It is that time of year again -- the time when people sweep the past behind them and embrace new beginnings. What makes the new year great is that it forces you to evaluate everything you've done over the previous year. Most of us cringe because we feel we haven't accomplished much. I see it every year; people set lofty goals for themselves and end up stopping after the first month. I am guilty of it. If you're anything like me, you feel a bit anxious about the new year. You have big goals, but completely fumbled on them last year. Therefore, you doubt your ability to achieve them this time around.
The reason why gyms get the most sign-ups in January is because people genuinely want to change, but why then do they stop going after a month? I'm sure last year you committed to something like:
Losing 30 pounds
Learning a new language
But looking back, nothing has changed... why is that?
Well, it's because there is an epic flaw with the way we do New Year's resolutions. Most of us plan to accomplish this and that, and perhaps write it down in a notebook. However, it doesn't go much farther than that. We set our sights on a goal, and then hope to suddenly develop the focus, drive, and resilience to achieve it.
Sorry to break it to you, but hope and wanting to change isn't enough. If it was, then everyone would be accomplishing their goals.
The key to jump starting 2015 with a bang and bettering your life lies in the four steps below.
1. Associate massive pain with the thought of not achieving your goal
As I mentioned earlier, only having the desire to change isn't enough. You need to first change your mindset and make the conscious decision to truly commit to that new goal. Then associate massive pain to the thought of not achieving your goal. For instance, for those that don't enjoy working out, their brain associates pain with going to the gym and running on the treadmill. Instead, they should be associating pain with NOT going to the gym. In the long run, a lack of exercise will lead them to poor self esteem and health problems. Pain needs to be associated with the thought of not working out or not achieving your individual goal.
2. Believe you can achieve your goal
This may seem simple, maybe even elementary, but it's important. At the end of the day, if you don't believe deep down that you can meet your goal then you won't.
You could be thinking something to the effect of:
"I've tried to lose weight several times, what's going to make this time different?"
The problem here is that you've already counted yourself out before giving yourself a chance. Henry Ford said it first:
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right."
Believe that this time will be different. Know that you can do it.
3. Take it one day at a time
It's a marathon, not a sprint. It can be daunting to look at what you want to achieve as a whole. For instance, the goal of writing a book can feel overwhelming. Instead of wallowing in the fact that you have to come up with 1,000 pages, perhaps say to yourself:
"I want to write every day, be it only 10 minutes or an hour. I want to make a conscious effort to make progress every day."
Each day is an opportunity for you to chip away at your goals. Everything counts. Here's how to make sure you stay on top of your goals for 2015.
4. Celebrate the small wins
Now if you're like me and missed your goals last year, take a moment and look at what you did achieve. Did you...
End a toxic relationship?
Perform better in your job?
Expand your network by making new friends?
Make small changes in your eating habits to better your health?
If you did something to improve your life, that is worth celebrating. Now, celebrating the small wins is the most important aspect. Self-motivation is key! Reward yourself often, especially right after you do the act. As a result, you create a positive association in your brain to that act. You just finished your workout? Wrote 500 words? Reward yourself. It makes you want to continue meeting your daily goal.
At the end of the day, you have two options for 2015. You can either:
Stop setting goals (since you're convinced you won't achieve them anyways)
Take a chance and go for what you want. You are responsible for your own success. Pursuing your goals is never an easy feat but it truly pays off in the long run. During the moments you feel like quitting, just remind yourself of the long term benefits.