We all have them.
We’ve all made them.
And we all struggle at times when working toward them.
It happens, you guys! It is totally and completely normal to lose a little motivation along the way when trying to implement behavior changes to reach our goals.
A few examples:
- >> Many of you know that it took me TWO YEARS to be able to do a full, unassisted chest to bar chin-up from a dead hang. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up on that damn chin-up because it was just SO frustrating to not be able to do one despite all the things I was doing in the weight room to build up that strength. I actually DID throw in the towel a couple of times!
- >> This year one of my goals was to start my online business, grow my following, and launch my first program. I signed up for a year-long mentorship program to get me started, and one of the things I’ve committed to in order to keep the momentum going is to do the following things at the very minimum: write at least one thoughtful and meaningful blog post per week, send at least one email to my insider list per week, and post at least once per day on my social media channels (at LEAST Facebook and Instagram). Even if I’m having a crazy week and can’t work on anything else for my business, those are my three non-negotiables to remain consistent for my readers. There have most definitely been times when I’ve felt like nobody is reading, so what’s the point?
- >> It’s common for my personal training clients to be super excited during months 1-3 of their training programs. They come in gung-ho, committed, and ready to work. Month three is especially exciting because they are able to not only feel, but start seeing some physical changes. This continues for a while, until they reach that inevitable plateau. It happens to all of us: whether we’re trying to achieve fat loss, get stronger, or work on building any new habit really, there comes a point where our progress stalls a bit.
Again, totally normal to feel similar to any of these examples, but in each of the scenarios above, that inner spark has to be reignited in order to continue on the initial path. Nobody else could get that motivation to return to the chin-up bar for me; I had to take action myself. When business gets challenging, I have to be the one to remind myself of why I started in the first place. And with my clients, yes I coach them through the process, but they are the ones who have to dig deep to find the motivation to keep going during plateaus.
Regardless of what behavior change you are working on right now, today I want to provide you with some things to try if you are struggling somewhere along your journey. If you aren’t struggling, then please tuck these tips away and revisit them if your motivation wanes.
Ways to Stay Motivated to Reach Your Goals
I’ve broken these tips up into two categories: the first is more cognitive, and these methods are more about sorting out your thoughts and feelings as they relate to your goal. The second category is more behavioral, and these are more action oriented. I don’t recommend trying to tackle all of these at once, but experiment with some of the different methods to figure out which can help motivate you the most!
Get back to basics.
Remind yourself of all the benefits that come with doing the behavior you seek to accomplish. For example, are you trying to get a better night’s sleep? Make a list of not only the health benefits that come with a better night’s sleep, but the lifestyle benefits as well. What will change in your life if you are more rested? Add to this list whenever you think of something new, and revisit it whenever you need to!
Move yourself emotionally.
With any goal you are working on, you HAVE to connect it to your why. It’s not enough to just say you want to lose fat. Why? This why has to strike an emotional chord so high that NOT doing the behavior is not even an option anymore. For me, the whys behind succeeding with my online business are so that I don’t have to go back to corporate America, so I can reach an indefinite amount of people and share a message I feel so passionately about, not wanting to be tied to a 1:1 money for time model and having a flexible schedule so I can maximize time for friends and family, wanting more financial freedom so that Tim and I can travel often and afford a summer home someday, and probably most chord striking for me – so that I have the means to support family members that need it someday, whether that be sick parents, my closest uncle who doesn’t have children, or my sister once my parents have passed.
Consider how your behavior affects others.
It can be really helpful for a lot of people to think about how their CURRENT behavior affects other people. How would changing that behavior and reaching your goal affect your spouse, parents, children, siblings, friends, co-workers, etc.? If you are a smoker, how does your smoking habit affect your family? How would they benefit from you quitting? If you are a mom who constantly criticizes your own physique and pokes at your stomach in the mirror, what might your young daughter be learning from your behavior? How would she be better off from seeing you treat yourself with self compassion?
Use decisional balance.
Weigh the pros and cons. Pros, benefits, and motivators are all the good things you’ve considered that will come from reaching your goal. Cons, barriers, and challenges are all the things that make it hard to continue toward your goal. Say your goal is to get to yoga three times a week to work on both your fitness and stress management. Ask yourself 1) Why do you want to go to yoga (the pros), 2) why shouldn’t you go to yoga (the cons), and 3) what’s your strategy for overcoming any of the things listed in #2? Basically, just consider what good and/or bad could come from going and what good and/or bad could come from not going, and line all of these up, side by side. When I have clients do this, they often discover that some of the barriers they thought they were up against are either excuses or they realize the challenges can be overcome by a strong enough pro or motivator.
Announce your commitment.
Write down or announce to others exactly when your new or continued behavior will begin and when. Make it specific and write or announce the what, the when, and the how. Whenever I am working on something new, I often like to tell you guys about it because I feel like it makes me more accountable. For example, if you tell a friend that you are working on going for walks every night after dinner, that friend is going to be more likely to ask you later about how the walking is going. Wanting to have a positive update to report back on definitely motivates me!
Design environmental reminders to help you stay on track and remain motivated. These include things like setting out your gym clothes from the night before or putting a picture, personal mantra, or motivational quote on your mirror.
Identify a current or former behavior that you want to change and then identify a health promoting behavior you can replace it with. For example, one of the strategies I’ve used to combat nighttime eating is to text, call, or send an email to a friend instead of reach into the box of crackers. Think of something that seems feasible to replace the behavior with.
Find your tribe.
I’ve written before on the importance of finding your fitness tribe, but basically you want to reach out and connect with like-minded people who are working on the same goals as you. Interest groups are a great place to start with this! You also might want to consider whether you have any family members or friends who could assist you in any specific ways, even if they aren’t necessarily working on the same goals as you. Think carefully about what you’d like to ask someone to do (or not to do!), and then ask the person about it. This could be asking a co-worker to go for a 20 minute walk at lunch every day, asking a cousin who loves to cook to send you some healthy recipes that she thinks you might like, or asking a specific friend who loves to give you a hard time about passing on the bread basket to please stop making comments about it. My friend Lauren actually just wrote an awesome post about the qualities of a good accountability partner if you want more on this topic. (She just so happens to be one of MY accountability partners!).
Finally, think about how you can set up ways to reward yourself for completing either your main goal or the weekly action goals that will help you get there. I recommend staying away from food and drinks as a reward system because of the dangerous association this can set off (a different topic for a different day). Instead, think about what other types of things might motivate you: a massage at the end of the month, a new dress when you’ve hit a PR at the gym, etc.
Again, I hope these tips help you when you find yourself struggling with a goal. I know whenever my motivation needs a little re-sparking, they’ve certainly helped me.
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