Making time for exercise is a big challenge for many people. Whether it’s about exercise or anything else, time management is about making time for your priorities.

As I’ve written before, if someone says they don’t have time to exercise, I like to challenge them by explaining it’s not that you don’t have the time, it’s that you didn’t make the time—in other words, you haven’t made it a priority, you’ve made other things a priority.

I recently read about an excellent approach to sticking to what’s important to you: Personal Policies.

In a Wall Street Journal article, “A Policy of Saying ‘No’ Can Save You Time and Guilt,” writer Jennifer Breheny Wallace explained:

Personal policies are an established set of simple rules that guide your decisions and actions. On the surface, they offer a gentler way of saying no, as in: “I don’t take work calls on Saturdays because that’s my time with family.”

In this case, instead of feeling bad about saying no, you feel good about it and those on the receiving end don’t take it as rejection. They take it as you simply upholding your policy.

Wallace went on to describe research showing personal policies as helpful in reaching personal goals, such as exercise and other goals related to your health:

According to a series of experiments…telling yourself “I don’t skip the gym” versus “I can’t skip the gym,” for example, can help motivation. In one experiment…women were divided into three groups: One was asked to use the “I don’t” strategy, another the “I can’t” strategy, and a third (the control group) was simply told to say no to temptation…While only 10% of the “I can’t” group stuck with their goal, 80% of the “I don’t” group were still using the strategy successfully 10 days later. Lead researcher Vanessa Patrick…suggests that when a refusal and a policy involve someone’s personal identity—”I’m someone who doesn’t skip the gym”—it can improve self-control and encourage you to stick to a goal.

If you want to help yourself stick to an exercise habit, what you tell yourself and what you tell others will make a big difference in your success. Tell yourself, and tell everyone else, it’s not about having the time or not, it’s about making the time. And tell yourself and everyone else, it’s not that you can’t skip a trip to the gym, it’s that you don’t skip your trips to the gym.

What do you say to yourself to help you stick to your habits? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,

David

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