We are 5 months into 2013. Do you remember the goals you set at the beginning of this year? I do. And yes, I admit it, I am “guilty” of not having started to work on most of my New Year’s resolutions, yet I have already set new goals for myself today. Does that sound familiar? Well, no worries, you are obviously not alone. Human beings are goal setters and goal seekers. Goals are what motivate us (for the most part). That’s why we love setting them for ourselves. It gives us a feeling of purpose and something to look forward to.
However, staying motivated if the goal doesn’t seem to be attainable or is taking too long to be achieved is the hardest part. In those times keep in mind that you are the leader of your own change. No one else.
Here are 7 tips on how to motivate yourself (and others):
1. Set A SMART Goal For Yourself And Write It Down
In case you are not familiar with this abbreviation:
- Specific – be specific as possible with what you want to change/achieve.
- Measurable – keep track of your progress.
- Attainable – make sure your goal is realistic and attainable. If you set your expectations too high then your motivation will probably turn into frustration soon.
- Relevant – how important is that goal to you? Why do you want to achieve it? How passionate are you about it? The more you are passionate about your goal, the easier it will be to find ways to achieve it.
- Time-Bound – set a time when you want to have achieved your goal. This will help you create a sense of urgency and prevent you from getting side tracked.
2. Be Passionate About It
Research has shown that people act in accordance with the hedonistic principle. This explains why people are good at tasks they enjoy and are interested in. Sounds logical right? That’s why it is so crucial to find something that makes you happy and what you really enjoy doing. For example, if your goal is to exercise regularly, then find a work-out you have fun while doing it and stick to it.
3. Be A Positive Example!
Walk the talk. Do what you believe in. If you’re changing your attitude, your diet, exercise routine, ending a toxic relationship etc – be patient and kind to yourself and others. There will be set-backs, stagnation, weak moments, and maybe even critical comments from others but as long as you stay focused on your feelings and what is good for YOU, you will still be one step ahead of others because you have STARTED the project “positive change.”
4. Accept That You Cannot Force Change!
Again, if you change your life in any way (healthy eating, new relationship, move to another place, losing weight etc) you are showing people around you positive change and that they could do the same. However, this would require them to change something in their lives and to leave their comfort zone, and that’s scary, and requires quite a bit of courage and strength. When I started to change my nutrition 6 years ago, people would keep saying "Oh I know you don't eat that because it's not healthy" or "You probably think I shouldn't eat that" etc. And you know what? Truth is I couldn't care less about what they eat. Understand that when people see you being able to make a change oftentimes lead them to feeling judged by you, which can act as a de-motivator for them. Perhaps they will even try to talk you out of your plan or a certain goal to justify for themselves not to leave their comfort zone. So remember, this isn't about you, it's about them. All you can do is be a positive example, be supportive, empathetic, inspiring, and signal that they can join you any time. No pressure. As Buddha said “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
5. Keep Your Focus On Your Goal
There will be stagnation and perhaps you will feel like you are not moving towards your goal anymore. In those times, imagine yourself driving a car when it’s raining really hard. You will probably have to slow down because the rain makes it hard to see where you are going. However, you will stay focused and still move forward, although you’re moving a little slower than before. So keep going, you’ll get there.
6. Provide Feedback To Yourself Or Others
Feedback is the breakfast of champions! I cannot say it often enough. Feedback is important in any situation and environment. Humans are social beings who need a sense of belonging as well as appreciation and approval. Think about how you feel when you give someone a compliment, or when someone says something nice to you. Providing and receiving feedback elicits positive emotions on both sides. Receivers feel appreciated and as an important part of the group, which elevates their mood, and improves their overall satisfaction and ability to cope with stress and emotions. It’s a win-win situation, right?
7. Reward Yourself
Indulge yourself sometimes! Allow some “Me time.” Write it down in your calendar if you are a busy bee like me. It is so important to recharge your batteries and to do whatever you enjoy doing, whether it is watching an old movie, eating a big cup of ice cream, playing a certain sport, or just playing your favorite video game. It will keep you motivated and encouraged to keep on going. Think about how great it feels to accomplish something or to hit a milestone on the way to the goal. But remember, step by step, little by little, AND never forget to be kind to yourself. You deserve it.