It’s that time of year when making New Years resolutions reflect our hopes and inspiration for positive changes. The motivation to stick to your New Years resolutions needs to be actively managed. Whether you want to take control in some area of your life like health, finances or work and life balance, or you want to embrace new beginnings in some way, even the strongest resolve can quickly fall away if you do not have the right conditions supporting your success. Sometimes we give up on our new resolutions very easily, while other times we struggle on while gradually losing ground.
When you first made your New Year resolutions you were probably filled with a delicious sense of purpose and determination. The desire and initial commitment can feel very strong and compelling. We can truly want whatever changes we have promised ourselves. No doubt you know many people who keep choosing the same goals for change, like losing weight or saving more money or being a better person in some way. We keep the hope alive that this time it will be different. This time we really will see it through!
So what stops us from sticking to our New Years resolutions to make the changes we want to make? There are many forces at work, however the master key that unlocks our ability to see things through, is motivation. We need the right motivation, as well as sufficient motivation to do what it takes for as long as it takes to achieve our goals and outcomes.
Motivation is a powerful and magnificent force. When we successfully harness the power of motivation we can achieve just about anything, including what seems miraculous. I love being inspired by the Readers Digest stories about the extraordinary achievements of countless ordinary people in seemingly impossible situations. These stories explode our limitations around what is possible when we are sufficiently motivated. As any coach, team leader, teacher or parent knows, without the right motivation we can achieve very little.
The first step to harnessing the immeasurable power of motivation is to understand your own motivation and the various individual factors that impact your motivation. What motivates one person may be demotivating for another. For example if the goal is weight loss, then weighing yourself every day may be motivating for one person but demotivating for someone else.
- Begin with making a list of all the things that motivate you. For example do you stay motivated if you have a clear plan or a regular routine or a vision board to keep you inspired? Maybe you need the support of another person. Reflect on other times in your life when you have been able to keep your motivation strong. What worked for you?
- Make a second list of everything that has the power to de-motivate you. For example do you lose motivation if it seems too hard, or you are too tired or stressed or overwhelmed with a busy daily life? What are you telling yourself when you feel like giving up? Do you lack a clear and specific goal or set of subgoals? Do you put pressure on yourself with an unrealistic timeframe?
- When you are clear about what motivates you and what demotivates you, focus on setting yourself up for success by increasing those things that motivate you and reducing or eliminating those things that de-motivate you. For example, if you intend to lose weight keep your home free of temptation. Two useful strategies are to avoid shopping when you are hungry and only buy what is on your shopping list. If you want to reach a savings target, put your savings in a seperate account as soon as you are paid and work out a clear budget.
- It is wise to be selective about who you share your goals with and avoid sharing with people who are negative or likely to demotivate you in some way. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
- Cognitive factors play a critical role in whether or not you are able to keep your motivation strong. What do you tell yourself? What do you believe and expect? Do you believe it is possible to achieve the changes you desire?
- Intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside yourself, sourced in your own desires, needs, values and intentions. Extrinsic motivation comes from some external source such as pursuing a goal in order to avoid punishment or to please another person in some way. Get clear about what you really want for yourself and your reasons for wanting these changes.
- Aim to set achievable targets and sub-goals. Motivation can easily be eroded if you are have set truly unrealistic goals or strategies, like expecting yourself to run 5 kilometers every morning if you don’t enjoy running or you don’t like waking early!
Success and staying motivated to achieve the changes and goals you desire comes from setting yourself up for success.
Check back for more posts on motivation soon to be published.