GOALS – WHEN MOTIVATION RUNS OUT
With the new year upon us, many are thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions. What exactly is a resolution and why are they so important? According to Webster’s Dictionary, resolution comes from the verb resolve meaning: to make a definite and serious decision to do something. This is no light-hearted, passing emotion. This is a serious commitment to act!
Are you thinking about making a healthy resolution this year? Maybe you want to make a commitment to eat better overall. Maybe you want to lose X number of pounds or gain X number of pounds. Maybe you want to finally stop feeling fatigued all the time or you want to get more sleep. Whatever your goal, it is noble and good for you to want to better your health.
But what if you’ve made this goal before? What if you weren’t able to follow-through? Many people think they don’t follow-through with their goals because they lack motivation or they somehow “lost” their motivation.
Have you ever finished a grade in school? Have you ever raised kids and put them through college? Have you ever made plans to meet a friend for lunch and shown up when and where you promised? What if following through on your goals or promises has nothing to do with motivation? Motivation is all about how you feel at a particular moment. What if follow-through has nothing to do with how you are feeling at any time?
When you met your friend for lunch, it happened because you gave your word. When you did the grocery shopping, it happened because you decided to do it, you made a list, you planned to drive to the store after work, and you made it happen. You were resolved. Your commitment becomes your motivation causing action regardless of how “motivated” you feel.
When you decide to do something and then do it, your subconscious mind files it as a success and it contributes to your self-confidence and self-trust. When you make a decision to do something and then fail to do it, your sub-conscious mind files it as a failure. This failure eats away at your self-confidence and your sense of self-trust. Every time you break a promise to yourself, your self-trust erodes just a little more. It’s just the same as if someone else in your life continually breaks promises. You learn not to trust them. You learn to not expect them to follow-through. In fact, you begin to expect them to not deliver on a commitment.
So what if your self-trust has been eroded by breaking big and small commitments to yourself? What if it is so eroded that you immediately roll your eyes at yourself as soon as you make a commitment to better health. While you’re taking a drag from your cigarette, you’re saying to yourself, “I knew you wouldn’t be able to do it. You have no willpower!”
First, I recommend taking baby steps. Make a list every day of 5 small things you want to accomplish. Start with things you would do anyway like taking out the garbage, making breakfast or doing a load of laundry. As you start checking off these small tasks, your subconscious mind will start filing them away as successes. You’ll start looking forward to checking off the tasks as each one will gives you a small boost in confidence. As you rebuild your self trust, you’ll start adding more ambitious tasks like going to bed on time, turning off the t.v. after one hour of viewing, enjoying 4 servings of vegetables, drinking 6 glasses of water. Keeping promises to yourself is not about seeking perfection. It’s about trusting yourself to not be overcome by failures; to get up again when you fall.
Second, limit your time with people who erode your self-trust. These are naysayers who probably don’t trust themselves either. These people like to chip away at your self-esteem and undermine your confidence. They point to your past deficiencies as proof of your inability to succeed. Ask yourself, “Does he support my goals? Does she encourage me to do better?” Avoid those who do not.
Third, work on changing your self-talk. Everyone has those Mean Voices inside their heads. Your head is a dangerous neighborhood. Don’t go up there alone! Make a conscious decision to change your self-talk from self-sabotage to self-love. When you fail to keep a promise to yourself and start to think things like, “You’re such a failure. You can’t follow-through on anything!” catch yourself and replace the negative thought with a positive one like, “It was just a small slip-up. I’ll do better next time” or “That was a big mistake. I’ll learn from it and I love myself anyway.”
Cynthia Wall, psychotherapist and author of The Courage to Trust: A Guide to Building Deep and Lasting Relationships, says, “Trust is the heartbeat of every significant relationship, with yourself as well as with others. In fact, the relationship with yourself is the foundation of all other relationships.” Learning to forgive yourself when you make a mistake makes it easier to forgive others. This has amazing health benefits for your own stress reduction too.
When you start building your self-trust back up again, you can begin to tackle those big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAG). Make sure to break up each goal into a set of smaller, easy-to-measure daily or weekly goals. This way even if you haven’t met your ultimate goal yet, you can check off your successes knowing that each small success is bringing you one step closer to your big success. One step closer to your fulfilling your resolution.
by Merianne Drew, Holistic Health Coach