17 January 2014

10 Ways To Stay Positive About Goals & Resolutions

I like many other people have set some goals or New Year's Resolutions for 2014. I have been working really hard on a few of them, knowing that if I really want to achieve them, they will take dedicated effort and a lot of time. These are the goals that will take six to twelve months to accomplish, maybe even longer.

And like many people, a few weeks into some of my goals, that I've been working really hard on, I feel like I'm suffering for my goals. I'm pushing myself as hard as I can - in a good way - I don't mean overdoing it, I just mean not letting myself quit at the first sign of it not being fun. I see tiny increments of change, but when I'm dead tired at the end of the day and I look at all I have ahead of me, it sure can feel a little hopeless.

I have definitely been feeling a little bit of the New Year's Resolution Blues this week. I would assume that is pretty normal for most resolution setters by mid-January. For me it's been a week of highs and lows. I have been very dedicated the past two weeks. I like the routine I've gotten into, I like how it's feeling and what I'm getting done. I have kicked arse. Some parts of the day I am feeling energized, super excited and am cheering myself on like a crazy woman. But when I get tired, stop working for the day or am about to get into bed I just start feeling a little bummed out about it all and as if things will never come together. Aching muscles mock me. Tiredness makes me a little impatient and quicker to be grumpy.

I decided I need to take stock in these emotions and explore them so I can understand myself better, keep myself motivated and continue to move forward. Last night I let myself really sit with my blues and be okay with them in any way that I could. At the same time I held fast to my convictions that I'm not going to quit on my goals, that I'm not going to stop. I've already done too many hard things for too many hours to stop and have to start over now. Never going back to the beginning. Just can't do that.

I realized that part of my blues are acknowledging things I haven't done in the past (that I wish I had done) that would've put me closer to these goals. Moments when I lacked boldness. I'm also mourning actions that I chose that took me farther away from my goals instead of closer. Moments of utter stupidity. I'm mourning time lost, efforts wasted by lack of commitment and walls I didn't break down sooner. When I step back and look at the big picture I can see that this is all part of my life lessons and learning but when they are sometimes painful lessons you really have to kick yourself for having made it MORE painful. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

So maybe this is the blessing of the blues. An opportunity to sit and see things are they have been, as they are and as you hope them to be. I guess there is part of me that needs to offer myself an apology and also to forgive myself for mistakes of the past. After all they have been most damaging to me, not to anyone else. I've also learned this year that I am my best cheerleader. No one knows me and wants me to succeed more than me. I know how to talk to myself and what encourages me. So I have that going for me.

While I processed my blues I started thinking about what I could do to keep myself afloat and paddling forward towards my goals, dreams, resolutions...whatever you want to call them. I guess the real direction is to the authentic me. Here are ten ideas I came up with to keep myself positive about my goals and resolutions.

1) Set a variety of resolutions, some short-term and some long-term. Then you can feel a sense of accomplishment on the easier resolutions to fuel you to keep going on the more challenging ones.

2) Build an arsenal of support. If you feel comfortable with it, share your goal with a friend and check in with them regularly. They will provide understanding and be great cheerleaders as you keep on working towards your goals. I do this, a barnstorm/brainstorm on a near weekly basis with a good friend. We try to check in every Monday morning, review the week, share successes and frustrations and then leave each other with a good bit of encouragement at the end. It's a fantastic gift to my life which I really treasure! You can also join a workout, writers, artists, readers or parents club to create a supportive community around you.

3) Grab a journal and write about your experience. Be sure to write about all the high points of your journey and use the journal as a tool to explore your frustrations and low points too. It's a great way to keep a record of how it went that you can refer back to in the future when working on other goals. It will also help you remember that things can get frustrating but if you keep working at it you will see great progress and reach your goals. This is my favorite journal style because I can easily rip out pages which I find necessary at times.

4) Find sources of personal inspiration. This might be motivational sayings on Pinterest. It could be magazine articles about people who've been successful at what you are aiming for. A vision board might be just what you need to give you visual inspiration to see yoru way each day. I love Louise L. Hay's Power Thought Cards.There are some great books out there about making time for your life and your dreams like Cheryl Richardson's Take Time For Your Life. You can also find lots of good online meditations about making dreams come true. Whatever works best for you is just what you need.

5) Set up small rewards for yourself as you reach incremental steps. Take yourself to lunch when you finish the first draft of that book. When you lose your first 10 pounds buy yourself a new workout top. Plan something fabulous for yourself for the day you reach your ultimate goal. I have used redeeming a gift card, a trip to a favorite inspiring store or museum, and a phone call with a friend as treats for myself after accomplishing incremental goals.

6)  Write a letter or record a mantra to yourself for discouraging days. Remind yourself why this goal is so important to you and what you imagine will bring you joy during the process and at the end of the road. Cheer yourself on, comfort yourself for those days you want to quit.  Speak words of strength and encouragement to your heart. Your words will embolden you very powerfully as you hear a very familiar voice buoy you up. I wrote about how to create an easy meditation for yourself here. See yourself in your heart and mind at the finish line.

7) Pace yourself and find a way to take a break if needed. This doesn't mean stop working on your goal, but know when you need to step away so that you can refresh yourself. This may mean taking a 10 minute break every hour that you work, or scheduling work on your goal for three days a week instead of six. Without giving up on your goal, find a way for it to be less oppressive to you. Some days that may mean powering through a particularly frustrating part of your path, other times it may mean stepping away with a clear plan about when and how you will return.

8) Keep moving forward. One of the major forms of resolution discouragement is lack of attention to our resolutions. If you're not working on them you won't get any sense of accomplishment, right? Make a plan, stick with it and alter it as necessary to allow you to keep working and keep progressing. Even in tiny bites it's still possible to eat an elephant.

9) Revisit past successes. Looking back at big things we've accomplished in the past gives us the faith that we can continue to do things that challenge us. I recently took stock in things I had accomplished that allowed me to be where I am today and gave me the skills to thrive now. This gave me a lot of positive reinforcement that I am ready for this time of my life and have all the abilities necessary for me to happily grow in my life.

10) Document Your Success. Take photos of your progress. Create a spot in your work space where you can see these images every day. Write yourself a "way to go" note on days when you are particularly on fire and post it where you can see it. Realizing how far you've come will make the road ahead seem less daunting and help you to see that there is indeed road behind you that you have already effectively traversed.

If you set resolutions and are feeling the blues, I hope there is something here that might inspire you to stay motivated about your goals. I am going to try a few of these myself. I am already journaling. I'll let you know how it goes and share more about my path to resolution accomplishment as the year goes on.

 Do you set resolutions? Do you find it hard to stay motivated? What have you done to keep your energies up to keep working towards your goals?

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