Learning to anticipate and problem solve your barriers to progress is a key part of starting any life change, especially when talking about exercise or diet. Identifying barriers and finding solutions for healthy habits is quite possibly the most important thing you will ever learn. Too many people never take steps toward a healthier and more fulfilled life because they lack the proper skills to recognize and get past their barriers.

If you find yourself constantly making excuses to skip exercise, try sitting down with yourself and digging a little deeper into what could be holding you back.

Try this “exercise” for identifying barriers and finding solutions:

  • Step One: Write down all the excuses you have made to skip exercise in the past
  • Step Two: Elaborate on those excuses and look for underlying issues (EX: I’m too tired is the excuse, but going to bed late may be the underlying issue). These underlying issues are your barriers to change.
  • Step Three: Restate your barriers into simple statements where you take responsibility for your actions. Using the above example you could say “I don’t go to bed at a decent time which causes me to be too tired to exercise the next day.”
  • Step Four: Take your list of barriers and brainstorm as many solutions to the underlying problems as you can think of. Be realistic about your solutions and make sure that you can actually change those things. Create plan B’s and plan C’s to potential hang ups. Give yourself a fighting chance to succeed by being prepared and knowing where you are most likely to fail.
  • Step Five: Set a goal, just one, based on the identified solutions and write it down. Using the above example you could write “I will go to bed before 10 pm each night for the next four weeks”.
  • Step Six: Work on one barrier at a time and knock your list out! Only do goals that are realistic for you at this time and ones that you feel motivated to accomplish. Creating good habits out of your solutions will help you to build exercise into your program safely and effectively!