet and increasing physical activity so you can reduce your risk of disease and be there for your kids’ big life moments. The ‘why’ is your children.”
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3. Develop a Routine
By developing daily rituals, you can take the guesswork out of working towards your health goals. “When a process is automated, exercising, meditating, and healthy eating become a no-brainer rather than something you have to actively think about,” says Walsh. “You eliminate decision fatigue and will have the energy necessary to fully execute.”
4. Become Self-Aware
If you can become more aware of why you think and behave in certain ways, you can better prevent bad habits, change your patterns, and develop good habits. The more self-aware you can become, the more likely you are to resist goal-failing temptations and self-sabotaging behaviors.
5. Create a Mindfulness Practice
Lastly, Walsh suggests adopting a mindfulness practice, such as meditation, to help you manage stress and stay grounded as you strengthen your mental discipline.
“Meditating sharpens your focus as you pay attention to your breathing, get out of your head, and reduce stress, so you can direct your attention on what truly matters to you,” Walsh explains.
You can also incorporate visualization into your mindfulness practice, visualizing yourself having already achieved all your wellness goals. For example, if you can picture yourself living your healthiest, happiest life, feeling fulfilled in your lifestyle choices, regularly eating nutrient-dense foods, running a half-marathon, and living with more energy than ever, then you’re more likely to work harder to achieve those goals.
Otherwise, you may feel discouraged as you push yourself to work toward a vague goal that might not promise that same level of happiness and success.
The Bottom Line
Achieving health and wellness goals takes more than physical effort. It also requires mental discipline and a positive mindset.
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