We all know that person who actually sticks to their exercise goals. The one who goes for a run every morning or hits the gym before they go to work. And we all envy them. We look at them and wonder, “Why can’t I do that?” Turns out, these exercise fiends all have a personality trait in common. And you can develop the same personality trait if you give it a dedicated try.
What is this magical personality trait? Being a planner!
Making A Plan Makes The Difference
A new study from psychologists at the University of Oregon examined the connection between certain personality traits and exercise habits. 282 people who participated in the study took a personality test and then tracked their exercise habits for 20 weeks.
Though everyone who participated in the study went to the gym less as time progressed, the people whose personality tests indicated that they like to make plans for achieving their goals went to the gym more often and more regularly than other participants. On their personality tests, these people indicated that they strongly agreed with statements like “developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me.” All of the study participants were required to write down their exercise plans at the beginning of the study, but the people who had the personality trait the study dubbed “planfulness” were the ones who actually followed through on that plan.
Another interesting thing that the study found was that the level of detail in the exercise plan didn’t impact whether the participant went to the gym more often. You’d think that the more detailed the exercise plan the more likely someone would be to follow through. But this study found that wasn’t the case. The people who wrote down a detailed exercise plan were just as likely to go to the gym as those wrote a simple exercise plan. The real determining factor as to whether the participants went to the gym was really just whether they considered themselves to be planners.
Why Do Planners Follow Through More Consistently?
Those of us who don’t like to plan know that simply making a list or writing down a plan doesn’t ensure follow-through. So, what is it about loving to plan that makes planners follow through with exercise? Planners think about and process their goals in a way that helps them follow through.
Planners are able to take an abstract idea like going to the gym and break it down into achievable tasks, like set an early alarm, pack a gym bag the night before, etc. Planners also have the ability to adjust their goals as they make progress. So, when they achieve the initial goals, they add new goals instead of settling with what they’ve already achieved. And planners can project the results of achieving their goals and focusing on future results better than non-planners. Instead of focusing on how much it sucks to roll out of bed in the morning, they focus on how good they’ll feel when their workout is done. Instead of thinking about how they want to skip the gym today, they think about the accomplishment of hitting the gym a certain number of times by the end of the month.
Can You Become A Planner?
Luckily for non-planner types, you can become a planner and increase your likelihood to achieve long-term goals. But it will take some dedication. You can’t make a plan and follow through one time. You need to make a plan, follow-through, adjust the plan, and follow through again. How can you make that happen? Take a page out of the planners’ book. Focus on future results instead of how you feel about your goals in the present.
If you’re ready to really succeed at your goals, start making a plan today.
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