You’ve embraced those new year vibes and set yourself some resolutions. This year, you’re going to be your best self! You’ve made your plan, set it into motion, and are driven by a newfound determination. Until, that is, doubts, lethargy and lack of motivation rear their heads. Suddenly, it all starts to feel like a bit of an effort, your interest wanes and that initial drive is nowhere to be found. Before we know it, the resolution is forgotten and we’re nowhere further than last year.
We’ve probably all been there, and are familiar with that sinking feeling as the initial excitement wears off. Yet, there are also those who manage to stick with it and achieve their resolution goals.
How can we avoid quitting when we want so much to improve? Here are some tips to help you understand why you lose your motivation, and what to do about it:
1 – The planning is more fun than the doing
Sitting alone with a fresh notebook and making plans for the future can be an exciting time. The new year is full of possibilities and everything seems possible. The only limitation is within your imagination! Perhaps you picture yourself completing that early morning run, day after day, refreshed and invigorated, chalking up an achievement before the day even gets going.
Fast forward to a cold, dark, wet winter morning, it all seems a little more daunting and less enjoyable when it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. It can be easy to excuse yourself for a morning or two … until weeks have gone by and you can’t remember the last time you got up early to run.
Be realistic. Identify the circumstances where you’re likely to make excuses and plan ahead to minimise these. If you despise getting out of bed already, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll do so even earlier to exercise. Instead, plan to run during lunch or after work. If you dislike cold weather, opt to run indoors on a treadmill at home or at a gym. Alternatively, pick a different activity altogether.
2 – You lose sight of the goal
It’s easy to lose sight of the goal when you can’t see big improvements. Remind yourself of the prize at the end of your journey. Visualise how it’s going to be when you’ve reached your goal and celebrate the improvements that you’ve already made, even if they are small. You should feel an immediate boost of motivation.
3 – The goal isn’t right for you
Many of us choose goals that are acceptable to the world at large. It might be buying a huge house, achieving a certain body shape, or earning a larger salary. If you’re struggling, ask yourself if the goal is truly matched to your desires or temperament. For example, if you strive towards a well-paying career that bores you, instead of a lesser-paying role that you know you’ll be fulfilled by, consider what you will lose as well as what you’ll gain. Is it worth it? Ensure that you’ve chosen goals that match your interests, desires, and abilities. Be true to yourself.
4 – You feel uncomfortable
It’s uncomfortable doing anything new. Whether it’s creating a new income stream, beginning a workout routine, or a new diet, starting out is invariably uncomfortable. You might not feel confident in your ability, it might be unfamiliar territory, or it might just be hard work. It’s important to deal with this discomfort effectively and not give in.
Expect to feel uncomfortable. Refer to point one in this article and ensure you don’t give yourself easy excuses when the going gets tough. Stick with it as consistency is usually the key to things getting easier.
5 – You are convinced by negative thoughts
Negative thoughts will make you rationalize that you should quit. They will tell you the changes you are making are too hard, you’re not cut out for it, it would be best to quit now. Though it doesn’t always feel like you have control over your thoughts, you do! You choose what you want to think about.
Take control of your thoughts. Catch yourself early in the process of thinking negative thoughts and redirect your focus to something more positive. It takes time to develop this ability. The key is to notice quickly that your thoughts are going off the rails and act against this immediately.
6 – Your old habits are in control
The older you are, the more challenging it can be to break out of your old patterns. There is comfort in our old routines, and our brains become hardwired to repeat them. You’ll need to create new habits and routines if you want to change your behaviour and your results.
Keep it simple: identify one habit that is getting in your way and one habit you need to create to attain your goals. Put your time and energy into dealing with these two items. When you’re successful, tackle two more.
Do any of these reasons for giving up on a resolution sound familiar? Have you identified why you fail to sustain motivation?
Expect that your motivation will falter at some point and be prepared to deal with it. After all, it happens to everyone. Be proactive when your drive wanes. Identify the reasons why and work towards improving them. Focus on creating habits that will take you to your goals, because habits reduce the need for motivation and willpower. Good luck.