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Stop Wishing, Start Doing

It's been lurking on your to-do list for what, a year, maybe longer? You know the one: "lose weight" or "quit smoking" or "start eating healthy." Perhaps you've made some hearty attempts at tackling your healthy-living goals, but after a few weeks of trying, you get bored, fall off the wagon or feel defeated. 

Following are some tips to help you squash those feelings of failure and attain and maintain healthy habits for life.

Act first. Don't wait to "feel" motivated to do something. Chances are, you may not, even if you think you will. Instead, start doing the thing you want to do and your motivation will kick into gear. 

Start small. Always keep in mind, small changes over time add up to big results. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, start with a 5K race. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, start with losing five. By breaking up big goals into little ones, you'll be able to celebrate your successes along the way, and your motivation will remain steady and strong.

Sign a contract. Sometimes, it's better to seek some outside motivation to help you succeed. An idea is to enter into a commitment contract with someone else who wants to achieve similar goals. There are websites where you can set up a behavior contract with a partner and if you fail to keep up with your goal, you have to pay money to that partner. Or, you can make a pact with a friend and shake hands on it – but you better pay out if you fail. Make it extra motivating by requiring your partner to donate the money to a charity you hate should you lose.  

Visualize it. Create a vision board filled with pictures of fit, sexy, healthy people and hang it in a highly visible spot. If you have some, include pics of you when you were fit and healthy! Then, when you feel discouraged, want to give up, or get the urge to cheat on your diet, just look at the vision board and get motivated.

Dress for success. You want to work out. You've even got the exercise class schedule tacked to your bulletin board. But you're still not going. Some new workout duds may be just the motivation you need to get your exercise routine happening.

Make a choice … every day. Everything we think, do, say and feel is the product of a choice. Based on that idea, staying motivated can hinge on one simple question: "Does this choice – thought, feeling, emotion or behavior – that I'm making or about to make, serve my growth, well-being and the greater good?" Honest answers bring intuitive guidance and with practice, making consistently good choices will become quite automatic.

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