What do we do each January 1st? We think about New Year’s Resolutions–hobbies we would like to pick up, physical feats we would like to accomplish, places we would like to travel… Some we achieve, some we abandon, and others we half-attempt and get mediocre results. If we want to make serious changes in our lives, build confidence, and grow as individuals, we need to have a plan. Without a clear endpoint in mind, we are wandering aimlessly. A plan allows us to proactively create our destiny, and our goals serve as the springboard.
Last year I wrote about the ins and outs of setting resolutions. Most of us are familiar with the process of setting goals; if you need a refresher course, check out the references included below.. Having or setting goals is not the hard part, though. The hard part is following through with and reaching our goals. We have all had a goal that went unreached for whatever reason. I want to focus this post on what we can do to stay motivated to reach our goals in 2019.
How can we stay motivated to reach our goals? To quote Zoolander, “What do we do when we fall off the horse? …We get back on!” I have two simple suggestions that will help us pick ourselves up and get back to work WHEN we may fall short of our goals:
- TRACK PROCESS, NOT PROGRESS. This is an interesting yet intentional combination of words. Have you ever gotten fixated with the before and after pictures of home renovations or of physical transformations? What these pictures do not show is the vast amount of time and effort that went into achieving those results. We must remember that progress is a process. Growth and improvement takes time! We are growing accustomed to thinking we should have a six pack after a week of clean eating or exercising. The truth is that progress takes much, much longer than we like or expect. Instead of obsessing over results, we need to track how many times we did what we said we were going to do. How many times did we get to the gym? How many times did we bring a healthy lunch to work? How much money have we put into savings? If we keep doing what we said we were going to do–going to the gym, eating better, spending carefully–we will inevitably get closer to where we ultimately want to be.
- PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION. Beating ourselves up for our mistakes and punishing ourselves for not reaching our goals will nearly always backfire. This promotes shame, which is limiting and uninspiring. When we are too tough on ourselves we actually hinder our ability to perform. Multiple studies (see references below) show that treating ourselves with more kindness is the best way to gain better results. Those who practice self-compassion are more likely to achieve their goals because they realize that mistakes are bound to happen, but that does not mean they should give up. As we implement more self-compassion into our daily walk and talk, we will find greater happiness, confidence, and progress as we reach our goals. (Look out for a post on self-compassion at the end of this month!)
Those who succeed in achieving their dreams always have one common characteristic: They never give up. This persistence is a mindset we can establish from the beginning and nurture throughout the journey of working towards our goals. Yes, we may fall down or fall short, but we cannot allow that to let us lose sight of what we are working towards. When we are tempted to give up on our goals, let’s remember to enjoy the PROCESS, and to practice a little more self-compassion. Just remember that every day is a great day to try again. Let 2019 be your year!
Something I love about the New Year is that it gives us courage to change. New Year’s Resolutions are revitalizing and we often find a great deal of motivation to do the hard things we may have been putting off. If current addiction issues, unresolved trauma, or a strained relationship is not allowing you to make the changes you want to make, please do not hesitate to contact me today with questions and/or schedule a session with me. I absolutely love what I do, and have years of experience as a trained, qualified therapist. Please come see me this year and allow me to help you make 2019 your year!
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
- American Psychological Association: “Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick”
- Cluff Counseling: “#RelationshipGoals”
- Cluff Counseling: “Are You Searching for Fulfillment?”
- Cluff Counseling: “‘Bookending’ Your Day With Morning and Evening Routines”
- Cluff Counseling: “Bucket Lists: A Powerful Form of Self-Care”
- Cluff Counseling :“Choosing the Right Therapist for You”
- Cluff Counseling: “Fork Your Way Into a Healthy 2018!”
- Cluff Counseling: “Making 2018 Your Year: Resolutions”
- Cluff Counseling: “Measuring Your Success”
- Forbes: “How To Set Goals (And Why You Should Write Them Down)”
- Forbes: “A Psychologist’s Secrets To Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick”
- Forbes: “Science Explains The Link Between Self-Compassion And Success”
- Guru Habits: “How to Never Give Up On Your Goals”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Seven steps for making your New Year’s resolutions stick”
- Huffington Post: “10 Ways to Avoid Quitting on Your Goals and Dreams”
- Huffington Post: “How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science)”
- LifeHack: “7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping it”
- She Hit Refresh: “Revisit and Refresh Your 2018 Goals”
- Sid Savara: “Why 3% of Harvard MBAs Make Ten Times as Much as the Other 97% Combined”
- Stitch and Shutter: “Can You Believe This Goal-Setting Statistic?”
- Yes and You: “How to Not Give Up When You ‘Screw Up’ On Your Goals”