When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it is easy to become so focused on figuring out the perfect approach that your progress is stalled or sabotaged before you even get started. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed when trying to find the best plan for change: which diet will get you to your goals, which workout will build the most strength, which supplements will remedy your health and so on.
You probably experience some success with these ever-popular promises to yourself. Perhaps you make it through January and all the way to the first week of February before becoming discouraged with the lack of results. Determination wanes because that health and fitness hill (in your mind) simply becomes too steep to continue climbing and your resolutions now seem too daunting. Eventually, you forget what you committed to in the first place!
So, the real question becomes: how do you stay motivated?
You don’t need to be perfect! Focusing on progress over perfection is the only way to bridge the gap between your actions and your ambition.
Bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day, paying attention to your progress will create both small and large successes over time.
Creating successful resolutions requires taking consistent action and moving forward, no matter what. As you begin adding these small (but not insignificant) changes into your daily routine, you’ll notice that they will get easier and easier until they become almost second nature.
Tips to Support Progress
There will always be chores to do, emails to reply to or tasks to complete. Let’s face it, you’ll never be “done” with housework or emails. The time to get started on your new goal won’t simply show up and if you wait until you “have time,” you’ll never get to it. If you want to make any progress toward your ideal vision of wellness, it is important to take action. Not at the ‘right time’. Right now.
Whether you want to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again, free yourself from bloating, headaches, or other health related symptoms, run a marathon or complete a fitness challenge, you need to start with the basics. Rather than creating a challenging plan with huge lifestyle shifts to overhaul your daily routine all at once, start by setting small habits that easily fit into your current lifestyle.
Rather than simply considering the outcome you want, focus on the habits that lead to that place. This way you can set yourself up many realistic mini successes along your journey. You could start by focusing on drinking water or taking your lunch to work. Keep it simple and doable so you can be consistent and take action every day.
No matter how organized or motivated you are, life sometimes happens and will knock you off track. From general interruptions to illness and personal issues to bad weather to technology failures there will always be obstacles on your path. Anticipating and solving for them in advance is the key to steady progress.
Ask yourself, “What potential problems could arise? What can I plan for in advance (even if it’s my own emotional toughness) to overcome or balance out the negative impact of these potential problems? What do I need to do now in order to keep making progress?”
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Expect (and Accept) Self-Doubt
After the novelty of starting on your journey has worn off, you might find yourself experiencing a tidal wave of self-doubt.
You may wonder why you committed to this goal in the first place or worry that you chose the wrong goal, are incapable, the goal is too difficult, and you might not have what it takes. You might even consider quitting or changing the whole thing and starting over!
Whether you’re getting in shape, training for a competition, healing your body, or creating more joy in life—expect self-doubt to slap you in the face. It is totally normal to experience surges of self-doubt when moving beyond your comfort zone. This is a hallmark of progress, not a signal to stop.
If you find yourself feeling disheartened, take a breath. Remember that self-doubt is normal. No matter how successful or experienced you become, self-doubt never fully goes away. Embrace it as a sign the process is working!
Move Forward From Setbacks.
Setbacks happen and are no reason to give up or throw away all the hard work and changes that have brought you to this point. Instead, use this time to reflect on what has happened. Think about why whatever you were hoping for didn’t work out, and consider what parts of it were successful after all.
When you’ve reflected on it for a moment, ask yourself “What’s the next right move here?” The answer may be as simple as “drink a glass of water,” or “sleep on it.”
Sometimes the next right move is taking a break to gain a fresh perspective. Go for a run or a walk in nature. Work out. Dance. Meditate. Take some space. Call a trusted, experienced, and supportive friend.
When you ask yourself, how to move on, you’re directing your brain and heart to search for a productive answer. You can put the setback behind you and continue on with your journey – one step at a time (no matter how small it may feel).
You might be wondering how long this process is going to take you. The simple answer is as long as it does.
Cultivate patience. There are no shortcuts. You can’t achieve success overnight. You have to patiently work for it and achieve it. There is no greater satisfaction in achieving something you patiently worked for. Over time, as you put in the work to build up those healthy habits, you’ll find your body and mind wanting more and more of whatever it is that you’re doing to continue that feeling.
If you’re not willing to put in the effort over an extended period of time (which will be definitely more than a few weeks or a set number of days), then be honest with yourself: a particular goal is probably not that important to you. That’s okay. Drop it. Dig deeper. Find something you are willing to stick with and work for, no matter how long it takes.
Sticking To Your Resolutions
Everyone wants to make progress and the only way to do it is by taking action. Not every day will go as planned. Not all successes will be lofty. The key to achieving the goals you set yourself every year is not expecting the journey to be free of bumps or detours. Understand that it’s going to be a messy process. Jump in anyways. Remind yourself of the changes you’ve made and how far you’ve come. Focus on ‘progress, not perfection’ anytime you’re feeling stuck or afraid and continue to (slowly) reach for the stars!