It's already February! Where have your New Year's resolutions gone? If all those health and finance changes you made back in January have long since disappeared, but the desire to make those changes is still there, don't worry. Here are some ways to get back on track.
Start by revisiting the resolutions you made. Were the goals something you really wanted? Or something you thought you should want? It's hard to stay focused and motivated on something you feel meh about. Sit down and do an honest assessment.
So what if you fell off track minutes after New Year's? The thing about life changes is that they can happen any time of the year. When you're ready, get started.
Maybe winter isn't the best time for you to make sudden changes. Winter is often a time for reflection, staying in, eating comfort foods and going to bed early. Use the quiet season to think about your life, set your goals and write your plan. If you want to train for a marathon but can't run outside (and hate driving to the gym), don't give up on the dream. Just wait until spring.
After you've decided on the goals you truly want, next it's time to sit down and ask yourself why you want to hit these goals. If you don't know why you're doing these things, then you know why you fell off track.
As you're filtering out the good resolutions from the bad, and some really important ones begin to surface, that is the time to start deciding what skills you have in order to realize the goal. Are you a great planner, a great listener, patient? Dig down deep and find what about you makes you able to accomplish big new goals.
Come up with a general plan—not only for how you're going to meet these amazing goals, but also how these things plug into the rest of your life. If the goal was to write a novel, how is that full-time job going to knock you off course? If the goal was to exercise daily, will your killer commute undermine that? Once you see your life and these changes as a whole, you'll be able to strategize about how to meet them.
Define your goals by using the SMART principles, whose criteria are commonly attributed to management consultant Peter Drucker. That is, identify the changes you want to make that fit the following categories:
Specific, significant, stretching
Measurable, meaningful, motivational
Achievable, agreed upon, action-oriented, acceptable
Realistic, reasonable, rewarding, relevant
Timely, trackable, time-based, tangible
Make step-by-step plans before trying to meet the goals. When you get overwhelmed or start to falter, you'll have a road map to return to. Take as much of the thinking out of the day-to-day effort to meet your goals. Eventually, the tough stuff will become habit.
While making changes cold turkey works for some, for many of us it's too much all at once. Find a way to ease into the changes you need to make to meet your goals. If it's saving money, don't cut back on everything all at once. If it's diet, taper your calorie intake or carb-cutting, fat-lowering or increase in exercise.
Make sure the end goal is something you really want. And the way you'll need to get there is something you want to do. Better health through exercise? Make sure you like to exercise! Or try out as many types of exercise as necessary until you find one that makes you excited to do it.
Big changes are a shock to the system, and the side effects can be enough to cancel out your motivation. Instead, keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race. Phase in changes, get used to them one by one. You'll stay motivated, and it won't feel so drastic.
Keep your goals front and center! Set up a vision board or visible reminder of what you're trying to achieve. This can be a collage, a sticky note on your keyboard or a daily reminder alert on your phone. Take a few minutes each day to review the goals. Make them a part of your daily landscape.
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