The start of a new year means those resolutions are front of mind:
“I want to drop 15 pounds.”
“I am going to run a marathon.”
“I am going to complete a triathlon.”
“I’m going to read for 30 minutes a day.”
We start the year off with these great, giant goals, but unfortunately and statistically, they fall short for most of us after that first month or so, and we get stuck back in our old habits. So, how do we really change things up to ensure that we meet our goals?
Having the goal is great, however, the important first step is setting up your environment to ensure that you’re successful. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 ponds, but you still have pop-tarts and soda in your house, well the first time something derails your plans for the day (and something will because that’s how life works) you will succumb to the temptation of those pop-tarts and soda. If your goal is to run a marathon, but you don’t have a backup place to run indoors, say a gym with a treadmill, then the first time there’s inclement weather you’re going to skip your run for that day which may lead to skipping the next day and so on and so forth.
Your plan is only as good as your environment allows you to be. You have to set your life up so that no matter the outcome of any day, you still have the ability to stick to your plan.
The second most important thing when trying to stick to our goals is stepping stones. Break your goal down into small bite size pieces. If your goal is to lose 15 pounds in 6 months, have a progress chart somewhere in your house. When you get to 3 pounds, mark it off on your chart. Seeing the fruits of your labor will motivate you to continue doing what you’re doing. If you only allow the final destination of your goal to be what makes you feel accomplished, then you’ll have only one day when you feel that way. It could be quite some time depending on when your goal is. You need more satisfaction than that to feel motivated to continue.
The third and most important thing when trying to stick to goals is understanding your habits and this somewhat ties in with the first thing I spoke about. In order to understand your habits, you must first understand your triggers. The great example is brushing your teeth. You wake up, you use the bathroom, you brush your teeth. The act of waking up and using the bathroom immediately triggers you to brush your teeth. You don’t even think about it. It’s just what you do. In order to be successful in reaching your goals, you have to attach your goals to your habits. If running a marathon is your goal, then it would be wise to put on your running shoes and clothes as you drink your morning coffee. Making the coffee the trigger to put those things on will make you feel like it’s time to go run. If losing 15 pounds is your goal, brush your teeth the moment you get done with dinner. The act of brushing your teeth at this point will trigger you to not eat anything else the rest of the evening to avoid any mindless late night snacking.
You must realize that motivation alone will not carry you through. Life happens. It is important to set up the right environment, be proud of your progress, and make the steps to achieving your goals part of your daily habits.