As the new year fast approaches, we reflect on the year that's passed and begin looking forward at what we hope to achieve in the coming year. Far too often we make ourselves a bunch of promises and resolutions that we give up just weeks into the new year.
We begin the year full of enthusiasm, optimism and inspiration but soon find our motivation and commitment begin to wane and we're left beating ourselves up about how we haven't managed to stick to that diet, learn that new skill or dedicate regular time to exercise.
There are four main reasons why we fail to stick to our new year resolutions:
- A Lack of Motivation -
Motivation is key in changing any behaviour. If we can maintain our levels of motivation, we can achieve anything. We really need to invest an equal amount of time, energy and effort into keeping ourselves inspired and motivated, as we do in forming these new habits.
Motivation is the difference between seeing something as an inconvenience, and seeing it as a priority.
- A Lack of Commitment -
Sure, we all want to have an overflowing bank account, the body of a model and the knowledge base of an encyclopedia, but how committed we are to achieving those things is a whole other story.
If we're making ourselves promises that we really aren't that dedicated to achieving then there's a very good chance we'll fail. Whereas, if we're fully committed to changing our behaviour and hungry to achieve our goals, we are going to fight far harder to get to where we want to be.
- Lack of Patience -
Unless you've got an unlimited supply of miracles at your disposal, you're not going to become a millionaire overnight, you're not going to be able to knock over a 10km run in record time and you're not going to have the body of your dreams by next week.
In these modern times, we are so used to getting what we want on demand. With the click of a button we can get instantaneous results for so many things these days but achieving goals takes time, a lot of hard work and an immense amount of willpower.
Mastering the art of patience will go a long way in keeping you on the right track.
- Goals are Unrealistic -
I'm a huge fan of dreaming big, but I'm also well aware that behind every big dream, lies a hundred and one small accomplishments that have paved the way towards making that one dream come true. The goals we set must be achievable or we are only going to get disheartened and quit.
So how can we change our behaviour and develop new habits without throwing in the towel?
Here are a few ideas:
Surround Yourself With Others Who'll Keep You Motivated
Whether you prefer to team up with one or two others, or you'd rather join a group, be sure to surround yourself with other people who share your same vision. This is a great way to stay motivated and to feel supported.
We all have enablers of some form or another in our lives. Whether it's your best friend who is always hounding you to go out with them when you'd prefer to save your pennies, or your mother who insists on feeding you another plate of food even though she knows you're trying to cut back.
Fill your life with people who encourage and support your endeavours rather than those who encourage you to break the rules you've set for yourself. The latter group will only prove a hinderance to you achieving your goals, while the former will help keep you on track.
Schedule it in. Add it onto your 'to do' list. Consider it mandatory and soon enough it will become routine.
Tell all of your family and friends about your goal and post about it on social media. Let the world know what your goals are and the progress you're making. This keeps you accountable and makes it all the more difficult for you to give up when the going gets tough.
Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have
Work your new habit into your already exisiting routine to minimise the disruption it causes. Amending your exisiting routine is far more sustainable than trying to re-do your whole life.
For example, you might normally switch on the TV for half an hour while you eat your breakfast. Instead of trying to find another time in your jam-packed schedule to brush up on your Spanish, use that 30 minutes each day to listen to Spanish podcasts.
Remind Yourself Why
Regularly reminding yourself of all the reasons why you want to create this new habit will help you to maintain a high level of motivation.
When you really can't be bothered to go for that walk, remind yourself that you're doing it so you can be fit enough to run around after your grandchildren at the playground.
Break Big Goals Up Into Smaller Ones
In order to keep ourselves moving forward rather than allowing ourselves to give up, we need to ensure our goals are realistic and achievable.
I suggest breaking down big goals into smaller, more easily attainable ones that will keep you moving in the right direction but will also allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment as you progress.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
When you hit your milestones it's important to celebrate your achievements. Reward yourself for going to the gym for 2 weeks in a row by doing something you love. These rewards will keep you motivated to push forward and achieve the next milestone.
No matter what goals you've set for yourself in 2019, don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get there as easily or quickly as you'd hoped. So long as you're moving forward in the right direction, you're doing great!