Forming an Exercise Habit – Part 5
The final key step Dr. Bandura identified to succeed at change through developing self-efficacy is what he called “diminishment of cues of failure.” When it comes to forming an exercise habit, these usually show up when you fail at a new exercise – maybe not be able to do it very well or not at all – or try to do too much, too soon then interpret that to mean you cannot do it ever,and it’s because you’re too uncoordinated, too old, too weak, too (fill in the blank). However you look at it, the problem is you and you cannot change or progress.
Bandura noticed that people who developed self-efficacy didn’t see their failures as something intrinsic and permanent like the color of their eyes, but rather as a problem that, with a little more information and determination, has a solution. Bandura says it this way:
Step 4 – Diminishment of cues of failure: They heighten and sustain their efforts in the face of failure. They quickly recover their sense of efficacy after failures or setbacks. They attribute failure to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge and skills which are acquirable.
Here’s how you put his insight to work. If your feet get sore when you walk or run, you don’t conclude your feet were not made to run, rather you buy better shoes. You don’t say I’ll never be able to do a push-up because my shoulders are weak, you say I need to find some easier exercises to strengthen my shoulders to prepare for doing a push-up. You don’t say I can’t jump rope, you need to first get comfortable jumping very lightly without a rope.
Frequently older people get frustrated because they can’t do a certain exercise, maybe something they did easily when they were younger, and interpret that to mean they are destined to limited physical activity for the rest of their lives then just stop trying.
Avoid setting up cues to your own failure by trying to exercise at a frequency or intensity that are more than you are ready for. That makes exercise unpleasant, even unsafe, sure cues (and excuses) to stop.
Go slow and steady. Be persistent. Get advice. Then you succeed. It works every time.