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Mastering Motivation: 5 Stick-To-Your-Goal Strategies

It’s that time of year, when enthusiasm for the resolutions you were so excited to start is beginning to fade. Resolutions that likely had something to do with your health and fitness. So, we're here to help keep that fire alive, because we've seen how this can go.

We know if you’re feeling this way, you are part of the majority. A quick search will turn up plenty of articles that discuss how most people give up on resolutions before Valentines Day.

For instance, a 2020 article in Inc. magazine spelled it out right in the title: “A Study of 800 Million Activities Predicts Most New Year’s Resolutions Will Be Abandoned on January 19.” The article states, “Approximately 80 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions have dropped them by the second week of February.”

That, however, isn’t going to be you. And to help ensure that, here are five strategies to keep your motivation for achieving your goals strong.

1. Adjust Your Goals If You Feel Defeated

If you are feeling defeated, it’s a pretty clear sign that your goal is too lofty as your first step. That last part is the important part: this isn’t to say you shouldn’t have lofty goals, but if a huge ultimate goal is the only measure of success, it’s going to be tremendously difficult to stay gung-ho.

You need smaller successes along the way. Break down your lofty goal into pieces that you can meet relatively easily and frequently. Make your goals as small and easy as they need to be so that you’ll actually do them. Then, each day or week, take a moment to acknowledge the progress you've made; give yourself a pat on the back: You did it.

Meeting these little goals may feel small to begin with, but each step along the path, however small it may be, moves you a little closer to your ultimate goal. All those little successes add up.

2. Get Some Perspective

When you are in the middle of going after a goal, each step may not feel particularly important. You may reach that “why bother?” moment where it feels like you could just put off efforts today and that it really wouldn’t make a difference.

In that case, it’s time to get some perspective and recognize that each step does make a difference. Think about the larger goal that you’re trying to achieve and recognize that your efforts yesterday, today, and tomorrow are how you’ll get there. (This was something we also discussed in our post: An Ode to Reps: Why to Love Your Gym Workouts.)

Even the act of learning how to overcome your “why bother?” attitude is an important “muscle” to build. The more you learn how to overcome your motivational lulls, the easier they are to overcome.

3. Goals Are Easier With Friends

Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin discovered through her research that people’s personalities fall into one of four categories, or as she calls it the four tendencies. These tendencies say a lot about how we are motivated. And most people are motivated by having to be accountable to someone else. (We touched on this in the post It’s Better With Friends: The Importance of a Fitness Community)

For many of us, we’re actually more likely to show up for another person than we are to show up for ourselves. So let’s use that to our advantage and find an accountability partner or group.

You don’t even need to have the same goals. Just the act of checking in and sharing support can be tremendously helpful. That said, however, working on similar goals with others will help give you an extra boost. It’s also an opportunity to learn from each other.

4. Acknowledge that Life Happens and Burnout is Real

There will be days when things just are not going your way or you're just slogging through. And on days when things are just too much, it is A-OK to drop your goal, for the moment. In fact, it’s more than A-OK, it’s likely the only way your going to stick with your goal over the long haul.

Burnout happens and life throws your curveballs, and the path to achieving any goal is not straight. There will be bumps along the way, and your ability to navigate those bumps without beating yourself up is really important. Rest, recuperation, recharging–these are really important aspects of any goal-achieving strategy.

Too many times, people get it in their head that one misstep is a reason to throw in the towel. But then where does that get you? Instead, know that there will be missteps, and then get back to it the next day.

5. Build a Determined Mindset Around Your “Why”

Let’s face it, there are some times when you need to just call on some sheer determination to get you going. You need to give yourself some tough love and just get it done.

In those times, it is really important to remember your “why.” Why did you set this goal in the first place? What made this something that seemed important enough for you to dedicate your time and effort to trying to achieve it.

Don’t have a why? Create one. Find the reason that’s going to get you doing what you said you wanted to do on those days when you really, really don’t want to do it.

You’ve Got This

Achieving goals isn’t easy, but that’s what makes them so satisfying when you are finally able to reach them. Certainly the most rewarding accomplishments are the most challenging to achieve. In hand, even the process of figuring out how to achieve challenging goals is a growth opportunity all its own.

So relish in the challenge. Take notes along the way. And remember to celebrate big when you achieve what you set out for.

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