Shortly after the calendar rolls over, thousands of people around the globe will begin their New Year’s rituals-setting resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking and so on. Unfortunately, most of these well-intentioned declarations won’t stick for very long. Studies have shown that only 12 percent of people who made New Year’s resolutions achieved their goals. For most, it is a never ending cycle of failing to achieve the goals, resetting them at the start of the year, failing to achieve them and setting them again. It’s time to break the cycle. Here are ten ideas that I believe will help you do just that:
1. Define your Motivation
One of the first things you have to figure out is why achieving the goal is important to you. Defining and connecting with your why will create the impetus for you to go after your goals. Make a list of all the positive things you expect to experience as a result of achieving this goal. Be sure to state them in the positive. Let’s say your goal was to pay off your debts. Don’t make statements like “I would worry less” Instead, you could say “I would feel more at ease.” Remember, the emotions you bring to the table are powerful catalysts.
The word motivation is really a contraction of the words “motive” and “action”. What is your motive for action? What is it that will drive you to take actions towards achieving your goals? Taking action is the difference between wishing and dreaming and often the thing that separates achievers from non-achievers.
2.Change Your Habits
Your habits drive you on a daily basis manifesting themselves in a pattern of thoughts and behaviors that occur automatically. They have played in a big role in where you are in your life and will influence where you are tomorrow. Achieving your goals will require you to develop new habits because the existing ones weren’t serving you. Successful people understand this and so they cultivate habits that feed their success.
There is a natural temptation to identify all the habits you want to change and them to embark on a massive drive to change them all at once. While that is admirable I think you will find that approach to be overwhelming and a little counterproductive. A smarter approach would be to just focus on implementing one new habit at a time. Some people might consider this approach to be excruciatingly slow but you have to remember that you didn’t develop your non-supportive habits overnight and you are not going to remedy them overnight either.
This brings me to my next point…
3. Have Patience
I like to say that you have to learn to be patiently impatient. I know that sounds like a paradox but what I mean is, you must act with a sense of urgency in the pursuit of your goals but at the same time develop an understanding that it will take time. You cannot go from New York to California in one quick swoop. It’s a journey. Changing your habits and achieving your goals is a process. It will take time to unlearn and retrain your mind to a new way of thinking. Give the process time to work its magic.
4. Create a Visual Representation
You have at your disposal an amazing power that most of us have never been taught to use effectively. That power is your ability to see in your mind’s eye—visualization.
When you visualize your goals you begin to “see” the possibility of achieving them. Through this process of seeing in your mind’s eye, as Steven Covey puts it, you are able to “begin with the end in mind”. In other words you begin your goal achieving process by seeing yourself already accomplishing the goal.
Visualization is a powerful and important technique for motivating yourself and building the self-confidence needed to achieve your goals and you can improve on it by creating a vision board. A vision board is a simple tool. It involves creating a physical representation or collage of what you want to achieve. In that way, you’ll have a constant reminder and representation of your goals, intensifying the effects of visualization, which acts on your subconscious mind to motivate and encourage you towards goal achievement.
5. Avoid Catastrophizing.
Catastrophizing is an irrational thought. It involve imagining and dwelling on the worst possible outcome of something.
For example, you may be working on a project and your thought patterns go something like this: “I just spotted a mistake on this report. I’ll never get it done, or if I do, it’ll be so late and full of mistakes, it won’t matter. I’m gonna get fired.”
A more empowering way of thinking would be : I am glad I caught this mistake. I will work on correcting it quickly. My boss will be very pleased with the quality of my report”
Succumbing to catastrophizing is like missing the free throw even before stepping up to the foul line. It hampers your opportunities in life, work, relationships and so on. In fact, it can affect your entire outlook in life, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, disappointment and underachievement.
6. Manage your negative thoughts.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to have negative thoughts popping up in your head. The challenge isn’t the thoughts themselves. The problem arises when you allow them to linger until you begin to believe that they are true. Whatever you resist, persist, so do not fight the thoughts whenever they pop up and start to hang around. This will only make them become stronger. Calmly and deliberately switch your focus to a completely unrelated subject and those thoughts will melt away.
7. Look for the positive.
When faced with a setback or difficult situation, the natural tendency is to ruminate on what’s going wrong and become frustrated. You have to train yourself to find something positive in the situation.
As the famous author Napoleon Hill so wisely stated “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” ~Napoleon Hill
No matter how unfortunate a situation might be, there is a lesson that you can learn from the situation. There is no doubt that these lessons at times can be very expensive but every problem comes with a learning opportunity disguised in it.
8. It’s OK to blow it.
As you work to achieve your goals, there is going to be a learning curve as well. This is the period during which you are working on your new routine and cementing your new habits. Let’s say that during your quest to drop a few pounds you ended up devouring a tub of ice cream. Does that mean that you should abandon the program altogether?
Stop reaching for perfection. There will be many bumps along the way, some of which you would have been responsible for creating. Recommitting yourself to reaching your goal will get you back on track. Avoid focusing on what wasn’t done or should have been done differently. Allow yourself to make mistakes and then forgive yourself.
9. Encourage yourself.
This means that instead of holding yourself to standards you would not expect anyone else to meet and then beating yourself up when you don’t, you should learn to be kinder to yourself. Learn to become your biggest cheerleader and encourage yourself. Compliment yourself and give yourself constructive suggestions
10. Team up
No matter how capable and motivated you might be, chances, are, you will not have all the answers to the challenges you will face. Collaborating with someone who is pursuing goals that are similar to yours or complement yours will definitely be a huge advantage.
An encouraging word or even some tough love from someone who has your interest at heart can be a big boost. Human beings push and inspire each other when they work interdependently.
Keep On Pushing!