7 Secrets for Sticking to Your Walking Goal from Leslie Sansone

These small steps help you stick to even b-i-g goals

7 Secrets for Sticking to Your Walking Goal from Leslie Sansone

1. Make your goal doable. If you stick a 3-year-old on a two-wheeler and tell him to ride, he's going to fall off and refuse to get back on for a long time. Make your immediate goal something you know you can do -- if it's just a 10-minute walk, fine. Don't push yourself to the brink of exhaustion. Just do it, and aim to do slightly more every week. Eventually, you'll achieve goals that first seemed beyond you.

2. Get in your face. The best way to do something regularly is to have constant reminders to do it. Have walking shoes at home and at work. Put a chart on your fridge. Keep your goal in sight.

3. Seek out positive people. If your friends believe that exercise is a waste and are interested in only watching TV or going out for dessert, you're going to be forcing yourself to walk alone. Cultivate new friends, people who like being physically active, and suddenly walking every day gets much easier. Join an online community -- share success stories!

4. Put it in writing. You can have the best intentions in the world, but a funny thing happens as time passes. You don't want to walk one morning, and then at the end of that week, you've walked five times instead of six or seven, and you tell yourself that's still pretty good. Soon, three times a week is still pretty good, and you don't remember your goal of at least five walks a week. That's why it's vital to write down your goals.

5. Avoid temptation. Whatever your guiltiest habit is, get everything related to it as far from yourself as possible. If your goal is to be fit and eat less junk, the best favor you can do yourself is to clear your house of junk food. Removing temptation does make a difference.

6. Recognize negative thinking patterns. There are a million varieties, but they all come down to the same issue: not existing in the here and now. Things get complicated when your mind starts focusing on the past or future, not the present. Maybe you say, "When I've lost 100 pounds, I'll look good," or "If I had started this a year ago, I'd really see progress now." But these thoughts trick you into ignoring one reality: that anything you do happens one step at a time, starting today.

7. Aim for no slips for 4 weeks. Once you've established a pattern, you can slip now and then and it won't affect your overall success or motivation. But earlier slips interfere with forming a new habit. So for the first month, try extra hard to stick to your goals. If necessary, remind yourself that you will be allowed to deviate eventually. Sticking to something with no slips for 4 weeks is doable; doing it for life with no slips isn't.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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