4 Things That May Be Holding You Back from Your Dreams

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2. When Your Enthusiasm Fades, So Do You

Is that treadmill you bought a year ago still sitting idle, despite your wholehearted belief that you would use it regularly? You're not alone. Gillian, a nurse-practitioner, knows she needs to exercise. For the first few weeks after she purchased a top-of-the-line machine, she did. But that was months ago and every night, as she settles into the couch, she's flooded with guilt and wonders why she never does what she tells her own patients to do.

The next time that you're in Gillian's shoes, there are simple ways you can reenergize yourself. Let's say you're driving home from work thinking you should go to the gym but you pull into the drive-through instead. Taking advantage of what researchers call "primes" -- which are all the images, words, or situations that subconsciously prompt you to think or act in specific ways -- can give you just the push you need. Think of primes as cues that influence your thoughts, decisions, and actions, even though you're unaware of them, explains Miller.

Athletes use primes all the time: Michael Phelps tattooed Olympic rings on his hip to spur his push for gold. Sports psychologists post words like "success" and "win" in training gyms. Some people have found that changing their cell phone ring or computer screen saver turns a why-should-I-do-this attitude into a why-not-do-it one.

For instance, Gillian might vow to go for a 30-minute run four mornings a week. To get in an exercise mind-set, she should lay out her workout clothes (one prime) so she's ready to go as soon as she wakes up. Placing a pedometer (another prime) on her nightstand so she can strap it on right away gives her another nudge. "People walk 2,000 more steps a day when they use a pedometer," says Miller. "You think: 'Gee, only five more minutes and I'll hit a mile? I can do that!'"

Keeping an exercise log will also boost your confidence and keep you going. Joining a walking club or tennis league can help too because you know that other people are counting on you, which can be a big motivator.

Continued on page 3:  3. You're Stymied with Self-Doubt


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