Motivation Tactic #4 Just Do Something Every Day

Just do something every day.

This tactic is about keeping it simple and making exercise/activity/training/your workout an integral non-negotiable part of each day. It’s more what I would call an operational tactic rather than a psychological or inspirational tactic. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.

Before I became hooked on triathlons or I had any experience with intentional training, I exercised, but it was random and discretionary. I might go to a favorite yoga class or go to the gym or I might not. I might bike to work or run after work, or I might not. It was always at risk of being eliminated from my day if something else interfered. When I theoretically exercised some days, but not others, I was always blowing it off to the next day.

I must have wanted more consistency because one day I hit on the idea of committing to at least 20 minutes of exercise each day, non-negotiable. It could take any form, and it could certainly be more than 20 minutes, but it had to be at least a brisk walk for 20 minutes, every single day.

What a discovery. It changed everything. I began thinking differently about my day: what I was going to do and when would I fit it in. I remember one day, already packed with work, I also had to attend a big family event that meant driving to Poulsbo. That night I found myself jogging laps on the roof deck of the Bainbridge ferry–I got in the 20 minutes. Another thing I remember about that commitment is how it changed my body. I’ve never struggled with any major weight shifts, but coming through my mid-30s and having a sedentary job, I had gained and held onto 10lbs I didn’t really want. Once I committed to the every day plan, I saw that change. Even though I wasn’t always doing intense exercise, but just making sure I did something every day, it shifted my metabolism.

A few years later, when I began to take triathlons seriously, hired a coach and got my first weekly training plans, this idea came alive again. I had an exercise prescription for each day. The training plan and a coach to report back to implied a commitment and importance. I needed to find a way to make the workout happen.

If you are trying to get back into the groove of exercising, or if you workout but it has a random quality, I highly recommend the 20-minutes of anything strategy. If you work from a training plan, you already know how this magic works, but let this be a call to renew your commitment. Since the decision is where it’s easy to fall down, take the decision out of it.

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5 thoughts on “Motivation Tactic #4 Just Do Something Every Day

  1. no off days? I’ve scheduled 2 off days to my exercise routine for now. today is one. after 3 days (including 2 intense strength days!) I was really looking forward to my rest day today.

    1. Jen, I was hoping someone would raise this question, and I was pretty sure it was going to be you. If you have a fitness plan that’s working well for you, I wouldn’t knock it. I’m putting this out there as a motivation tactic more than as a training plan template although I think the basic idea can help people stick with an established training plan. If you have a fitness habit (as I know you do), the 20-minutes every day doesn’t have to mean a strength class or a run. On recovery days it could just be a walk or a stretching session. The point is A) to make it important part of each day, and B) to take the decision-making out of the mix.

  2. Great post Rachel! Do you ever read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Blog? She had a similar post about when she was starting her blog, the best advice she got was to blog every day and that sometimes it’s easier to do something every day rather than once in a while.

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