January is a long old month eh? It’s dark and cold, you’ve spent all your money on Christmas presents and New Year celebrations, so what better time to start new habits and change lifestyles for the better? Truth is that this time of year can be a miserable and depressing time for a lot of people, so once the euphoria of a shiny New Year has died off it can be hard to maintain motivation for change, which is why many New Year resolutions fail after a few days or weeks. Rather than jumping in the deep end with a host of mega life-changing resolutions that are likely doomed to failure, try these tips to influence change to long term habits and behaviours that will make a real difference to you.
Have a goal, not a resolution
We don’t tend to react well to being told to stop doing something, we rebel and think we’re missing out. By setting a realistic, specific, measurable and challenging goal that you believe will make a positive impact on your life, you can buy into the idea and will likely be motivated to pursue the goal once you start. Instead of feeling you’re denying yourself, you will feel you are giving yourself the opportunity to achieve something. Try to set one goal at a time so you can maintain interest and motivation, we often try to change and achieve too much too quickly and become overwhelmed, ending up doing nothing.
Don’t Do it Alone
Find others that have similar goals to share your journey with, whether in person or online, it’s great to share your progress and experiences with others to maintain your motivation and progress. Get advice, coaching or even partners to help you along the way. Nobody can do everything, much as we try, asking for help when your struggling will stop you being overwhelmed by fear in tough times.
Publicise what you are doing, by letting others know it will make you take responsibility for achieving your goal. Give regular updates on your progress, friends and family will help and encourage you.
Write Down and Plan
Nothing becomes real until it’s written down. Write down why you want to achieve your goal and list the positive impacts it could have on your life, you could also list the negative impacts of not achieving your goal.
Schedule to Suit You
Work out which time of the day you are most productive and do you most important tasks in this time period, it could be first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and by important I mean the one thing that can make the biggest difference in moving you closer to your goal. Try to stick to one task at a time and don’t change focus until it’s finished. Saying ‘I haven’t got time’ is like saying ‘I don’t want to’, look at the activities in your day that have no positive impact on your life and cut them, such as scrolling through Facebook for hours.
Keep It Simple
Write down your target goal and break it down into smaller targets, monthly, weekly or daily. Monitor progress, it’s a great motivator to see that you’ve achieved a target. Plan ahead, plan to do 1 thing everyday that will move you closer to your goal, it could be going for a morning run or writing 500 words, keep it simple. Sustained small efforts are the best way to achieving goals.
Action breeds motivation and often starting is the hardest thing, when we get into it we keep going. Once you’ve got your plan and know what you have to do – start, it’s probably the last thing you want to do to go to the gym or start a piece of work but once you start you’ll likely finish and feel great after.
Kill Your Fears
There’s nothing stopping you apart from the fear in your head, and once you start this fear will evaporate quickly as you realise that it isn’t that scary or as bad as you thought. Those old excuses will dry up and you will actually become enthused as you discover the benefits of pursuing your goal. The hardest part of anything is often committing to it, do it today, there’ll never be a perfect time to start.
When you achieve your goal, don’t stop. It’s likely taken weeks, months or even years to achieve your goal, and think about how the journey towards your goal has changed your life and made you happy, why would you want to stop that? Happiness leads to success, not the other way round. By doing the things you want and like to do more often, you will not only achieve goals but will be happier. Sure, celebrate achieving your goal but don’t slip back into unproductive, unhappy bad habits. Set a new goal and continue.