So, you have decided that the dawn of the new year is the perfect occasion to put an end to postponing, overcome your fears and make a promise for a change. Well done! Now let's see how you can keep it easier and actually achieve your goal.
It's not too late to sit down and have a close look at your promise. Start with your motivation:
Are you doing this because you are convinced that that's the way to go or because someone else expects you to? Do you genuinely feel that your goals will benefit you?
Are your goals achievable?
Do you have an idea of the hardships you will meet on your way and can you accept them?
If yes, great, you have set realistic goals.
If not, maybe it's time to re-design them. If you cannot fully identify with your goals, you'll be much more tempted to give up. If your partner or friends keep criticizing your shape but honestly, you have no problem with it and your GP doesn't worry either–maybe it's some of them that you should ditch, not a few kilos. ;)
If the challenge is objectively too big, you will quickly feel overwhelmed and too weak to keep up with it. Did you promise your partner to give up cigarettes from one day to the other without any pharmaceutical or psychological help at all? Do you think that 'otherwise it's not real' or 'that's how a man does it'? Well, if you want to try all alone, go ahead. It's very brave and you may well succeed. But don't be ashamed to take one step back or to use the tools that are there are for you to make it easier. Failing because of being too proud is much worse than achieving something smaller than what you originally had in mind or achieving it with help.
If you are not aware of the foreseeable hardships and don't feel ready to overcome them, you will set yourself up for a failure from the start. Don't bury your head in the sand: be aware of the difficulties you will encounter and prepare for them. Again, if your goals are not realistic–like going to the gym five times a week–, adjust them to make them attainable–leave some days for your body to recover, your motivation to revive and your mind to refresh with other activities: and go only 2-3 times a week. Your family and friends will also be grateful and readier to support you if you do not neglect them.
Alright, goals set, what comes next? Plan the way to achieving them. Give a deadline to yourself, then break down the actions leading there to smaller milestones.
Best is to do this with a friend and/or an expert in the field. They will be able to remind you if you are unrealistic in your planning, they know your weaknesses or the problems people in your situation face in general and can ask you questions you might not necessarily think of.
For example, you want to lose weight and having read about the topic, you have found that losing 0.5-1 kilo per week 'is the safest, surest way to ensure that the weight loss does not come back' (Healthy Weight Forum). The people with whom you discuss your plan can help you find out:
how much calories you need to burn per day to achieve this result
how much and what kind of exercise will burn that amount of calories
what kind of diet you should aim at
how your plan looks like week by week
what your reward will be if you stick to the plan
what punishment you should bear if you don't.
Talking about your plan will also increase your confidence that you can manage and will bind you stronger to your commitment since you have to face these people later and show them if you have walked your talk or not. If you are planning with a friend, they can also remind you not to be overly serious. Find ways together for you to achieve your goal that you will enjoy: for example, going hiking, taking up a dance class or going to play badminton together instead of running alone on the treadmill for getting fitter. Agree with your friend that they can tease you with this or that if you miss a training or make them promise that you go and watch your favourite movie together (the one that s/he would otherwise never accompany you to) if you accomplish a milestone.
Make it interesting, make it fun, make it something to look forward to. :)
Stick to it
The hardest part. Yes, those hardships will show themselves. There will be moments when you will crave the things you want to phase out from your diet or that you want to eventually give up, like cigarettes. When you will wish the gym would turn out to have been burnt down during the night. When your friends or boyfriend will also not be too handy and suggest and that snuggling up on the couch watching a movie while eating popcorn is so much more fun than going out to the rain for a run.
Let them be. You knew this would come. But there are so many things you can do to shake off the temptation:
Remember your initial motivation, the benefits of the result you want to achieve.
Recall the rewards and punishments you invented.
Invent an exceptional reward in case you manage to resist an exceptional craving.
Think of everyone, including yourself, whom you don't want to let down.
Imagine the new you who will be proud of having overcome the hardships.
Talk to your friend or the expert with whom you prepared your plan.
Ask a friend to stand by you and distract your attention until the worst craving is over (according to Medical News Today, food cravings last only for 3-5 minutes–what's that for a friend who has green light to tease you? ;)) or to occasionally train with you when you really-really don't feel like going to that class alone.
For keeping your motivation high in general, try to make the steps to reach your goal as much fun as possible–either by designing them like that from the beginning or by inventing something according to your mood for every occasion.
Measure and note all the small steps you have taken. Keep a diary, check the days and weeks in your calendar when you managed to reach your target or draw a line on the wall growing with your run streak.
Be consequent with your rewards and punishments. Mindfully enjoy what you have achieved and try to face your failures objectively. Know that everyone fails now and then and be aware that failures are temporary, and it is only up to you to turn them into success.
Feeling better armed for the challenges now? Great! This article will be here to help restoring your motivation you when you need it.
Want to share your goals with us? Write a comment below, we will be happy to read it.
Got stuck? Don't hesitate to drop by at our store to talk to one of our instructors. We might give you an idea or the extra push to move forward with your plan.
And now, go and start doing!