Most people I’ve spoken with who’ve fallen out of their fitness routine (or not started one in the first place) often blame a “lack of motivation.”

But motivation isn’t the problem.

Not having a plan – and someone to hold them accountable to it – is where most people go wrong.

And by plan, I mean one that is: 

Simple: If you make things complicated, you run the risk of losing interest and/or getting discouraged when it gets too hard to follow. Start with one thing you’re at least 80% confident you can do consistently for 2 weeks, then build from there. And if you’re less than 80% confident, make it easier … and simpler.

Realistic: If, like most people, you’re busy with work, school and/or kids, working out six days a week probably isn’t happening. Once you realize that you can get great results with about three workouts a week, another day or two of a light physical activity you enjoy, and making your meals a little bit healthier, it makes the process a whole lot easier.

Deadline-Driven: If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, start smaller. A 180-pound man following a well-designed exercise and nutrition program about 80% of the time will lose an average of 1 pound per week. So try to do a little better than average and set a goal of losing 5 pounds in your first month. You’ll gain momentum and confidence, create some habits that will stick and will be less inclined to give up when things get challenging.

Once you’ve got your plan, it’s important to have some support from someone you trust – a trainer or coach, workout buddy, or significant other – so you’ll be more likely to stick with it when “life happens.”

If you’ve struggled in the past with your fitness, motivation probably wasn’t the problem. Try taking small, consistent actions instead.