Whether you’re trying to lose weight, tone up, or train for a marathon, one thing we often hear is that people know what to do… but they aren’t doing it! These people have educated themselves about nutrition, they have created a workout plan, or they have joined a gym. Then they don’t eat the foods they planned, they don’t do their workouts, and they rarely set foot in that gym.

Sound familiar?

Then there are other people who go to the gym three times per week, follow a strict eating plan, take their supplements and go for a walk after dinner every night. Do these people simply have more will power than the rest of us?

Actually, no. Studies have shown that motivation isn’t simply about willpower. And the success of these fitness buffs certainly has nothing to do with money, talent, or intelligence. It’s not that these people are luckier than the rest of us somehow. These people also experience obstacles to their fitness ambitions. They get sick, they get tired, they experience schedule changes, and so on.

The difference is that some people approach problems as a puzzle to be solved, rather than a failure that shames them.

Think back to the last time that you skipped a workout. Were you tired? Had to work late? Just didn’t feel like it? Whatever the reason, you likely blamed that circumstance and then spent the rest of the day feeling bad about your failure to exercise as you had planned.

The most dedicated gym rats and successful dieters also have “off” days. They cheat on their diets or they feel too tired for a workout. But these motivated people take emotion out of the equation, and approach the situation from a problem-solving mindset. They realize there is no point in beating themselves up over eating a brownie or sleeping in too late. Instead, they ask themselves what caused the circumstance to occur in the first place, and then devise a strategy to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

Next time your motivation falls short, don’t beat yourself up! Look at it as an opportunity to learn, and develop better strategies to help yourself succeed in the future.