We’ve all done it! The new year is coming. We get excited for it to be the year that we really commit to changing our life with outrageous goals of losing weight, getting more sleep, or eating better…and what happens? By this time, we already fall off track, we lose motivation, and we simply give up.
You might be thinking of your New Year’s Resolutions. Did anyone break their New Year’s Resolution? Raise your hand. Are they one of these?
Time published a list of the top New Year’s Resolutions that people just cannot commit to:
Lose Weight and Get Fit
Learn Something New
Eat Healthier and Diet
Get Out of Debt and Save Money
Spend More Time with Family
Travel to New Places
Be Less Stressed
Barriers to Sticking with Lifestyle Goals
- We reach for the sky when we need to reach in front of us. – Generally, we set our expectations too high – or at least set a goal that is too difficult to be reached in the timeframe – Aggregating over 129 behavior change strategy studies, Dr. Paschal Sheeran, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at The University of North Carolina found that goals are easier to reach if they are specific and rooted in positive thinking. Rather than set a goal of, “I will get more exercise,” set the goal of, “I will walk for 30 minutes every day,” and remain positive. If you do not perform that 30-minute walk, do not let setbacks be followed by negative feelings of guilt or fear, which can discourage moving forward with your goal.
- We do not have a plan for dealing with setbacks. Have a plan! What happens if you miss that 30-minute walk, will you feel guilty and lose motivation to continue? If you have a plan of action for not reaching your short-term goal, you will not be tempted to quit your long-term plan. Turn negative thinking into positive thinking, such as if you do not have time to walk for 30 minutes, you can walk for 15 minutes, or you will practice some yoga at night (which will also give you some stress-relief, as well). Another example is, if you are trying to quit smoking, have a plan for reducing the urge to smoke (for example, keep a bottle of water nearby, chew sugarless gum, or practice deep breathing).
- We lose motivation or do not believe we can do it. Mindset is key to reaching your goals! Motivation is personal and dependent upon several factors: the value you find in your rewards (for reaching your goal), the internal belief that you can change, and willpower. For example, Psychologist Carol Dweck discusses two mindsets – the one is what we are born with, our character and personality, this is the hand you are dealt, but the other is our belief that we can change our basic qualities based on our own efforts – this is what she calls the growth mindset.
This mindset is what we need when setting and sticking to goals. Believing we can change is a powerful motivator. Behavioral Economist, Dan Ariely mentions how by working to reach your goals, your mindset will become more positive, and be even more of a motivator. Just seeing or experiencing the results of your efforts increases your motivation to perform better, or at least keep up the good work. The more difficult something is, the more motivating and rewarding it might be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lleX1tIEG-M&feature=youtu.be – “Changing behaviour – we are more than rational robots: Liam Ryan at TEDxTallaght” by Liam Ryan, LCEO & Cofounder at GetHealth