Motivation Monday: Struggling to make those NY resolutions happen?
With NYE approaching, most of us are setting new, glorious goals for the new year, full of optimism, motivation and hope. “2018 will be the year that I will change (this)” or “this will be the year where I will accomplish (that).” These are phrases that we hear all the time.
There is nothing more satisfying than feeling full of motivation, full of energy to change things, to turn your dreams and wishes into reality.
This are the times where you feel alive, in control & able.
But, sadly, as the days go by, this seasonal motivation starts to wear off and you start to fall into your old behavioral patterns.
And then before you know it, it’s December or January again. And you’re planning ahead (again). What a vicious circle. The planning to do all these things you strive for takes the place of the motivation you need to actually get them done.
But this pattern is not unbreakable — but in order to break it, we must find its core and really fight for it.
This is why in this article, we will focus on how to set the correct goals and how to successfully implement them.
Finding your goals…
Your goals have to be achievable and realistic. It’s great to dream big (we highly suggest it), but you always have to start small (or smaller). In other words, you have to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevand and Time-bound.
- Specific: The goal “I want to be happy” (although it’s one of the most honest goals that anyone can set) is too vague. Such vague goals are hard to achieve because you don’t know where to begin and how to make it happen.
Instead, try to make your goal as specific as possible. Break down your construction of what happiness is, and set this goal instead. What would make you happy: getting a promotion, spending more time with your family, start writing more? Go ahead and set that as a goal. Specify the “where,” “when,” “with whom,” and the “how.”
Be as detailed as possible.
- Measurable: Goals are measurable if you can identify exactly what you will experience when you reach them.
In other words, you have to break down what your new habits are going to be in order to achieve those goals. Becoming healthier is a great goal, but you have to make it measurable: how much will you have to exercise, what will your diet consist of?
- Attainable: To figure out if your goal is attainable, make sure that you have the means and resources to achieve it: that means time, costs, talent or skills.
Humans love challenges, we love being analytical, solving problems and figuring out the best way to do something — it is in our nature, something we evolutionarily inherited from our ancestors. The thing is that our goals should be just the right amount of challenging. Not too hard, not too easy. This is called the optimal zone of difficulty.
That does not mean to compromise with lesser goals. Dream as big as you want! But in order to be successful, you have to break your down your dream to smaller ones.
- Relevant: Choose goals that you care about, not goals that you should care about. Find something that speaks to you personally, that it would change your life, that it will mean the world to you when you achieve it. Otherwise, you are just fighting for someone else’s cause. What’s the point?
- Timely: Never underestimate the importance of a good deadline. Set a timeline for what you are going to achieve and when. Make it realistic and flexible.
Set landmarks. That way every little thing that you achieve will be a victory, a morale boost that is simultaneously bringing you closer to your goal.
Putting them into practice…
Now that we figured out how to be successful at setting goals, we have to move to the next part: actually working to make them happen. Although motivation is important, sometimes it’s not enough: you will need to be disciplined, devoted.
Question: What separates professionals from normal people?
The answer is: rituals and discipline.
When you have a goal that you want to achieve, one of the most important things that you can do is integrate it in your routine, make a ritual out of it.
Set a time during every week that you will actively work for your goal — it should be standard every week. Find a ritual for your goal.
The example of Twyla Harp is really eye-opening.
Twyla Harp, one of the greatest choreographers and dancers of our time, explains the essence of rituals in her audiobook “The Creative Habit.” She states:
I begin each day of my life with a ritual; I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I workout for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.
It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it — makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.
In fact, one of the most difficult parts of making something happen is taking that first step. But, as Newton’s first law of motion explains “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.” By creating a routine, where you work toward your goals every day, you are in motion, you are active. The benefit of having a ritualized routine is that you don’t waste your time thinking “when should I do this?” or “how will I do this?” You know that on Mondays between 10:00–12:00, you are working out. You put on your running clothes and you do just that; no mental preparation, no space for procrastination. As soon as this becomes habitualized, you will have no struggle doing it.
It’s best to close this article with a somewhat bittersweet sentence. Sometimes the pain of not doing something is worse than the pain of doing it. The discomfort that you feel when you try to achieve something (when you are working out, when you are actively trying for something — and that effort is had), is nothing compared to the discomfort that you feel when you know that you are doing nothing to grow, nothing to change your life for the better.
Okay, maybe you are doing something, it’s better not to be melodramatic.
But think about how you will feel when the change happens, how satisfied, accomplished, proud! — Visualise it, write it on a post it, use it as wallpaper. Understand that you are working for your goals because you will benefit from that, you will grow, you will be satisfied with yourself for trying, for being in charge.
Make your dreams happen. Start today.
Written by N.L.
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In case you need a structured program to make your goals happen, check out Workout for Happiness here.
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