It’s the middle of February. It’s cold outside. All of the holiday hubbub is a distant memory. What about those resolutions you made with such good intentions? Are they also a thing of the past? Have you started passing up broccoli in favor of Cheetos? Skipping the gym because you are “too tired” or “too busy”? All those shiny promises you made in the rush of January optimism seem way too hard in the harsh February ho-hum. Here are some tips to help you get back on track:
- Re-evaluate the goal. Take some time to examine your goals now that you have some distance from the frenzy of hastily made high-pressured new year’s resolutions. Do they still make sense? Are they actually important to you or were you just feeling like you needed to come up with something to change? If you can’t remember why you made the resolution in the first place – ditch it. Just let it go. If the goal is worthy and important to you, keep it but ask yourself some questions:
- Is it too big? Some goals are just overwhelming. We can’t accomplish them because we don’t even know how to get started. Maybe your resolution to “become debt-free” is such a goal. Yes, it’s important and meaningful. But it is paralyzing in scope.
- Is it too small? We need a goal that challenges us. We need to feel pushed a bit by it. Perhaps your decision to “stop drinking soda” isn’t really addressing your underlying desire to get healthy. It’s hard to persist if you don’t feel like you are making real progress toward something important to you.
- Is it realistic? Sometimes we just don’t have the resources to meet a goal at a given time. Is it realistic for you to commit 5 hours a week to volunteering right now? Do your work and family demands allow for it? Make sure that you can devote the time, energy, and resources needed to accomplish the goal. If not, set it aside for another time.
- Tweak your approach. Once you are sure that you have a good goal – it is meaningful and important, large enough to challenge but not overwhelm, and realistic – it’s time to look at how you are trying to make it happen. Take some time to consider what you’ve been doing. Did you start full-speed ahead the first couple weeks just to come to a screeching halt when you burned out? Or maybe you never really get out of the starting gate? Ask yourself the following:Maximize support and make it visual. In order to stick with a long-term commitment you need to have it right in front of you. Add visual cues to your environment – a note on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator, a motivational screen-saver on your work computer, a picture of your dream vacation spot taped to your credit card. Figure out when and where you are most likely to slip and post a bright reminder of your goal. Ask those around you to hold you accountable to the steps you decide to take. Give them permission to prompt you about going to the gym or not taking a smoke break. It might feel “naggy” at first so remember that they are doing you a favor – something you ASKED them to do in order to help you accomplish YOUR goal not theirs.
- What obstacles came up that prevented me from taking action toward this goal?
- Did I start too strong or too weak?
- How long did my determination last before I started giving in to temptations?
- What parts of my daily life helped me meet my goal (supportive family, uninterrupted quiet, active hobby, etc)?
- How can I make the best use of those supports?
- What parts of my daily life hindered my progress (distractions, unsupportive friend, desk job, etc)?
- How can I realistically minimize those hindrances?
- Make a date with yourself. Take out your calendar and schedule time to review your progress a month from now. Do it now. Mark out the time in pen. Regularly checking in on a goal helps you make little course corrections and greatly improves the outcome.
So there you have it. Evaluate, tweak, support, and review. Don’t give up! You can do this.