We often approach goals as a chance to change. Setting a goal is our chance to finally save that money, lose that weight, or exercise more. Having a new goal is great in the beginning because there is nothing like the feelings of excitement of finally making a positive change in your life. But what happens a few weeks or months later after setting that goal? We are usually right back into our old habits and that excitement is far from reality. This year, why not take a different approach to your goals. Here are 8 ways you can make positive changes in your life that last and are easier to maintain.
- Forget About the Goal: We often tackle a goal with a sudden rush of change saying “I am going to go to the gym 7 days a week.” The truth of the matter is, we are more motivated to stick with a goal when we focus our minds on more meaningful sources of motivation- Enjoying exercise, eating healthy, saving money, and feeling good. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you will do it more often, allowing the change to happen more naturally.
- Cut Yourself Some Slack: When it comes to life changes, there is one constant for all of us: We will fail sometimes. There will always be days or weeks when we fall off the wagon or are tempted to give up all together. However, those lapses are an important part of our ability to eventually succeed. Each time we fail, we learn a little bit more about ourselves; what works for us and what doesn’t. Rather than trying to be perfect all of the time, why not make it a goal to work on dealing with those lapses more effectively.
- Tame Your Fears: There are an abundance of obstacles that can stand in our way to reaching our goals. Sometimes, we even come up with excuses- “I’m tired”, “They never have sales”, or “A little bit more doesn’t hurt.” We may have hidden fears within us about paying off our debt, saving more money, getting in shape, or eating better. We may be afraid of failing or hurting ourselves or our family. Make it a habit this year to focus less on forcing a change that isn’t working and more on what’s really stopping your from reaching it.
- Don’t Try to Be Perfect: We may not always realize it, but we often have strict rules as to what progress counts and what doesn’t We have to save a certain amount or workout for a certain amount of time or we didn’t accomplish anything. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t leave room for the inevitable obstacles or “life”. Life happens all of the time- going out of town, a sick child, an aging parent, or a work deadline, and sometimes, our strict routine and plan doesn’t happen. Rather than giving up, make it a new habit to stop trying to be perfect and allow for flexibility. Remember, every bit counts. For example, if it’s your goal to save $100 a month and you only save $50, that is still $50 that you could have spent on something you didn’t need. Or, if it’s your goal to workout 5 days a week and one week you only get a chance to do it 3 times, don’t fret. You are still getting health benefits from those 3 sessions.
- Improve Your Confidence: I used to be someone with little self confidence. Even if I was doing all of the right things and enjoying my progress, I would still find fault with myself or my situation. Getting caught up in your flaws can really influence your perception, making it hard to see the good that you have accomplished. You end up getting less motivated to carry on which is the exact opposite of what you were trying to do in the first place. Make a goal this year to celebrate your strengths and the things you are doing right and I can guarantee you will feel much happier and feel stronger to tackle new goals and challenges that are important to you.
- Break the Rules: No matter what goal we set, someone out there has come up with a list of rules that your should follow to get from point A to point B. It is easy to get caught up in these rules and create difficulty for ourselves in trying to conform to them. Forcing yourself into a mold that isn’t right for you will never work. You can’t put a square block into a circle hole. Instead, do your research and try and see what methods work for you. Make your own list of rules. For example, this can apply to budgeting. Everyone has different goals in their life so how each person budgets their money is going to look different. The important thing is to have a budget and keeping track of your money, it’s not what it looks like or how much in each category.
- Change the Way You Think: For some of us, the thought of change is a lot like being told to eat something we hate. It’s something we hate but we have to do. If the goals you have are just one more obligation in your daily routine, then you will always find it hard to actually reach them. Instead, take a moment and really explore your thoughts on each goal you have. Is it a chore? Is it something we hate having to do? Work on trying to change your perspective or your definition of the goal at hand. You may actually find it turns into something you actually want to do.
- No Matter What, Feel Great: We often work on a goal but we forget to feel great doing it. Paying attention to how different choices make us feel makes it much easier to make the right choices for us. Rather than worrying about how you’re doing in the big scheme, ask yourself “how are you feeling?” Find out what makes you feel the happiest, most confident, and most satisfied. The answers in those categories are the things you should be doing to reach your goals.
You see, having goals is not our issue; it’s how we approach them. If you can take one message home from this post it is to be honest, flexible, and happy when approaching any of our goals.
So, what goals do you have for this year? Have you come up with a plan that will work for you? Please share.