Beginning a new year can be tricky. Many of us start the year with such hope and determination. "This is going to be my BEST year ever!" Then a couple months in, life happens—and before we know it we're back to our old ways. But wait! Don't give up!
If you are one of those individuals that always accomplishes your every goal—congrats! (How do you do it? I'm constantly trying! With four kids and all their daily demands sucking the life out of me on a regular basis, I often struggle. But really, awesome for you! There's no need for you to continue reading.) But if you're like me and find yourself needing a pep talk every now and then, here we go.
I've spent tons of time researching what keeps us motivated and happy, and how we can develop positive habits. What have I discovered?
The No. 1 way to stay motivated and kick some resolution behind is? Seeing progress. When you see results in what you are doing, you increase your chances of staying motivated for a longer period, therefore accomplishing your goals. Often, the reason we fail to accomplish our goals is because we're trying to do too much at once. (That statement totally applied to me! I succeeded when I focused on ONE thing.)
An example: A few years ago, I read numerous books on healthy eating. I quickly became overwhelmed by everything I was supposed to be doing—or not doing—and I decided I needed to start somewhere andpick ONE healthy habit.
It was obvious that healthy individuals often eat a more plant-based diet. So, I decided that I would eat a salad-a-day. It was simple. It could either be for lunch or dinner, and once I started I honestly never looked back. All the clichés applied: I began to feel better, had more energy, and lost 7 pounds. (The magic is when you incorporate one positive habit, often others follow.) I'll beat myself up for this and that, but the salad-a-day thing is one area where I'm still proud of myself—and it's been three years!
Tips for Creating Positive Habits and Staying Motivated
As stated previously, when you try to change many things at once, you set yourself up for failure. We are creatures of habit, wired to do what we've always done—too much change and "overwhelm" sets in. Narrow down your goal and write it down.
2. Set a reminder.
Encode your new behavior into something you already do. A great way to succeed is to set up a visible reminder and link the new habit with your current behavior. A trigger makes the change much easier. (Practice moments of gratitude with your first sip of coffee/tea, et cetera.)
3. Create mini habits.
A mini habit is a small positive behavior that you force yourself to do everyday. Make the habit so easy it's "too small to fail." Think one push-up, one minute of meditation/prayer, or one salad. It's that first step that feels like you're scaling a mountain, but then you've started, and before you know it you're on your way to accomplishing your goals and living "your BEST year ever!"
4. Celebrate your accomplishments.
Don't forget to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself when you've done well! It's easy to feel guilt when we don't do something—but when we do, we need to balance that with praise.
Also, enlisting some Accountability Partners makes the journey all that more fruitful and FUN! Know you'll have both good and bad days, but don't beat yourself up and quit. Lasting change is a product of daily habits, and in order to keep yourself motivated, it's really important to celebrate those mini accomplishments. Now, go get 'em!
Hope you're on your way to a year of bliss!
Written by Jennifer McNamara who, along with her husband, Mark McNamara, own Bliss & Vinegar. Jennifer is off to a great, motivated start this year!
Photo courtesy of Jennifer and Mark McNamara.