How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Health Goals

US News

You probably have health goals that you wish you stuck to more often. I know I do.

Whether it's losing weight, building muscle or reducing stress, there are plenty of things that we say are important to us, but that we find hard to fit into our daily lives for one reason or another.

When it comes to living healthy, change can be hard. It's not that we're not capable of exercising or eating healthier. It's just that it's too easy to procrastinate. Getting started is often the hardest part. In fact, it's more likely that at this time next year you'll be struggling with the same things rather than performing a new habit easily.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Recently, I've been using a simple strategy to stop procrastinating on the goals that are important to me, make healthy changes a reality and get more things done. It's called the "two-minute rule." Let's talk about how it works and how you can use it to live a healthier and happier life.

[See: Finding Support For Your Health Goals.]

The idea for the two-minute rule originally comes from David Allen's best-selling book, "Getting Things Done." The rule is simple: If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.

Obviously, you can use this rule for just about any small task in your life -- from tossing the laundry in the washing machine, to calling back a friend, to cleaning up the clutter that has been sitting on your table for weeks. If it takes less than two minutes, do it right now. You'll be surprised by how many things you put off that you can get done in just 120 seconds.

Even better, you can also use this rule to make it easier to kick-start new habits and live healthy. Here's how:

How to Start Healthy Habits With Ease

You've probably noticed that one of the hardest parts of living healthy is getting started. If you actually get your workout clothes on and get to the gym, you'll usually end up finishing the workout. It's getting off the couch in the first place that's the hard part. The same is true of eating healthy, making time for fun and relaxation, and dozens of other healthy habits. You're perfectly capable of doing these things, but finding a way to start doing them during your busy day is hard.

This is where the two-minute rule comes in. You can't complete healthy habits like exercising or cooking a healthy meal in two minutes, but you can definitely get started. And just like getting off the couch and getting into the gym, once you start you'll usually end up finishing.

[See: Easiest Diets to Follow: In Pictures.]

For example: Maybe your to-do list is long, your job is stressful and you don't have time for an hour of yoga. But you can easily spare two minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply. And if you do, you may discover that there's enough space in your busy schedule for a yoga session.

Maybe you don't feel like cooking a healthy meal - but you can easily eat an apple in the next two minutes. And if you do, you'll often find that you feel like eating other healthy foods as well.

Or maybe it wears you out just to think about running three miles. But you can easily get your shoes on and get out the door in the next two minutes. And if you get out the door, you'll often find that you end up running those three miles.

You get the idea: Forget about the size of the whole task, and simply focus on the next two minutes. How can you make it so easy to get started on your health goals that you can't say no?

[See: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Health.]

Forget Motivation and Start Small

Simple strategies like the two-minute rule make the first step easier and make it more likely that you'll actually follow through with your health goals in the long run.

We often tell ourselves that we struggle to live healthy because we're "not motivated" or because we're "too lazy." But the funny thing about motivation is that it often comes after you begin, not before. It's so much easier to live healthy once you build up a little momentum. That's why getting started -- even if it's in a very small way -- is often the most important part of building healthy habits.

Forget about motivation and inspiration and give the two-minute rule a try today. Starting small is better than never starting at all.

[See: Why You Can't Rely on Willpower For Long-Term Results.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

James Clear writes about useful strategies for mastering your habits and living better at JamesClear.com. For practical ideas on how to live a healthy life, both mentally and physically, join his free newsletter.

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