How many of us made a promise last year at the same time to have an amazing 2011? Maybe you promised to get fit, lose weight, spend more time with your family, eat healthier, follow your passion or just get active? How did you do? It's that time of year again to start making goals and getting inspired for 2012. Here are some tips to get you in the right frame of mind and set yourself up for success so that when you are sitting there next year before Christmas you can be proud of all you accomplished.
The home run you hit in last week doesn't count in tonight's game! Whatever you did this year good or bad can't effect what you do this year. If you had an amazing opportunity or good fortune came your way, you can only ride that for so long before the momentum dies and you have to move forward under your own steam. The same goes for traumatic events. Only the emotions that you hang on to tied to an event, person or situation can hold you back. You have to let go of the baggage and open your heart so you can move into this year ready to take on new challenges and opportunities. Try writing down the emotions or situations you want to let go of and burn the paper, safely of course :-). This is a very common releasing ritual for many cultures and those of you who have ever had a bad breakup!
Get clear about what you want. Writing down goals that reflect what is really important to you helps you to get clear and focused. Write them on a note card or paper that you can look at every day to stay motivated. Be as specific a possible on what is looks, feels and smells like. Another great way to do this is by creating a vision board which is a visual representation of your goals for the New Year. When you are clear on what you want it is easier to see the opportunities that can help get you there.
Get motivated! One of the biggest reasons people slack off after a few months is because they lose motivation. When you are motivated by surface reasons or by what other people tell you, it doesn't sustain you. Lasting change is sustained by being deeply connected to the reasons why you are trying to do something. Spend a few minutes thinking about what will change in your life if you do nothing. Where will you be this time next year if you don't change a thing and keep doing what you are doing now? What will happen if you reach even just one of your goals? How will life be different? Who in your life is affected by the choices you make? If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? Yes it's heavy stuff but soon you realize that you have small to huge impacts on every person you interact with on a daily basis. This is your quality of life, this is your motivation! It's the kind of thinking that produces a response in your gut. It evokes an emotional response. The stronger that response, the more motivating it can be to make a change. Write down those reasons next to your goals and review them every day. Yes your motivations can change but keeping them at the forefront of your mind keeps you from falling into old patterns.
Make a plan! Once you have a few goals clearly defined, start brainstorming on possible paths or steps you can take that will help get you there. Then decide on some simple SMART goals. Start simple and small. Take things one step at a time. By focusing on one small goal you are more likely to succeed then you can tackle the next one. Start with your water intake. Once you have really tackled drinking lots of water every day for a couple of weeks then move on to walking. Start with just 10 minutes a day then increase every week by a couple of minutes. Each step forward makes a difference.
Contingencies! If there is one thing on life that you can count on it's the unexpected. You are going to be thrown curve balls and smacked upside the head with the proverbial 2x4 every once and a while so you might as well make some plans to deal with it when it happens. Think through some possible scenarios related to your goal that could be where all goes wrong. Maybe you are working on nutrition and you end up at a family holiday party sponsored by the Flying Cup Cake? How are you going to handle it? What if you are trying to stop smoking and your best friend invites you out and you end up at a bar that has smoking? Yes in Indiana there are still bars you can smoke in. Are you going to leave, stay or tackle the first smoker you see and steal their cigarette? You can't plan for everything but you can problem solve some issues before they come up and make a better choice.
Give yourself a break! Life is never perfect and it is never a straight line; it is full of twists and turns, ups and downs. So if you stumbled a little today, get right back on the horse and keep moving forward. Don't tell yourself "Well I screwed up already, might as well have fun and start again on Monday!" If you keep doing that you never get anywhere. Take things moment by moment and get right back up and make better choices in the next moment. No one ever got anywhere by beating themselves up, though we all do it. Be gentle and tell yourself that it isn't failure; it is a lesson to be learned. So ask yourself what the lesson is and move on.
Here is wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and amazing new year!