Perception is reality: aim low when setting fitness goals

Perception matters. If two people jog for 20 minutes daily, and one's goal is to jog for an hour and the other's is 10 minutes, what's the difference? It's the perception of success versus failure. If you're trying to create new, healthy habits for yourself then it's important to "aim low," as Dr. Peterson puts it (see attached clip). Habits, by nature, are automatic, easy to perform, and as a consequence, require little motivation to engage in them. You're new habit is potentially none of these things, so setting the bar low increases the likelihood that you'll consistency execute it. If you refer back to the example I used, 10 minutes of jogging daily is obviously not going to have a deep impact on overall health, but if you live a sedentary lifestyle it's a much better start point than 60 minutes daily. You can still build on the original goal once it becomes rote. You can also have a broader, long-term goal in mind, but if you begin your journey with the end game in mind, you're setting yourself up for failure. 

This ties into my last post about habit formation. Remember that in order to form habits, you need motivation, ability, and a trigger (see graph from my last post). Motivation and ability influence one another reciprocally. Chances are if your ability is lacking with regards to the new habit, then your motivation to execute is low too. How do we combat this? By making sure the new habit is extremely easy. The key takeaway: aim low, perceive yourself as successful, and increase the likelihood that your new habit will stick.   

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