You have given much thought and consideration to the previous ten resolutions and you have decided just what your resolutions for 2010 will be. So now the question is: How do you stay motivated beyond February or March? Researchers’ state it take 90 to 120 days of consistently doing a new behavior, for it to become habituated into your lifestyle. First suggestion is that you not try to do all ten resolutions. For one thing most of you will not need to do all ten, but even if you do don’t try. It is too easy to become overwhelmed if you try to change to many things at one time. Therefore, look back over that list and determine one to three resolutions you will make for the beginning of 2010. Now set those one to three resolutions down on paper and be specific about just what you want to accomplish. Remember that if you really want to reach your goals you will need to consistently make the right choices that will move you towards your goals.
Remember to be realistic about your goals. In order to really stay motivated you need to believe you can actually accomplish your goal. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, it is not realistic to expect to reach that goal in one week. All reliable sources state that a realistic expectation of a healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week. That means that you need to plan on approximately 25-50 weeks to lose that amount of weight. You will also have to make healthy food choices which means you will most likely have to change shopping patterns, meal choices will need to be something other than fast food restaurants every day for lunch. You will also most likely have to increase your level of activity.
After you have established realistic goals begin to work on a timeline to accomplish your goals. Break it down into smaller segments. If your goal is to get organized don’t plan on tackling the whole house at once. Make it a more realistic goal to do one room at a time. Then set a deadline (realistic) for each room.
To help you remain motivated and to keep you focused on your goal create a motivational board. This is a visualization tool that shows where you want to be at when you reach your goals. One good way to make a motivational board is to purchase an inexpensive cork board and attach to it pictures of what you are trying to accomplish. Now that might be clothes that you want to be able to wear when you lose that weight, or how your closets will look if you get organized, or things you will be able to do when you quit smoking. Once you have your goals depicted visually put the board somewhere that you will see it regularly throughout the day. This will serve as a visual reminder. You may want to put some pictures that you have cut out it an area associated with what you want to accomplish, like those pictures of what you will be able to wear on the refrigerator.
When you have accomplished one of those smaller segments towards your goal, reward yourself. This is what psychology calls positive reinforcement or encouragement. You feel good about each accomplishment and that keeps you motivated towards your ultimate goal. This also means that you need to keep track of your progress. If you are going to stop smoking or drinking, get a big calendar and mark off each day that you don’t smoke or drinking by putting a big red “X” across that day. Then reward yourself each week, month, etc. that you don’t smoke or drinking whichever the case may be.
Remember to start slowly. If your goal is to get physically fit begin slowly. If your plan for getting fit is choosing to run don't try to run a mile in one day, if you haven’t been running on a regular basis. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming and in the case of physical exercise can actually be harmful.
Next remember to make it fun. You will not keep doing something you do not enjoy. That is just human nature so make you change a fun activity. Another thing that will help you stay motivated is to seek support and if possible find a buddy to make the change with you. Then you can not only support one another but also keep one another motivated. Be flexible as well. There will be days when you just can’t follow through with a morning run or trip to the gym. There will be days that you just can’t stay on your new eating plan. Give yourself some flexibility.
Lastly don’t give up. If you fall back into old behavior don’t beat yourself up. Recommit to your goals and resume what you were doing to reach your goal. Also to keep those stick-to-it attitudes actually visualize you succeeding. Your motivation board will help some with this but your mental attitude also plays a big part in your ability to succeed. If you think you can you can, and if you think you can’t you can’t.
December 30, 2009