I’m on week 10 of 12 week my workout plan, 4-5 days a week of lifting at the gym, for 30 – 60 minutes. This is the first plan I have ever done without skipping workouts or extending out the weeks and I am so proud! I’ve been doing a lot of introspection on why this time is different, and I have some takeaways that I know will help you achieve similar success.

We’ve all started an exercise plan before thinking that this time we’ll stick to it, and then we feel miserable when we don’t. I’m here to tell you that if you’re relying on pure “willpower,” not only are you going to have a hard time getting to your goal, but also it will not be enjoyable. There are better ways to ensure success:

1.  Small successes beget bigger ones

Motivation through negativity is the quickest way to fail. Posing pictures of people who have your “dream bod” or telling yourself that you need to workout because you don’t like your body may be motivating for a short time, but you can’t ride the negativity train for very long without losing steam and hating yourself along the way.  What’s more motivating? Meeting small goals and feeling good about them. Every time you meet a goal or see small improvements, you build positive momentum and want to keep going. When you start something new, keep your goals simple and manageable so that you can see results. For me, it was simply checking off the boxes on my workouts for the week and being able to see progress in the weight I was lifting from week to week.

2. Do something you actually like

This may seem obvious, but it’s a big deal. I like lifting and running, and I alternate between them depending on what I’m into at the time. Lifting weights makes me feel strong and confident and I think it’s fun to see how much weight I can do on a given day. If I didn’t enjoy it, there’s no way I would have gotten this far. This does not mean I am super pumped about getting to the gym every day that I go. I still have days where I’m not as into it, or I’m tired and just do the minimum to get it done. But for the most part, I like it enough to keep going. When you do something you like, it’s much easier to convince yourself to do it, even on days you’re not so motivated. And life is too short to spend hours a week doing something you totally hate.

3. Know what motivates YOU

This is the first workout plan where I had a physical book to write in and I learned something big about myself. I already knew that I enjoyed having a plan when I hit the gym so I don’t have to think about what to do or how long to stay. What I didn’t know was that I love keeping a physical record of the weights I’m using and seeing all of the check boxes in my own handwriting from week to week. Once I got a few weeks into the plan without missing a workout, there was no way I was going to have a week go by where I left boxes empty. It is super motivating and makes me feel accomplished. Again, feeling good about your progress means you’re more likely to keep going back for more. Keep in mind that everyone likes different things. Paper check boxes do it for me, but you may think it’s dumb to carry a book around and write things down between sets. Find out what YOU like and do it. And this may require trying several different things before you find something.

Willpower is not the way to results and you are not weak or lazy if you’ve been relying on it and feeling disappointed.  Skip “just do it” and build yourself up for success.

Curious about what my workout plan is? Right now I’m doing the “Get Jacked” plan from Girls Gone Strong. I highly recommend following them, and their founder Molly Galbraith.

Want to know why I became a health coach? Read my story.