It's no longer early January. And if you are like 50% of the population, you are beginning to slack off on the goals you set for this year. If so, try these five tips to help get you back on track:
1) Abandon all or nothing thinking:
Perhaps you planned to workout seven days a week, or you hoped to get a new job by February first - and now, those goals seem unrealistic. What about revising your plan to be more doable? So many of us set enormous expectations that set us up for failure. If we try to do too much too quickly, we can create goals that are very difficult to achieve and to maintain. And when we don’t meet our demanding standards, we give up all together. Consider instead, that if you are doing even 5% more toward your goal this year versus last year, you will make progress.
What about harnessing the power of small steps to kick-start your journey? Putting effort into your goal for even 15 minutes once a week is better than doing nothing at all. You can always add incrementally over time if you want to. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady may be the best way to win your race.
2) Use Motivation to fuel willpower
Many of us think that if we just had enough willpower, we could move mountains. What we don’t understand is how to tap into our willpower. While you may be able to force yourself to do something for a while, if your heart isn’t in it, it’s not going to be sustainable. Motivation is the key that unlocks our ability to make good choices in difficult moments (aka “willpower”).
If you are seeking motivation, envision what outcome(s) you want for yourself. See yourself in your new body, your new role, or whatever it is that you want. Imagine how good it will feel to have what you desire. Visualize it, feel it in your body, and see it in your mind’s eye as if you already have it. Write it down, or create a vision board, and in some way, visit your hoped-for outcome daily.
With your vision in mind, it will be easier to make better choices. Find one to three things that you can do this week that support your goal. Make sure you feel at least 80 percent confident that you can get them done. If you don’t feel that confident, make the activities smaller and more achievable until you do. Then next week, do it again. Check in with yourself. How’s it going? Make modifications if needed.
Keep it up. There are many paths to your desired outcome and most of them won’t be straight lines. When your willpower starts to get shaky, revisit your vision (and perhaps use the next few tips as well)!
3) Ditch the negative self talk
Beating yourself up may seem to be a handy tactic for staying on track, but in the long-term, it’s demotivating. And since motivation (and feeling good about yourself) fuels willpower, self-compassion is a better alternative for self-correction. When you are relaxed and feeling like you are on your own team, it is easier to tap into your creative problem-solving ability.
Try this: If you “disappoint” yourself in some way, consider talking to yourself as of you were speaking to your best friend. What would you say? From that place of understanding and kindness, restore your faith in your ability to accomplish your goals and figure out your next move toward success.
4) Celebrate your accomplishments
When you make progress toward your vision, – no matter how small a step, you deserve a virtual self-hug. It’s important to take a moment to reflect and feel good about what you have done. In fact, give yourself a “HELL YES!” Your celebration doesn’t have to be a big deal, maybe it’s just a moment of reflection - or even 15 minutes of hard-earned down time. Small rewards reinforce our positive behaviors and makes manifesting our vision more fun. They keep us going.
5) Get honest and face your fears
Last but not least, if you find you just can’t seem to make it happen, get super honest with yourself. What is really holding you back from your next step? If you notice that you are frustrated and just can’t make any progress, consider digging more deeply into what fears and beliefs might be getting in the way.
Most of us have old behaviors from childhood that helped us cope with our world. Now that we are all grown up, many of those old strategies and beliefs don’t work too well any more. In fact, subconscious patterns can get us stuck in an endless loop that often leaves us feeling helpless. Frequently, those patterns are hard to recognize. If so, seek support.
There are many resources you can tap into to explore your inner world. Journaling, coaching, therapy or “THE WORK” of Byron Katie can get you into motion again.
Whatever you choose to do with this one sweet life, remember, you are here on this earth to contribute in your own unique way. With patience, perseverance and self-compassion, you can accomplish your dreams.