Staying motivated to stick to our plans and goals is perhaps one of the hardest parts of achieving the goals that we set for ourselves.
We set off with lots of enthusiasm and high levels of motivation and will power, we get a few days or weeks in and that motivation and enthusiasm dwindles, and if like me in the past, we lose interest and we give up. So how do we keep that motivation up, and how do we maintain that will power to get us to the end of our journey?
There are lots of techniques that you can use to keep focus and keep striving towards your goals and we are going to discuss them this week.
First of all we need to make sure our goals and plans are SMART, as we have discussed over the last couple of weeks. By making our goals and our plans SMART we absolutely give ourselves the best chance of success.
Once we have our SMART goal and plans, we need to make sure that we prioritise them, and we don’t just mix them in with the million other things we have to do each day and week of our lives.
If we really do want to achieve something in 2021, then you do need to make it a priority. And this probably means that you need to make you a priority. We are all very busy with work, and looking after family members, running people here, there and everywhere and helping others and we are really good at putting ourselves to the bottom of the priority list. But if you want to achieve something, you and that goal need to move up the priority list and be somewhere near the top.
I know Rick has a visualisation technique that he uses, when he is goal setting – he puts his goals up on a shelf in a protected box. This protected box means that whatever needs to be done will be done, because nothing gets in the way of what is in his protected box.
How many times have you started out on something, and after a couple of weeks life takes over and it just disappears off the bottom of the priority list? If this has happened to you in the past, it may be really useful to reflect on why that happened, and then reflect on how you could ensure that in the future, your goals and plans remain a priority.
Sacrifices and compromises
We have mentioned sacrifice briefly in previous discussions already, and we will most definitely have to make sacrifices to achieve our goals. BUT and it is a big but! But, make sure those sacrifices aren’t too great, because this will only lead to failure. If you can’t live without having a drink on a Saturday night don’t do it, make your plan fit around this, compromise a few calories each day in the week, to allow you to have a drink at weekend. If you can’t live without a sweet treat after ever meal – make it fit! – find the compromise Find the sweet treats that fit in your calories, and make your portions a tad smaller, so that you can fit them in.
We discussed short, medium and long term goals, and how they all link to each other, and are all going in the same direction of travel. By having very short term goals, every little bit of success we experience in achieving them boosts our confidence, self-belief and motivation to keep doing the do. I know so many people who train for an event, do the event, then immediately book on for another because they are sky high with motivation, confidence and self-belief that they just want to keep going, keep pushing themselves further.
Baby steps also means not stretching ourselves too far – and this links back to those SMART goals again – by making sure we make gradual changes and have gradual success, this again fuels that motivation.
Getting yourself a motivation buddy is a sure fire way to stick to your plan. Whether that’s someone with a shared goal, or someone who loves supporting others. Just make sure they are the right sort of motivation buddy, and not the sort who will suggest a trip to Starbucks for a hot chocolate with whipped cream instead of going out for your planned exercise.
Keeping yourself accountable is a great way to keep your focus. So that means not swerving the scales after a bad week, and not jibbing on the workout after a bad day and not giving up on tracking because what you want to eat wouldn’t look good in your meal tracker. Hold yourself accountable to your plans, decisions and choices. When you hold yourself accountable you keep moving forward. When you stop being accountable that is when you fall down.
Find your purpose and connect with it
This is something we go to regularly when talking about motivation. Your purpose is your reason for being, the reason you get up in a morning, and the reason you do everything in life. If you can connect with your purpose, and find a way to link your purpose with your lifestyle change goals, you will have a much greater chance of success. When things get tough, connecting with your purpose is a sure fire way to boost your motivation. Check out this article on finding your purpose, to read more about it.
Measure your success
If you regularly check in with your goals (that’s that accountability thing again) it gives you a little boost to know that you are on track. So make sure your plans include some checks and balances to measure your progress. That might be weekly weighs or monthly measures, checks on distance walked or run for physical activity progress, being able to do something for longer without taking a rest, or increased ability when doing every day tasks. Or even just checking in with your self with a bit of a body scan to see how different parts of your body feel when doing certain things.
Be ready for setbacks
Life will always throw us curve balls that can knock us off track. We can’t do anything about this, so we just have to accept it and not beat ourselves up about it, because it is beyond our control. What we can control is how we respond to it. Keeping that positive mindset, and keeping things in perspective, allows us to jump back up quick and get back on track. Always have the mindset that you will get back to it, accept what has happened and move on.
Keep it all in perspective
Some days or weeks just don’t go to plan, we fall off track and it all goes to pot. Some days or weeks we feel like we put all our effort into something and then we don’t get the results that we expect. There is sometimes a reason, and sometimes there’s nothing obvious that jumps out at us, as to why we haven’t achieved what we expected. Its important in these situations to keep it all in perspective. Yes, it’s frustrating but it isn’t the end of the world and it most certainly isn’t a reason to give up. What we need to do in these situations is sit back, reflect and gain some perspective. Perspective on your performance, perspective on your current situation, perspective on how fortunate we are, and most importantly perspective on how far you have already come, and the gains you have already made.
We all have it in us!
Goals don’t have to be as grand as completing a marathon, losing 10 stone, or climbing Mount Everest. They can be something as simple as losing a few pounds, or being able to walk up flights of stairs at work without being breathless.
Whatever your goal is, it needs lots of consideration as to how you will achieve it and how you will maintain motivation. We all have our own experiences that we can draw on as well – everyone will at some point have had to use mental strength to overcome a challenge and achieve a goal. Whether that was passing exams, getting a job you really wanted, meeting a deadline, completing a physical challenge, getting through a terrible experience or overcoming an illness. We are all capable of achieving whatever we set our mind to, but we do have to set our minds to it and put some energy into it. Draw on the skills and techniques that you have used in those previous personal challenges and adapt and utilise them to your advantage to achieve your goals.
Plan your comebacks from your setbacks, and find ways to keep your motivation levels high. Check in with your goals regularly to make sure you are still on track. And most importantly keep moving in the right direction.