Exercise and Physical Therapy


Research has shown that regular exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s disease.





  • reduces stiffness
  • improves mobility, posture, balance and gait

Aerobic exercise increases oxygen delivery and neurotransmitters to keep our heart, lungs, and nervous system healthy. General exercise may also reduce depression. Learning-based memory exercises can also help keep our memory sharp (Positscience, Lumosity).

Click on question below to jump ahead to a particular answer or scroll down to read each in order.

  1. What types of exercise are best for people with Parkinson’s disease?
  2. Is there any value in strength training?
  3. What about swimming?
  4. Will exercise make my muscles less stiff?
  5. When should I exercise in relation to medication?
  6. How often should I exercise?
  7. Is there anything else I should know?
  8. When should I request a referral for Physical Therapy?
  9. Are there techniques to help me walk?
  10. Are there hints to help me get out of bed?
  11. What is ‘forced use’ exercise?

What types of exercise are best for people with Parkinson’s disease?

There is increasing evidence that aerobic and learning-based exercises could be neuroprotective in aging individuals and those with neurodegenerative disease.  Facilitating exercise programs that challenge our heart and lungs as well as promote good biomechanics, good posture, trunk rotation and normal rhythmic, symmetric movements are the best.  Dancing to music may be particularly good for decreasing stiffness.

Although research on this subject is ongoing, it does appear that beyond aerobic activities performed with healthy movement patterns, exercises challenging the individual to change tempo, activity, or direction (what is referred to as “random practice” exercise) benefits people with Parkinson’s disease. It is also important to keep variety in exercise activities, because individuals with Parkinson’s disease often have difficulty in shifting from one activity to another or in performing two activities at the same time. Exercises that require balance and preparatory adjustment of the body are also important along with rhythmic activities such as dancing, skipping and cycling can maintain the ability to perform reciprocal movements.   Finally, exercises that promote attention and learning are beneficial.

Types of exercises that do this:

  • Walking outside or in a mall
  • Dancing
  • Yoga classes
  • Tai Chi classes
  • Stepping over obstacles
  • Marching to music with big arm swings
  • Sports (ping pong, golf, tennis, volleyball)
  • Aerobic/Jazzercise classes  

Types of exercises that promote cardiopulmonary fitness:

  • Paced walking (treadmill walking at different speeds and different inclines)
  • Hiking using walking sticks
  • Swimming with different strokes with the eyes open and closed (+)not only challenge motor learning but also increase heart rate and provide good cardiopulmonary conditioning.
  • New bodyweight-supported treadmills can also be helpful to protect from falling, and to facilitate easier coordinated movements for fast walking with a long stride or jogging.

Types of exercise that do NOT challenge motor planning:

  • Riding a stationary bicycle without doing other activities
  • Weight lifting
  • Treadmill walking at a slow speed
  • Lap swimming can be very habitual and also automatic.  

These exercises for cardiovascular, endurance and strengthening could be enriched by performing simultaneous activities such as reading, writing, problem solving, singing, watching the news or a movie or throwing and catching balls. Exercises that demand attention, repetition, progression of difficulty with spaced practice over time are the best exercise routines to promote learning.

You can purchase learning programs from Positscience and Lumosity. Currently, Dr. Dowling and Dr. Melnick in collaboration with Red Hills Studio are developing fun motor learning programs that can improve posture and balance. The Wii sports games and balance activities may be generally fun and helpful (Wii Study at UCSF).

Is there any value in strength training?

Weight lifting per se is NOT the best choice of an exercise program for the person with Parkinson’s disease, particularly if it is the only exercise activity.  Individuals need to be careful how they perform strengthening exercises to minimize increasing stiffness and rigidity. When performed properly, strengthening exercises do have some value.

As one ages, more exercise must be performed to maintain muscle mass.  Muscle mass and strength allow an individual to complete daily chores and to maintain balance.  Additionally, strengthening postural muscles may help to maintain a more upright posture. Integrative, functional exercises other than weight-training may strengthen muscles in ways that are more beneficial to individuals with Parkinson’s disease. 

Examples of alternative exercises to weight lifting:

  • Activities in a standing position strengthen legs
  • Pushing up to rise on the toes
  • Modified squats
  • Repetitively rising and sitting from a chair
  • Wearing ankle and wrist weights around the house or out on a walk
  • Push-ups or wall push-ups for arms

Light weights are just as effective as heavy weights in maintaining muscle tone and do not increase stiffness as much.  Walking with ankle and wrist weights can help strengthen while encouraging increased awareness of arm swinging and high stepping. Moderation is the best word for strength training without other forms of exercise.  However, integrating strengthening and flexibility exercises into aerobic, rhythmic and learning-based exercise routines that are fun, engaging, progressing in difficulty and rewarding are the best.

What about swimming?

Swimming provides good cardiopulmonary training and maintains muscle strength.  However, lap swimming does not challenge balance or stimulate variety of movements.  Therefore, lap swimming is a second-choice activity. However, since the arms, legs and head may be doing different things, it may increase coordination.  The resistance of the water increases stiffness in some people and decreases it in others. 

Activities to try:

  • Adding resistance with paddles and trunk support – provides more opportunity for reciprocal movements and circling movements of the arms and the legs
  • Rolling and somersaults – in the pool are good for those who are particularly comfortable in the water


For individuals with Parkinson’s disease who have difficulty in breathing, swimming may not be a comfortable aerobic activity. Thus, swimming may be an appropriate choice of exercise for individuals who have enjoyed it in the past and are comfortable with the techniques and those with musculoskeletal conditions particularly of the knee and back. Swimming using certain strokes can also help increase shoulder range of motion.

Will exercise make my muscles less stiff?

Exercises that require large, rhythmical movements through a full range of motion have been shown to decrease rigidity.  For example, in a program of aerobic exercise using music, there was a reduction in rigidity in 9 out of 10 participants immediately after the exercise program.

Exercises to decrease stiffness:

  • Large, rhythmical movements
  • Rotating the trunk
  • Vibration, rocking and swinging

Other considerations to decrease stiffness:

  • Avoiding tremors (e.g. touching the limb that is shaking to quiet the movement) can also decrease tension 
  • Decreasing stress in ones life – having fun, thinking positively about planning and carrying out challenging, socially engaging and learning-based activities
  • Cooling or warming the tense extremity can sometimes be helpful.

When should I exercise in relation to medication?

The best time to exercise is when mobility is best. For individuals who take medications for Parkinson’s disease, the best level of function often occurs about 1 hour after a dose of medications.  The answer to this question varies by individual. The individual reaction to the medication is also important.

How often should I exercise?

The guidelines for people with Parkinson’s disease are no different from those without the disease (i.e. 4-5 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes).  This assumes that your heart is beating at 70 to 80% of maximum (220 – your age times 70 or 80%). 

Make the exercise time fun:

Engage in group exercise, movement or dancing classes.  For many, participating in activities with other people, can be more stimulating and increase compliance.

Stay active and integrate exercise into your usual day:

  • Walk whenever possible instead of driving
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Take regular 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes (lifting the arms up over your head, performing wall glides, breathing diaphragmatically, getting up to get a glass of water, or putting theraband on chairs to work on some strengthening)
  • Avoid long periods of time watching TV and or using a computer

Is there anything else I should know?

A “cool-down period” is important.  After exercise, allow yourself a longer time for a cool-down than others would need (Individuals who exercised before developing Parkinson’s disease typically double their cool-down time). 

A cool-down period accomplishes 2 goals:

1)      Promotes a slow decrease in heart rate

2)      Allows the muscles time to cool down gradually so they do not become stiff. 

A cool-down period consists of the same exercise activity but at a progressively slower pace.  During the cool-down, all muscles need to go through a slow, full range of motion.  If you feel exhausted and want to fall asleep immediately after exercise, then you are not cooling down slowly enough.

Learn something new every day:   

If you listen to the news, talk to someone about it.  Listen to educational programs and discuss what you learned.  Do crossword puzzles or participate in memory training programs on the web or from a CD.

Challenge yourself to go out each day:      

If you are retired, consider volunteering your time to help others ( e.g. Red Cross, Meals on Wheels).  Move about in the community and learn the tricks of keeping your eyes on a target to improve stability. Carry a cane to let people know that it would be best not to bump you.

Practice writing:      

Learn to hold your pen lightly and write with big cursive type movements. Consider making the surface of your pen rough or sticky. This will help decrease the force of your squeezing the pen. Write by moving the whole arm, not just the fingers.  Practice writing to music and even say the words out loud as you write. Circle making big movements. Get a drawing pad from a toy store where your can lift up the writing surface and erase your practice strokes.

Exercise your voice:

Talk slowly, clearly and loudly with a lot of expression of your eyes and your face. Have everyone speak loudly and slowly. If you find you continue to talk softly and quickly and people are having difficulty understanding you, then ask a friend to read and record some passages from a book. Then you put the head set on and hear your friends voice as you read the same passages.  This may strengthen the learning.

When should I request a referral for Physical Therapy?

When first diagnosed, all patients should have a consultation with a physical therapist to define the appropriate exercise program tailored to “you”.  This will also establish a baseline of your current physical status. 

Ideally, all patients with PD should have a good fitness program as well as specific exercises to maintain good posture and balance as well as improve symmetry in flexibility and strength. Then, one may benefit from a consultation with a physical therapist when signs and symptoms increase the risk for falling or limit comfortable community mobility and confidence.  The therapist will also work on improving gait with practice using visual and auditory cues, as well as without those cues. 

As the disease progresses, periodic re-evaluations are helpful to assure your exercise program is having the maximum benefit.  A program of individualized exercises addressing posture, balance and gait has been shown to be beneficial in decreasing the risk of falling.  In some cases, where balance or musculoskeletal problems develop, supervised outpatient treatments a few times per week may be helpful for a few weeks.

Safe mobility may be enhanced by using a bodyweight supported treadmill to minimize discomfort, assure stability, decrease the fear of falling and facilitate normal movement. (Available with Dr. Nancy Byl‘s Neurofit program at UCSF Mission Bay)

In addition to physical exercise, it is important for everyone to maintain a high level of learning-based exercise activities to improve the ability to do multiple tasks simultaneously and safely without falling. The combination of learning-based memory training, aerobic exercise, over ground gait practice and integrative, engaging activities in the community are essential to positive health and well being despite aging or neurodegenerative disease.

Are there techniques to help me walk?

Often individuals with Parkinson’s disease have problems with abruptly halting or “freezing,” when walking.

To help decrease freezing, try:

  • Reciprocal arm swinging
  • High long steps
  • Scanning the environment and using visual fixation on an object in the distance or auditory cues (listening to music, singing to yourself, counting)
  • Thinking about making big steps to clear obstacles on the floor or marching (high steps)
  • Walking hand-in-hand, swinging the arms with a friend or family member
  • Having someone place their foot in front of you as a cue to step high and over
  • One person found that throwing pennies and stepping over them was helpful (“But,” he added, “don’t bend down to pick them up.”). 
  • Loud rhythmical clapping
  • Paced walking with high stepping. 
  • Using walking sticks (using them for sensory feedback and sense of stability may be more important than using a cane. Of course, using a cane or a walker can be helpful if there is a lot of weakness and stiffness.) 

Pushing one’s self to stay active should be the goal.

Are there hints to help me get out of bed?

For some people with Parkinson’s disease, getting out of bed may become difficult. First, you might practice rolling on your bed. Roll back and forth and get a rhythm. Then with some momentum, roll to your side and come to sitting. You might have a dresser near the side of your bed so you could touch the dresser for stability if you need to.

When specifically trying to come to sitting from lying in bed, roll over on your side. Push on your elbow and let your feet come over the edge of the bed and then sit up at the edge.  Sit there for a minute to adjust and then rise to stand and then walk.  This technique is not only easier but better for your back. 

Techniques to make it easier to move around in bed:

  • Wear satin pajamas or use satin sheets (but not both). 
  • Practice standing up and sitting down quickly from a chair without using your handsto improve your transitional movement skills
  • Practice getting up quickly from a chair and taking a few big steps and then turn around and go sit back down. 
  • Practice safe skills by climbing and descending stairs.  

If you are seeing a physical therapist, the last three bullets are some of the activities that should be practiced.

What is ‘forced use’ exercise?

Frequently patients with Parkinson’s disease have one limb or one side that is more involved.  It is easy to stop using the more involved side because it is too difficult.  This leads to overuse of the lesser affected side and neglect of the more affected side.  This disuse of the affected limb can lead to a worsening of the signs and symptoms. There is evidence that constraining the least affected side, and forcing the use of the more affected side can lead to improved function and increased “mindfulness” of the limb.

Forced use and constraining the least affected side has been effective in driving neural adaptation.  This has been demonstrated in animal studies with drug induced PD.  It has also been demonstrated in patients post-stroke.  This forced use can be enhanced not only by  physical practice, but mental practice as well. Each day, time should be spent on strengthening, range of motion, task performance and coordination exercises of the more involved limb.  Force yourself to do as many tasks as possible with the involved upper limb, using the other limb only to help stabilization.  In addition, do some drills like tap the fingers, tap the wrist and then tap the forearm moving from the elbow as fast as possible. You can also practice turning the palm up and down as fast as possible, throwing and catching balls, putting small objects in small containers, taking your index finger to quickly touch objects that are moving those that and still.  Do similar activities with the leg.

This principle of targeting specific task-oriented use of an extremity is similar to forcing yourself to exercise at an intense versus a low level. ‘Forced,’ in this context, means that you work harder than you would usually work.  In other words, in your general exercise routine, you want to work with a faster speed and potentially for a longer period to keep your nervous system and your cardiovascular system adaptable and responsive.  This will also allow your nervous system to respond more crisply when faced with unexpected and surprise events.  This will also facilitate better balance responses and improved postural alignment.

Copyright © 2012, The Regents of the University of California

Search form

Search Results

Make an Appointment to come see us!

View/Print as PDF

How often should someone take a rest day? « Invictus | Redefining Fitness

How often should someone take a rest day?


Coach Tino and Coach Nuno enjoying their rest day.

How often should someone take a rest day?

Written by Nuno Costa

If you have been doing CrossFit for a while now, you recognize that our program excels due to the high intensity component. With that being said, one thing we have to keep in mind is that we can’t sustain that high intensity every single day; otherwise our body ends up breaking down. So this begs the question of how often should someone take a rest day?

CrossFit.com follows a 3 on 1 off program, which means 3 days of doing the workouts and taking the following day to rest. Most athletes will need that day of rest in order to allow the muscle tissue to regrow and the body to recover from the training.

via How often should someone take a rest day? « Invictus | Redefining Fitness.

Why Taking Time Off From Exercise Is Good For Your Health

Posted: 04/04/2014 8:24 am EDT Updated: 04/04/2014 8:59 am EDT


By Daniel Duane for Men’s Journal

There’s nothing like a new season to get us fired up for sports again — bulking up for summer’s Tough Mudder, or sneaking over to the track for speed work while dreaming of a personal best in that half-marathon this fall. But years of research and experience have led to a surprising new consensus among trainers, coaches and athletes, best summed up as “Not so fast.” It turns out that one of the best things you can do for your next athletic ambition is to take some downtime and try something completely different -– mess around with new sports, keep workouts short and even skip the gym altogether when you’re not in the mood. “Just exercise when and if you feel like it,” says Joe Friel, author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible. “And do whatever you want to do -– go hiking with the family, rollerblading, skiing. Days off are definitely encouraged.”

Coaches have known this forever -– ordering track stars, quarterbacks, cyclists and basketball players to take a serious break after every season, to let the mind and body recover. More recently, exercise physiologists have identified potential markers of the cumulative fatigue caused by long-term training -– spikes in enzymes, for example, associated with inflammation and muscle damage. Jump back into working out too soon, before you shed all that built-up fatigue, and you virtually guarantee substandard performance later. That’s why so many NBA players head to beaches like Bora Bora and Tenerife every summer, and it’s also a big reason why Antonio Brown, a standout wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, dedicates his personal off-season to -– wait for it -– Pilates. But you don’t have to be a pro to need a break. Everyone benefits from easing up now and then, setting aside our gym and sports routines precisely so that we can return stronger than ever.

The Truth About Recovery Is That You Never Really Recover
To understand how this works, it helps to know a core truth about all athletic training: We don’t actually get fitter at the gym or on the road or in the pool. What we really do in hard workouts is apply a stimulus that elevates our heart rate, breaks down muscle fibers, causes the adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and generally tells our body that the status quo won’t cut it anymore.

The “getting fitter” part -– the body’s response to that stimulus -– comes afterward. While you eat and rest, the body gets to work repairing tissue damage, strengthening the heart and other muscles, restoring depleted fuel reserves and getting better at transporting oxygen throughout the body, making itself a little more efficient and stronger than before. Then we go out and do it again.

By training carefully and modestly -– stressing the body to stimulate change, and then letting it recover and adapt -– we stack up these little adaptations one on top of the other until, lo and behold, we find ourselves fit enough to run a marathon, lift a heavier weight, or play the best basketball of our adult lives. The problem is that we usually don’t completely recover between workouts. Some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training dedicated to our favorite sport. Even as we get fitter and fitter, the mechanisms of recovery and adaptation begin faltering, putting us at risk for chronic exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and loss of motivation, evidenced in part by declining testosterone levels and increases in creatine kinase and urea.

“Your body has only a certain bank account of adaptive energy,” says Alan Couzens, a cycling and triathlon coach with EnduranceCorner.com, based in Boulder, Colorado. “It will keep responding to training for only a certain period of time before that bank account goes into the red.”

Getting Rid Of Every Last Bit Of Fatigue
Runners, cyclists and triathletes typically aim to reach peak fitness about two weeks before a big event. Most training plans ease up at about that point, heading into the so-called “taper” period, getting an athlete ready to race. Research has shown that cumulative fatigue fades quickly for those first two weeks, while fitness fades very little, meaning that you can show up on race day still in great shape but far more rested, allowing for optimal performance.

If your sport happens to be surfing or racquetball -– or even just weight training at the gym -– you probably don’t have the luxury (or the burden, depending on your perspective) of structuring your training toward a few big events. But even if you take a rest day after every surf session, racquetball match or muscle group you train, you are still likely going to accumulate some fatigue.

When you need to shed 100 percent of this fatigue, two weeks of rest is usually not enough time to get you fully recovered. A 2005 study of Olympic swimmers, for example, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found fatigue markers still present in the rested athletes six months after the season’s end. Push hard again before your body is ready and you’ll carry some of that residual fatigue into the months ahead, raising the likelihood of breaking down early during your next big push.

The secret to optimal performance, therefore, is to take a break long enough to let all signs of fatigue disappear -– “It’s essentially a recharge point for those adaptive mechanisms,” says Couzens -– but not long enough to lose all of your current fitness. As for how long that break should be, it depends on how hard you’ve been working out, but one to two months is plenty for most nonprofessionals.

No matter your goals, it’s best not to train in one discipline for too long without a break. Research published as far back as 1997, in The Journal of Sports Sciences, suggests that sport-specific training done more than five months before competition has minimal effect on performance. Plus, the body can handle only so much repeated stress -– training and adapting, while accumulating fatigue. If you’re hoping to run a July marathon, for example, going out to crush anaerobic intervals six months before will only turn you into what Couzens calls a “February superstar,” impressing the competition too early in the year. “Rarely are those guys around when it counts,” says Couzens. Even if you play a single sport year-round -– basketball, squash, softball -– thinking in seasons is a good idea, with a four-to-five-month period of commitment followed by a month or two of going easy.

Make The Most Of Your Time Off
Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch -– you don’t want to fall completely out of shape, and you certainly don’t want to add pounds that will be hard to shed later. But steer clear of anything even remotely resembling a training plan, don’t consider lung-busting interval workouts, and, most of all, stay away from your primary sport. Instead, look for sports that either build up some attribute useful in your main sport or keep you in similar shape but with a different mental focus.

If you’re a cyclist or runner, for example, learn proper squat form and do a little winter strength training to fortify yourself against injury. If obstacle racing happens to be your thing, join a mixed-martial-arts gym for a couple of months, getting that same full-body experience but in a different format. And if you play basketball or tennis, dabble in mountain biking to keep the heart and lungs working, while giving the joints a break. Nick White, a senior coach with Carmichael Training Systems, considers self-deprivation to be the whole point: “Taking away that thing you love can really reinforce how much you love it, helping to bring back that motivation. Otherwise, training gets to feel like a job.” And if your wife tries one more time to get you into her Pilates group, remember Antonio Brown and have at it.

source :




More from Men’s Journal:
7 Secrets to Living Longer
8 Ways to Save Time
How to Stop Procrastinating

How to Properly Rest from Your Workout

 Printer-friendly version

How to Properly Rest from Your Workout

Getty Images

Rest days are an essential part of training. While they may seem like you’re slacking and make you worry that you won’t build strength or increase speed or lose weight, time off allows your body and mind to fully recover and grow.

Think about how you feel after a poor night’s rest: Your cognitive skills are fuzzy and your body starts to fall into a catabolic (breaking down) state, which can skyrocket stress, sap muscle strength, and cause mood shifts.

The same fatigue happens on the body when you don’t allow it to recover from high-intensity exercise. Never taking a day off sets the body up for a breakdown. You become more susceptible to severe muscle soreness, a suppressed immune system, improper sleep, a decrease in strength and performance, and injury. Rest days also benefit your mind: Scheduling a mandatory break from training will help you get excited to jump back into your program.

How Often Should I Rest?
If you are starting out with a new exercise program or are a beginner exerciser, rest every third day (that is, exercise two consecutive days and rest the third). More experienced exercisers should remain inactive or take an active recovery day once a week. In addition, every eight weeks include a week where you de-train, or decrease your training load.

RELATED: The Active Recovery Workout

What Constitutes “Rest”?
How inactive you are on your rest day depends on the intensity of your workouts leading up to it. For example, if you are killing it in the gym day in and day out, your rest day should be a day completely off from taxing your body. You might go for a casual walk at most, but no great effort to do more physical work than necessary should be made (read: no gym!). However, if your workouts have been light to moderate intensity all week or you’re a beginner exerciser, you can take a more active recovery day. That might include playing a sport outside, taking a yoga class, or going for a longer walk.

During your de-training week every eight weeks, decrease the intensity on your training load and incorporate more stretches into your program.

And don’t forget that any activity you do on your rest day should also help your mind take a break. Whether that’s yoga, a walk in the park, or taking the dog out with your spouse, do whatever clears your head and stops you from thinking about counting reps or reaching your goal. You’ll be ready to get back in the gym once you’ve had your time off.

source :




CrossFit athlete Rich Froning is world’s fittest man

THE world’s fittest man is not a boxer, cyclist or a marathon runner. He doesn’t play professional sport of any kind, and you’ve likely never heard of him.

He also eats too much peanut butter and drinks a whole lot of milk.

The world’s fittest man is Rich Froning and this week he’s putting his title on the line.

Froning is a professional CrossFit athlete. CrossFit is an exercise program which is a mixture of aerobic fitness and weight lifting. It is practised in more than 6000 gyms worldwide and the fad has well and truly caught on here, with CrossFit taking off in larger Australian cities.

CrossFit Workouts are short and intense and has a jargon all to itself.

For example, gyms aren’t gyms. They’re “boxes”. Workouts aren’t workouts. They’re WODs (Workout of the Day). The acronym is a reference to the fact that the workout always changes. Indeed, participants often don’t know what they’re in for when they turn up.

via CrossFit athlete Rich Froning is world’s fittest man.

Why Thinking Small Is The Secret To Big Success


 “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” – Brian Tracy

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTMaI-7lEbIGnYPFNPPUVVsBnrPa56sddv5IaoM8lfbmDXOc4j6sAIn a perfect world, reaching the halfway point of 2012  would mean that we were halfway through our 2012 goals, right?

But what about if you’re someone who constantly struggles with achieving your goals? Do you know what’s standing in your way?

Do you think your goals are just too big to accomplish?

Do you feel you have bad luck?

Or is it that you just didn’t “want it” bad enough?

I highly doubt it’s any of these.  In fact, I would argue that thehttp://findingnewchallenges.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/an-imperfect-workout.jpg?w=300&h=226 greatest problem that’s been preventing you from accomplishing your biggest goals is that you’re not thinking small enough.

Yes, you read it correctly: You aren’t thinking SMALL enough.

Goal Setting 101

When it comes to setting goals, there’s no shortage of books, blueprints, gurus and seminars that offer guaranteed results for making your wildest dreams come true.

While the names of the programs may change, they typically follow the same path and process below.

1.     Decide what you want
2.     Proclaim your dream to your friends and family
3.     Set a deadline
4.     Break down the goal into smaller steps
5.     Identify someone who’s accomplished a similar goal and model their attitude and belief system
6.     Believe it’s possible
7.     Take massive action
8.     Repeat steps 6 & 7 every day

Now there’s nothing wrong with these steps – the steps https://i1.wp.com/befitwithkristen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/photo-5-300x210.jpgwork.  The problem lies in believing that the goals we set are even possible.

Belief is like a muscle; unless it’s developed it remains weak, small and basically useless.

So when we set large goals, we are requiring ourselves to also have an equally large belief system to support it.  It doesn’t matter how much we “want it” or how much we “proclaim it” – all that matters is how much we BELIEVE it.  It’s this true belief that affects all of our actions.

Big Goals + Small Belief =

1.     We set a BIG goal (usually the same goal we’ve been promising ourselves for years)
2.     We tell ourselves “I just need to get more motivated” or “I’ve really got to want it this time”
3.     We map out what we need to do
4.     We take a couple steps…
5.     Then SPLAT! We face our first trial or miss our first deadline and spiral off course
Without fail, circumstances seem to pop up out of nowhere.  Friends call us with last minute plans, we end up splurging on that late night ice cream, our computer crashes or we find ourselves struggling to keep up with the weekly set of to-do’s we’ve set up for ourselves.  This of course leads to guilt, which then shifts to the feeling that it’s a “sign” of some sort – that it’s “not the right time” or “I’ll start again next Monday”.

Unfortunately this kind of thinking can quickly turn a passionate and motivated person into a disillusioned goal setter who finds his or herself setting the same goals year after year, but only producing more disappointment.

So what’s the solution?

Start thinking small!

The Power of thinking SMALL

https://i2.wp.com/thepeopleproject.com/content/artworks/quotes/quotes/Lee_Haney_-_Exercise.jpgI began this article with the promise of offering a small solution for a big problem.

We discussed how the traditional method for goal setting works, but is limited by the size of belief someone has in accomplishing that goal.  So with that in mind I’ve come up with following solution.

Start with a small goal.  I’m talking SUPER small.

This is completely different than breaking a goal down into smaller pieces – I’m asking you to make a small goal.

·      If your goal is to “lose 50 lbs”- turn it into “eat one healthy breakfast this week.”
·      If your goal is to “start a business” – change it to “interview one business owner.”

Once again, I’m not asking you to break your large goal into small steps – I’m asking you to make a smaller goal.  It doesn’t even matter if they’re unrelated to your big goal or dream – just start knocking down goals.

https://i0.wp.com/www.quotehd.com/imagequotes/authors77/tmb/denis-waitley-writer-quote-dont-be-a-time-manager-be-a-priority.jpgThe reasoning behind this is quite simple.  You need momentum, and nothing builds momentum like getting a few wins under your belt.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about thinking big and having big dreams, but I also understand the need for momentum and confidence.  Accomplishing a goal is a lot better than taking a step, especially for someone who has not been in business of large goal setting and achieving.

The purpose of these smaller goals is not to get you closer to your goal, but to develop the skill of belief.  The belief that you can accomplish goals – not steps.
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.

Six months prior to hosting my first Webinar in 2009, I set a goal to deliver ONE good  speech in front of an audience without trembling behind a podium (my first year of public speaking was terrifying for me!).  My goal was not to start a 7-figure business.

With that goal in mind I joined Toastmasters in order to get comfortable speaking in front of people.  I cringe when I think of those first few speeches, but by the time I got to my 10th speech I received my first standing ovation.  That was the “win” that gave me the momentum and confidence to begin teaching the LinkedIn strategies I already knew.

Goal Setting 101 (Revised)

So here’s how the amended goal setting path should look.

1.     Review all of the goals you’ve set in the past, but did not accomplish.
2.     Identify ONE goal from that list that you’d still like to accomplish
3.     Boil it down to a smaller goal – one that you can accomplish in 3-7 days
4.     Take action and complete it.
5.     Pick another small goal
6.     Get it done
7.     Do this until you’ve got 3-5 completed goals under your belt.  Each of which are a little bigger than the one before it.
8.     Go after your big goal

It’s much easier to start moving up a large hill with momentum and the same goes for achieving large goals.

Also remember that true motivation is the result of momentum – it’s a gift.  You don’t have to spend money to get motivated, you simply need to get moving.

Keep this one SMALL fact in mind

Remember, I didn’t set out to start a 7-figure business.  I simply began doing something to make a few hundred bucks and pay my rent.

That “something” then turned into something else, which then began to gather momentum and then grew into the business I now have today.

I do have BIG goals for my business and life, but that’s only because I’ve got the momentum that gives me the confidence that I can reach them.

Whatever your big dreams or goals are, I challenge you to put them aside for one moment.  Go out there and get a few wins under your belt, then take that momentum and go make it happen.

Lewis Howes is the author of The Ultimate Webinar Marketing Guide and LinkedWorking.   Learn more about how to grow your business through online marketing strategies by signing up for his newsletter at www.lewishowes.com.










The Secret to Achieving Resolutions: Setting Small Goals


Jan 1, 2014 by Rohit Arora In Small Business Operations 12


The New Year provides an opportunity to start with a fresh, clean slate. However, more than nine out of 10 Americans (92%) will not to keep their resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, or find romance. It can be the same with the goals small business owners set for themselves to grow revenues or become more profitable.

The number one reason why New Year’s resolutions fail isn’t feasibility or a lack of motivation.

The number one reason resolutions fail is all about time.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the goals you set for yourself in the course of the next year.https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTq8DudD7pr3xMa5Agf6LCfA09MmQwJGkxbU30jtT-Z_xPt7nRUpw

Procrastination is a significant part of the problem. At the beginning of the year, people rationalize “I have over half a year left to do what I said I’d do.” And when the summer months roll around, there is still enough time left in the year that you might not feel a real sense of urgency.

Before you know it, the holidays roll around again, and yet the resolution has not been accomplished.

Set Achievable Goals

https://i1.wp.com/geniusquotes.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/An-imperfect-workout.jpg“For many people, this depressing chain of events recycles on a yearly basis because far-away deadlines allow us to be slack on execution. Give yourself too much time and you will procrastinate. It’s human nature,” write Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, co-authors of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months,

Instead, Moran and Lennington advocate setting realistic deadlines that will be better motivators to take action. “Success is all of the little things you do throughout the year to make your goals happen,” they explain.

I always advise taking a look at smaller chunks of time when setting goals for a small business. One can compare January to the previous month of December or to January a year ago to gauge what direction the company is heading.

Setting a goal of 50 percent growth in a year is noble, but it can be daunting. A smarter way is to plan smaller, more manageable and less overwhelming growth rates for each month of the year. By the time next December rolls around, the overall increase for the year may indeed be closer to the target.

Every day should be filled with important, attainable goals. For example, one goal could be as simple as committing to reaching out to one new prospect each work day. Over the course of the year, this could add up to over 200 contacts. Even with a modest success rate of 2%, you could find yourself with four new accounts over the course of the year. If one or two of them are substantial new clients, you may indeed hit projected growth targets.

Achieve Little Victories For Big Results

By setting  attainable goals and achieving little victories on a weekly basis, the outlook will seem brighter. And, as a result, your commitment to growth will grow throughout the year.

In business, as in life, unexpected occurrences can put things out of whack. Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, set back thousands of small businesses. In 2013, the government shutdown had an unanticipated devastating effect on companies that directly and indirectly rely on federal spending. Machines break down. Key employees leave. New competition arrives in the marketplace. The key is to establish good habits and to have systems in place to spur business growth despite outside influences.

Little things that mean a lot over the course of the year include:

  • Committing to contacting a set number of potential clients each week, setting appointments when possible, and keeping them on a regular basis.
  • Improving your record keeping so that you can monitor what’s happening in your business and subsequently implement changes where needed.
  • Paying bills in full and on time in order to increase credit scores in case you need an infusion of working capital or seek to expand.
  • Keeping abreast of changes in technology and making upgrades in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Smaller, monthly improvements will add up during the year. Committing to certain tasks and maintaining that commitment will manifest in greater overall performance.

Do not set yourself up for failure like the people who aspire to drop 20 pounds or drop two dress sizes and then become depressed and discouraged when it doesn’t happen within two months. The successful individuals will make it a point to drop one or two pounds a week over the course of 10-12 weeks.

Set achievable goals, over small periods of time.  They will be easier to reach, and as you reach each goal you will feel motivated because of your small successes.

Continually reaching small achievable goals is the key to long-term success — this year and every year.

Achievable photo via Shutterstock


The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers



By Leo Babauta

How do you form the exercise habit — really make it stick?

Take the first step.

Then take another. Make each step so important that you can’t miss it. And enjoy each step.

That’s my method, honed from eight years of forming the exercise habit. It works, for me.

But everyone has a different method, and it’s inspiring and massively useful to learn from others who’ve successfully created the habit themselves.

Today, we’ll look at a great list of those methods, submitted by folks on Twitter who have overcome the odds and successfully formed the exercise habit.

First, thank you, to everyone who submitted their successful methods. It was more than I’d hoped for, and incredibly powerful reinforcement of what works. But there were so many submissions that I had to whittle it down, tossing out good ideas and picking others that I thought were more universally applicable. Many of the ones listed here were echoed many times over in the submissions.

Let’s dive in!

I asked people who had successfully created the exercise habit — what worked for them? They answered (note – ones without a name after them were submitted anonymously):

  1. Stop looking at it as a habit and instead as a lifestyle and an important part of my self-care. ~Lara Rininger
  2. Work out first thing in the morning. You get it out of the way and it provides you with an abundance of energy for the rest of the day. ~Jen Zeman
  3. Crank up your favorite music! I often see suggested play lists for workouts, but just listen to what excites you. It will get you moving. ~Jen Zeman
  4. When I started running I started out at .5 miles and increased in .25 increments (I usually average 4 mile runs). It didn’t happen overnight – give your lungs and muscles time to adjust. Same with weight training – start light and build your way up. Results will start to show in about 3-4 weeks. ~Jen Zeman
  5. Making it my #1 priority and doing it first thing in the morning.
  6. 30 day yoga challenges for myself that I then give updates on my Blog. Accountability. ~Kira Elliott
  7. If I workout in the morning, before my day starts, I “earn: chocolate/beer/carb later in the day. Otherwise, no treats for me!
  8. No excuses. I never miss more than 2 days. You have to insist on it and protect it.
  9. Also: just put your workout clothes on. Once you do that it feels silly not to start. Just commit to 10 minutes. You will probably do more.
  10. Also: no one ever regrets working out. Is there anything else in the world you can do, and know 100% you won’t regret it?
  11. This is the one that’s helped the most: I’ve made a point to really, really, REALLY notice how much better I feel now that I exercise regularly; I’m sleeping better, my mood is better, I’m much less sluggish. It took about 3-4 weeks to see it, but it’s helped a lot. ~Polly
  12. Make it a habit, don’t rely on motivating yourself to workout, consciously think of it as just something you do after ‘x’. This was a huge aha moment for me. ~Mark Feinholz
  13. On that note, do it in the morning, habits are much easier to establish in the morning. the triggers are much more dependable (finish cup of coffee – put on gym shorts). Morning triggers are always there and the day has not polluted your plans yet.
  14. A daily morning ritual to mark the beginning of training. In my case, tying up my bandana on my head meant ‘It’s running time’. ~Alfonso Acosta
  15. I started running consistently the month before I got divorced. In theory it was the lowest part of my life — but I’d never felt better. I couldn’t get over that. I was sold on exercise, though it took me a while to make running the nonnegotiable part of my schedule it is now. After I got married again and when our daughter was a baby I used to run at the high school track near our house. I’d pretend the bleachers were filled with people cheering me on. “Good job!” I imagined them hollering. “Way to go!” And, “It’s great you’re leaving the baby with Dad for a while on this beautiful summer evening to do something nice for yourself.” Well, nice — and hell. It was hell. I wasn’t in shape, I didn’t want to miss a second with our new baby, and that was that. The pretend cheerleaders must’ve helped. Certainly they didn’t hurt. Because eventually, through a series of learning and unlearning and relearning the importance of exercising, it’s what I do. No discussion. No bargaining out of workouts unless I’ve made them up in advance. It’s soothing, really. There are no decisions to be made about exercise. I just do it. To the extent anything else good happens, I attribute it to this: running is magic. ~Maureen Anderson
  16. Fixed a time of the day that HAS to be the workout time. Cleared away tasks around that time to make sure I don’t get stuck with something else. ~Elle Kaiye
  17. Mentally preparing myself during the day for the evening workout helped.Mental preparation was important to prevent talking myself out of workout on the pretext of being “”exhausted”” or having “”more important stuff to do””. ~Elle Kaiye
  18. Sometimes even looking at the pictures of Victoria’s Secret Angels helped 😉 ~Elle Kaiye
  19. I don’t have a workout buddy now but that had helped me to stay on track in the past. Support from my Mom helped me a lot! ~Elle Kaiye
  20. Doing a sport that you love and try new types of exercise/sports. ~Chris B.
  21. Do it a few days in a row, you – your body and mind- will get used to it. ~Chris B.
  22. Enter a race or contest. ~Chris B.
  23. I had to stop setting goals – as is advised by pretty much every source out there! I just got discouraged that I wasn’t moving as fast as the ‘programme’, or that I still felt no closer to running a marathon I seriously didn’t want to.
    >What works instead: feeling great about just turning up. I do what I feel able to when I’m there, and if it’s not much or not as much as last time – fine. I showed up. I get to say “I went to the gym” which impresses on its own, without me detailing what I did! ~Sarah
  24. A lot of people take days off when they’re exercising, which I think is great and important for your body to recover. However, I’ve found the habit of going to the gym (or wherever you go to workout) is important for me to do EVERY DAY. I run and do some strength training most days, but when it’s time for a recovery day I still go to the gym- to play racquetball, take an easy walk, shoot a few baskets, whatever. ~Dave Hall
  25. What worked for me was strong commitment to myself that I do exercise on these days on this time NO MATTER WHAT. I do not accept situations I wouldn’t exercise on my planned day if for example I felt tired, or couples of friends invited me for a meeting, or it was raining (running is essential part of my routine) or anything else. These are all small excuses that we have to actually struggle with. They are too small to prevent us from fulfilling the plan. I only omit my exercise session if I’m on vacation or if I’m seriously ill. In other cases there is no way to break the habit. ~Przemyslaw
  26. Don’t think about it, just do it. Even though I’ve consistently worked for over 15 years, it doesn’t mean I don’t have days that I just don’t feel like working out. I do have those days, but I push through it and do the work out anyway. ~Caroline
  27. Schedule time for exercise and keeping to it like you would any other appointment or meeting. ~Katie
  28. First I picked some awesome skills I wanted do be able to do from this website for motivation. While working towards them I basically only had a single goal: Do at least a single exercise every day, one pushup, pullup, sit up, … If I didn’t feel like it, wouldn’t do more, just a single one. Now I’m can do one armed pushups, one legged squads, l-seats and quite a few pullups. What also probably helped was that I didn’t need a single piece of equipment. ~Michael
  29. I exercise every single day. Every. Single. Day. That’s my secret. I don’t give myself the choice of whether to exercise or not. Every time that you give yourself a choice, you give yourself the opportunity to decide not to do something. ~Mark Cancellieri
  30. Sleep in my exercise gear (makes me feel mentally ready for action the next day). ~Ruth Seatter
  31. Plan to exercise with a friend (running or gym class etc). $20 wager if you don’t make it. ~Ruth Seatter
  32. Make it into a game or do it as a social activity with a friend. the more enjoyable it is the likelier you are to continue it. ~Matthew
  33. Accountability. I am a very lazy person and I hate being answerable to people. I like to do things at my pace which is why I never stick to anything for long. But this time when it came to eating healthy and losing weight, I made myself answerable and accountable to my cook! I asked my cook to keep a check on what I eat and not offer me any junk or fried. So each time I entered to kitchen to grab some snacks, I saw him standing there and to avoid answering to his questions, I would step out with eating. This worked for me and now I am used to ‘not’ eating when I am not hungry. ~Surabhi Surendra
  34. Focus on effort: Set yourself goals around effort, not around results. ~Chiranth
  35. Don’t let weather deter you. Once you do one or two runs in the rain you’ll see that they are liberating. ~Patty
  36. I started very small. Starting small cancelled any excuse not to practice daily. I have refrained from overdoing in the first two weeks. This left me more energy to become more stable in practicing daily. I have committed with my girlfriend on a feasible outcome in a medium term, like being fit for our summer vacations. After some weeks the reason of my motivation shifted from being willing to satisfy the external source (girlfriend’s expectations) to being more confident and happy with myself. Starting one single habit is giving me the confidence to change other habits and the clarity to identify which other habits do I want to develop. ~Niccolo’ Stamboglis
  37. No more than 1 day off in a row. Find an exercise you really enjoy (I love lifting weights!). Try new types of exercise. You will be tired when beginning a new exercise program so eat well to fuel exercise and get enough sleep. Religiously stick with it for the first two weeks, then you will begin to notice an improvement in your energy levels that is very motivating. ~Patty
  38. I joined a sports team (soccer), which is a fun way to exercise and ride my bike to work daily. This way I am physically active without really realizing it. I lack motivation to do exercises on my own. I almost need a team or coach or class to do well. (i.e. if I go to the gym solo, I get less results than if I joined a class). ~Bradlinn



Discipline is an illusion; Motivate yourself instead


Post written by Leo Babauta.

Reader Kamal posted a great question in response to my call for topic suggestions:

“I think discipline would be a good topic, as much of what you talk about requires a certain amount of it.

The Army was good for teaching me discipline, but I realized that in the end, it comes from within.

But still, like most things, it is a habit that one can work on over time.

Would love to hear your thoughts and experience on the subject.”

Let me start with the conclusion first: if you think you don’t have discipline, you don’t need it. What you need is to commit to your goal or habit and fully motivate yourself. Read on for more.

I think that most of us believe that discipline is something you either have or don’t have — some believe you are born with it, and some, like Kamal, believe it is something you can develop as a habit. But what exactly is it we’re talking about when we say the word “discipline”?

If I wake up early every morning to run, do I have discipline? Most people would say that I do. But, as someone who regularly wakes up early, and who runs frequently (not every day), I can testify that I for one do not have discipline. I am anything but disciplined, and never have been.

So how do I explain my ability to wake up early, and to run on a regular basis? Simple: I have adequate and varied motivation. I get up every morning, not out of discipline, but because I really want to — and have tricked myself into doing it. I get out the door and go for a run not because I’m super disciplined, but because I really want to.

Let’s take the example of someone in the military — the typical example of someone with discipline. Let’s say Sgt. Lamar is a tough Army man. He wakes up very early every day, goes through a strict morning routine, runs and does his pushups and situps, eats a moderate diet and keeps his clothes and living area spotless. He’s the epitome of discipline.

But I say he has motivation instead. Review the Top 20 Motivation Hacks for some of the reasons why:

  • Sgt. Lamar has signed up for the Army and all that that entails. He is a full-time military man, and everyone he knows is aware of this. He has fully committed himself to living a life of discipline, meaning he’s fully committed to all the habits of the Army: waking early, exercise, cleanliness, orderliness, etc. That’s the No. 2 of the Top 20 Hacks.
  • He’s in the middle of a mutually supportive competition. There is competition among his fellow officers about who has more discipline (wakes earlier, runs more, etc.) — Hack No. 3.
  • Sgt. Lamar has powerful reasons (Hack No. 8) to keep those habits going — to keep up his reputation in the Army, to promote his advancement in the organization, to set an example for those under him.
  • There are many more, but let me quickly point out others: there’s a system of accountability, public pressure, others above him who he must report to, rewards for sticking to the habits, the pleasure of accomplishing his goals and habits, workout buddies, visualization of his goals (even if he doesn’t realize it, Sgt. Lamar has a picture of what an Army man should be, and keeps that in his head each day). And then there’s positive thinking (Hack No. 1) — Sgt. Lamar doesn’t allow himself to think negatively, or to tell himself he can’t do it. He has no choice. If he does start thinking negative thoughts, he will soon be former Sgt. Lamar.

If you removed all of these motivations — the public pressure, the rewards, the positive thinking, the powerful reasons, the accountability, the full commitment, the mutually supportive competition — I believe that Sgt. Lamar would have no discipline.

Now, some people will think, “But Sgt. Lamar was disciplined even after he was in the Army. He’s still the most disciplined person I know, as a former military man.” That may be true (it’s not true in every case), but I would argue that he has maintained his habits from many of the same motivations — he is still committed, to everyone he knows, to being a disciplined former military man, and he has this public reputation to maintain. He probably also still finds pleasure in being an early riser, in exercising and staying fit, in looking clean and being orderly. I also argue that those who do not have those same motivations are those who are former military men who aren’t disciplined — and we all know just as many of this type as the former.

So how can you be “disciplined” about your habits? Get the right motivation (See the Top 20- Motivation Hacks for more). Here are a few tips:

  1. Pick one habit, and fully commit to it. Don’t try to be “disciplined” for a whole lot of things at once. I’ve tried this (many times) and it always fails. I’m re-evaluating my goals for this year for that reason alone. Try one habit at a time, and really focus on it.
  2. Come up with a plan for that habit. See how many of the Top 20 Motivation Hacks you can apply to this habit. Write down your goal, and set a measurable and achievable goal, with a deadline. Write down mini-goals along the way, with rewards for each. Write down a plan for monitoring your urges to quit the habit, and for how you will overcome those urges (write it down beforehand!).
  3. Maintain your focus on that habit for as long as possible. Try not to get distracted from it by other things. Post up pictures, motivational quotes, your plan, a list of rewards, your list of reasons, etc. Send yourself email reminders. Get others to remind you of your focus. Blog about it. Whatever it takes.
  4. Set up your environment so that you maintain your motivation for your habit over time. Look at the example of Sgt. Lamar above. His life is set up so that he can’t fail. Set you life up like that too, with motivation all around you, in many forms. Set it up so that that motivation continues for as long as possible, not just for a couple weeks or a month. Maintain that environment of motivation.
  5. Celebrate your success!!! Woo hoo!!!!


7 Discipline-Mastering Practices

By Leo Babauta

A craftsman masters his trade by repeated practice, with care and continual learning, with devotion to the purpose. It takes the same kinds of things to master the craft of discipline:

  • Repeated practice
  • Single-minded devotion to the purpose
  • Continual learning
  • Care

I’ve been giving some thought to what it takes to master the craft of discipline, and have been following some practices that I’ve found extremely useful:

  1. Do the task even when I’m not in the mood. Procrastination is such a common problem that I believe it to be universal. The main reason we procrastinate, without admitting it to ourselves, is, “I’m not in the mood to do this.” The task is probably difficult or confusing, and so it’s uncomfortable, and you’d rather go to things that are easier, that you’re good at. You’d rather clean your house or trim your nails or check your email than start writing the next chapter of your book. But if we wait until we’re in the mood, we’ll never master life. Instead, practice this: set yourself to do a task, and start doing it, no matter what. Don’t let yourself check email, or social media, or go clean something, or do a quick chore or errand. Sit down, and do it. It will be uncomfortable. You can still do it even if it’s uncomfortable.
  2. Exercise even when you really don’t want to. Yes, this is the same thing as procrastinating — we put off exercise for many reason, usually because it’s hard and we’d rather do something easier. But I look at it as something I need to do to take care of myself, like eating healthy food and brushing my teeth. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth for a week, would you? Your teeth would rot. Similarly, skipping exercise for a week rots your body. Instead, practice this: tell yourself you’re going to do a workout/run at a certain time, and then show up. Do it even if you’re tired or feeling lazy. Ignore the lazy feeling, the distractedness, and suck it up. You’ll find that you feel great for having done it. Either way, you’ll start to master doing things that are uncomfortable.
  3. Sit with a little hunger. We tend to panic when we get hungry, and run for the nearest junk food. What I’ve learned is that you can be hungry and it’s not the end of the world. We don’t always need to be stuff and satisfied with crazy delicious food. Instead, practice this: don’t eat if you’re not hungry. When you get hungry, sit there for a moment and turn to the hunger, and see how it really feels. It’s not so bad. This practice isn’t to make you starve yourself (not great), but to show you that a little discomfort won’t ruin your life, and that you can make conscious choices about when and how much to eat.
  4. Talk to someone about something uncomfortable. We avoid difficult conversations, because they’re not fun. They’re scary, uncomfortable. But that leads to all kinds of problems, including resentment, a worse relationship, worsening of the situation, and more. Instead, practice this: When you have a problem with someone, instead of replaying the problem in your head, talk to the person in a gentle, compassionate way. Try to see the situation from their point of view, not just yours. Bring it up with a simple, “Hey, can we talk about ___?” And tell them how you feel, without accusing them or making them feel defensive. Ask them how they feel about it. Approach it with the attitude of finding a solution that works for both of you, that preserves your relationship. What you learn from this is that pushing through this uncomfortable situation will resolve a lot of difficult problems.
  5. Stick to a habit. One of the hardest things people face with changing a habit is sticking with a habit after their initial enthusiasm dies down. It’s easy to do a habit for a week — but what about pushing through the second and third weeks? It gets a lot easier after those weeks, but a lot of people drop the habit too early. Instead, do this: Commit to one small habit for two months. Make it just 5 minutes a day, and do it at the same time each day, having as many reminders set up as possible so you don’t forget. Track the habit on a calendar or log, so you see your progress. Show up every day and do it. You’ll start to master the formation of new habits, which will open up all kinds of changes.
  6. Turn toward the problem. When we have a problem, often we avoid even thinking about it. Think about whether you have one of these problems: you’ve been avoiding exercise, you’re overweight, you’ve been avoiding a major project, you put off dealing with your finances, you’re unhappy about some situation in your life. Often these are uncomfortable situations, and we’d rather not face them. Instead, practice this: See the obstacle as the path. Don’t avoid the obstacle (the difficult situation, the problem you fear), don’t go around it, don’t ignore it. Turn toward it. See it. Acknowledge it. Figure out what’s going on. Find out how to navigate within the problem. You’ll find that it’s not easy, but not as bad as you thought, and you’ll be happy you did it. And more importantly: you’ll get stronger from facing the problem.
  7. See the good in the activity. Discipline is really learning that you don’t need some incredible reward — there’s inherent good in just doing the activity. For example, if you’re going to eat healthy food, you don’t need to make it taste like your favorite dessert or fried food (rewarding food) — you can just enjoy the activity of eating fresh, healthy food. If you’re going to exercise, it doesn’t need to give you a flat stomach or nice arms — you can just enjoy the activity. Practice this: No matter what the activity, find the good in doing it, and the activity becomes the reward.
  8. Meditate. People think meditation is difficult or mystical, but it’s fairly simple. Practice this: Take 2 minutes to sit still, and focus on your breath, noticing when your mind wanders and gently returning to the breath. There are lots of other ways to meditate, but this is the simplest, and it shows you how to watch the urges that come up, and see that you don’t need to act on those urges.

You might not be good at these at first, but that’s why you practice. You’ll learn, through these practices, to get good at discomfort, to show up even when you don’t feel like it, to stick to something even when the enthusiasm wanes, to not act on your urges right away, to enjoy any activity as a reward in and of itself. Does life need to be pure discipline and no fun? Of course not. But if you can enjoy any activity, in the moment, why not learn to master something that will pay off for you in the long run Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 http://zenhabits.net/discipline-master/