Perhaps like most of the world, you felt great optimism and excitement about what you might accomplish in 2019. You set some goals for yourself, bought a shiny new planner, became a member at your local gym, and even added some inspiring podcasts to your daily carpool. You decided that THIS was the year. This was the year you’d drink more water, run that marathon, finish that book, and embrace a generally more positive outlook on life. And now, here we are, a few months into the year, and the temptation to throw in the towel on those well-intentioned goals feels all too familiar. It might be a new year, but we’re met with the same old question: how do we stay motivated when our goals feel hard?
You’re not alone. It’s normal to feel unmotivated, discouraged by lack of progress, intimidated by the drive in others, and unsure about how to move forward. I’ve certainly felt this, and don’t consider myself an expert in staying on track. But I can tell you I’ve learned a lot about what it looks like to stay motivated, and that more often than not, it’s about taking small, diligent steps in the direction you want to go.
When it comes to accomplishing our goals, there is no quick fix, but oh don’t we wish there was?! Instead, staying motivated is made up of daily, unglamorous, and usually unseen moments of discipline and commitment.
I’ve learned that if we wait to “feel” like doing what we want to do, we will rarely do it. The trick is, not waiting for a feeling, not stopping to think about it, but just doing it! Push your body to do what your mind isn’t ready to do…whether that’s driving to the gym, eating those veggies, or turning your phone off! It is simply easier to act our way into a feeling, than to feel our way into an action. You’ll rarely feel like doing what is good for you, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing! The more you do this, the quicker your goals will become parts of daily life, just like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes.
People often ask me, “Terry, how do you do it all?” First of all, I don’t! Let’s not be too quick to assume that everyone has it more together than we do! I can lose steam just like the rest of us! What I have decided is to prioritize a certain group of habits and relationships, making it easier for me to show up for those things with my full self. My yearly goals will always connect to those main priorities, because anything else is just a distraction.
My main priorities include:
These are the pillars that make up my day to day life, the things that matter most to me, so these are the umbrellas under which my yearly goals live! Think about your goals for the year…do they connect to your priorities? They don’t have to be big or impressive to improve your life and move you forward. Perhaps one of your priorities is your family, and so one of your goals for the year is making meal time together more consistent. If this is your goal, how will you get there? Meal times require prep and planning, so not only does your goal need to connect to your priorities, but your goal needs measurable, daily action to ever become reality! Think of the old adage…”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
The only way you will stay motivated when your goals feel impossible is to stay focused, and take it one day and one decision at a time. Look up a meal planning strategy, go grocery shopping, give yourself time to learn, and then call everyone to gather around that table! Did you make a regrettable decision yesterday that put you behind? Today is a new day! Tie up your laces and get back out there! Try again! That is the difference between you and the person who decides to quit halfway through the year…the daily decision to keep going.
A few disciplines I’ve found to be immensely valuable for me are meal prepping for the week and getting in a daily workout at my local Crossfit gym. These are disciplines I’ve cultivated for years, but if I’m not careful, I can quickly fall off the bandwagon! So how do I stick with these things? Beyond the daily decision to push myself beyond my feelings or obstacles, I’ve also found it extremely helpful to keep it exciting and surround myself with likeminded people. The simple act of buying a new cookbook, adding a new kitchen tool to my routine (enter: The Food Saver, my newest obsession that saves me so much money and time!), or following a few new accounts on Instagram will keep the discipline of food prep creative and fun!
Having family and friends who value health and fitness is another thing that keeps me motivated when my goals feel too tough to accomplish on my own. You don’t have to look far to find people who will misunderstand or discourage your goals, so it’s important to only receive input, ideas, and encouragement from those who value the same things you do! Not everyone has to get it for it to be good for you, but hold the people who get it close! These are the people you text or reach out to when the goal feels impossible, because they will tell you that it isn’t and you ARE capable of accomplishing all that you imagine.
At the end of the day, no amount of inspiring self-help tips will get us out the door. Daily discipline is something we must PRIORITIZE to become disciplined people, and it’s the disciplined who get stuff done! So keep showing up…you don’t have to spend a lot of money, make a lot of noise, or do a million things in 2019 to live your best life. It is the small act of picking yourself back up and telling yourself, “I can!” that will make all the difference. Here’s to your best year yet!
How do you stay motivated to pursue your goals? What are some of your intentions for this year? I’d love to hear, so share in the comments! Until next time, Terry