The new year is just around the corner, now is the time for reflection and planning. Every year we make resolutions and either decide that we will finally lose that weight we've always wanted to lose, change jobs, get out of debt, fall in love, or enjoy life more. For most of us these aspirations and hopes last us through the first few weeks of January. If we are really lucky, we may be able to keep these resolutions till the mid-February. But, let's be honest, it is difficult to change habits and hard to maintain our initial levels of motivation. What can be done? What can we do to follow through with our resolutions?
Start by figuring out what you truly want
Take out a sheet of paper and write down all the truly important goals you would like to to meet in the next five years. Then, after each of those goals write down the number of years you want it to take. Determine the top three one-year goals, write down what needs to happen in order for you to fulfill those goals especially the things that you really don't want to do. Those are the goals you should focus on for the new year.
Keep the motivation running
In This Year I Will...M.J. Ryan explains that in the short run we can motivate ourselves through fear. If we scare ourselves - I've got to stop drinking or I'll lose my job, we are more likely to make a change than if we do not. However, in the long run we must head into something more positive. Your brain will naturally seek pleasure and anything positive will reinforce that.
Turn "I'm afraid if I don't find a better-paying job, I'll become a bag lady" into "I want a well-paying job so I will be financially secure." - M.J. Ryan
Break it down into steps
Much like climbing Mount McKinley from the base, if you look at your goal head on, it can be overwhelming. It's especially difficult to change habits and going cold turkey from the start or 100%, will burn you out. Remember this is not a sprint, but what could be a marathon. Smaller steps are easier to take and will let you experience "success", which ultimately begets motivation.
Act as if you are already there
This is similar to the notion of fake it until you become it. There is a gap between who you want to be and who you are now, if you close that gap you'll get that much closer to being that person you want to be. Arnold Schwarzenegger used this similar technique in body building and in his Hollywood acting career.
"What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true." - Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Create contingency plans
If not A then B if not B then C. Suppose your goal is to lose 20 pounds in three months and to do that you would have to exercise three times a week. On the first day, you get to the gym and it's locked and closed for the day. Instead of telling yourself that you will start tomorrow, you look outside your car window and consider running on the pavement. Well, it looks like its going to rain, so then your plan C is to do some exercises at home. Make it necessary to do what it takes to get to where you want to be. Stay away from letting yourself make excuses.
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