How are those New Year’s Resolutions working out for you? Do you even remember them? Truth be told most of us wind up foregoing the resolutions we’ve barely begun, a few short weeks into the New Year. If your resolve has begun to wane it’s not too late to re-energize it. Drop that defeatist attitude because here are seven ways to keep your motivation up and “life” well out of the way of your goals:
1. Pick a goal you believe in and seriously intend to achieve: Almost across the board people agree that 2011 was a tough year. As a result, many of us came into 2012 with extremely high expectations, making multiple resolutions, any one of which would be hard to achieve. Rather than setting yourself up for failure, pick one resolution that you can realistically accomplish without turning your life upside down. Oftentimes, working toward one goal inevitably leads to accomplishing others you had in mind – see #4.
2. Write it down… everyday if you have to! Doing so serves as a reminder. More importantly, however, when something’s on paper we’re less likely to alter it in our heads, allowing ourselves sneaky ways to bend the rules. One of my patients writes his resolution on the mirror annually. This drives his wife crazy but he swears its how he gave up smoking.
3. Keep a calendar: Many folks use Google Calendars to set goal reminders, while tracking progress toward their goals on a daily basis. While you’re at it, use GC to stay on top of every thing else in your life by color-coding multiple calendars and tracking as many things as you want. Make a workout calendar, a financial calendar, an appointment calendar…you name it! Consistently referring back to your calendars will keep you focused on the one that tracks your resolution.
4. Reward Yourself: Another patient wanted to give up alcohol to support her boyfriend, a recovering alcoholic. She made it fun by setting aside all the money she would have spent on alcohol each month, and used half of it on new clothes. The reward made it easier for her not to feel deprived. The unanticipated gifts were that she inadvertently lost weight and had more outfits in which to show off her new body, all while saving money!
5. Work with a friend or partner: Even if your goals aren’t the same, your schedules will probably correlate in some way, affording opportunities to touch base on your progress. You’ll also increase the likelihood that one of you will be motivated on a given day, even if the other is not. Partnering up forces you to be honest and stay focused on your goal.
6. Be strong in the face of setbacks: Don’t let those setbacks be an excuse to stop working toward your goal. When your resolution is something that’s really difficult for you to keep, like giving up sweets or eating fewer carbs, don’t let one brownie be an excuse to have several because “let’s face it, I’ve already failed”! This approach will get you nowhere. Studies have shown that over half the people who allow themselves some slips along the way and power through them are ultimately more successful in reaching their goal!
So don’t despair if you’re feeling like you’ve lost control of what you set out to do in 2012. There’s plenty of time left, and tons of great tools and tactics to get you back on track. Good luck!