Done With New Year Resolutions? Seven Steps To Stay Motivated For The Long Haul
An article by Margie Warrell gives us seven tips to get us thinking proactively for the new year and beyond and creating our best selves for the future.
“I don’t do new year resolutions,” Jane told me last week. “What’s the point? I never keep them.”
You probably know a few people like Jane yourself. Perhaps you’re one of them!
Given that less than 50% of people who make resolutions ever keep them until Valentine’s Day, it’s understandable why so many are cynical about them. But while people sometimes make hasty resolutions, the real reason many fail is simple – they don’t take into account basic human psychology.
To make positive changes in your life – whether on January 1st or any day of the year – you need to set yourself up for success for the long haul. After all, success isn’t all just about attitude, it’s about employing strategies that steel your resolve and and fuel your courage when fear of failing rises up. Here are 7 of the most powerful!
1. Connect With A Compelling Why
Motivation is tenuous in nature; it ebbs and flows. It’s because our desire for safety and comfort is in a perpetual tug of war with our desire for growth and meaning and contribution.
For a resolution to stick, it must be aligned with your core values and hold deep personal meaning that you connect with on a deep emotional level. Most people want to look better or have more money, but your resolutions have to go beyond superficial desires and connect with what truly matters most to you.
Whatever you resolve to do, get really clear about why it really matters and the personal price you’ll pay if you put it off any longer. If your resolutions don’t come with a big burning Why you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to keep your resolve at the first temptation to ditch it.
2. Own The Pay-Off You Get For Not Changing
Change is difficult, even change for the better. If it wasn’t everyone would be changing those aspects of their relationships, finances, jobs, and health that pull them down day after day, year after year. The reason they don’t is because to change anything we have to give up the payoff of sticking with the status quo. A sense of security. Convenience. Emotional familiarity. Mental complacency. Social kudos. No risk.
Then ask yourself this one question:
“Is what I’m getting from the choice I’ve been making worth what I’m giving up to have it?”
Whatever you do, don’t discount the cost of inaction. Delay grows increasingly expensive.
3. Narrow Your Focus
Aiming high is great, but deciding you want to run a marathon, get your MBA, change jobs and have a third child can leave you bouncing about like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction you are going. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on one major goal at a time, not twenty-one. As Daniel Goleman wrote in his latest bestseller Focus, “Distraction is a goal killer!” So too is overwhelm and exhaustion.
Start with just major undertaking come January 1st. Then break that goal down into do-able small bite-size steps.
Small steps, strong start, clear focus!
4. Don’t Go It Alone
Change is hard. Achieving big goals is hard. Dealing with setbacks is hard. Staying motivated is hard. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your ability to succeed and are 100% behind you in helping you do what it takes can make all the difference.
Create an environment of accountability that makes it hard for you NOT to do what you’re committed to. For instance, consider
– Making a public pledge. Let people see what you’re up to and enlist their support to hold you accountable.
– Joining a group working toward similar goals, hire a coach or engage a trainer (and pay for 6 months upfront!)
Just never underestimate the power of your social environment to support or sabotage your success. Likewise, if there are people (or environmental triggers) in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly, set clear boundaries up front or avoid them entirely.
5. Make Your Goals Measurable
It’s all well and good to want to eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more and create better work/life balance but you could add an apple a day to your diet and tick the first box. But precisely what are you committed to? The more specific you are, the better odds you’ll succeed. Describe your goals and resolutions (let’s face it, they are one and the same) in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success. For instance:
– If you want to build a more intimate relationship with your partner, schedule at least one date night per month.
– If you want to get fitter, aim to run 10k by April 30th, then schedule your weekly workouts for the next month.
– If you want more balance, decide exactly what needs to be added to or subtracted from your life to achieve it.
6. Expect Setbacks
While it’s easy to get caught up in your initial wave of enthusiasm as you imagine yourself looking svelte on the beach next summer or banking that first million, it’s also easy to come crashing down when your initial efforts don’t produce immediate and spectacular results.
Success wouldn’t be meaningful if it landed easily in your lap. In fact, it’s the roll-up-your-sleeves hard-work and sheer grit in the face of setbacks that makes your successes truly meaningful.
What matters most isn’t that everything goes exactly to plan, it’s what you do when it doesn’t! Your disappointments, bad days, failures and setbacks don’t define you; how you respond to them will. So if Plan A doesn’t work, try Plan B… or C… or D
7. Invest in Your Best. Daily.
Not even Tony Robbins is on-fire every single moment of every single day. It’s just not the human condition to feel forever passionate, purposeful and pumped up about making changes or achieving big goals. It’s the small things you do every day that ultimately create the big results everyone wants. Those small things begin with self-care – sharpening your saw, recharging your batteries and refocusing on what matters most.
So let me ask you – who are you when you are at your best; when you’re playing your ‘A game’? Now ask yourself, what do you have to do for yourself – daily, weekly, regularly – to be that person more often?
– Physically strong and energetic with plenty of stamina.
– Emotionally confident, optimistic and resilient.
– Mentally focused and clear on top priorities.
– Spiritually centered and attuned to your highest purpose on this earth.
Whatever it is, schedule time right now on your calendar for doing it! You will go further and bounce back faster if you are continually investing in your ‘best-self.’ It’s not selfish or indulgent… it’s indispensable for living your best life!
Truly successful people do things others don’t want to do or don’t think to do. If you want to make the new year your year of living bravely, invest time now to plan ahead so you can start strong, stay brave and live well, no matter what!
Article by Margie Warrell