It seems that everyone set goals for 2016, determined to REALLY make them happen this time. We've heard advice like "write down your goals" "be specific" "set a deadline" everyone swearing these magic formulas are gonna to make the new year your bitch. Well, few ever works.
Gym memberships are surging, just like last year, and the year before that. Well, few people make it through January.
So some people quit making New Year's resolutions, but I do. Not that I am optimistic, I mean look at the snow piling up outside, there really isn't much to do; so why not sit down, have a cup of tea, and plan something?
I set goals last year, some went off the rails, some turned out fine. It took me a while to experiment and figure out what's really working for me. I can't promise this will work for EVERYONE, but it has nothing to do with "superman willpower" or "positive thinking."
Technique #1 Take Baby Steps
I know, it's tempting to set big goals. I once decided to cut off sugar for good after a toothache and a few terrifying shows on Netflix telling me how bad it is to consume too much sugar, but I soon resumed my old habit: family-size chocolate cakes for dinner from time to time.
It clearly didn't work. I thought to myself "What the heck? You know what, I'm not beating myself up about it. Maybe I will just cut back a little, every week and see how it goes. " It didn't seem like much progress at the beginning, but it didn't stress me out, so I carried on.
After a few month, guess what? It works like a charm!
Maybe, achieving a big goal is a result of committing to baby-steps over time.
Technique #2 Set The Environment for Success
We have very limited willpower. (see footnote)
It will make your life so much easier if you make your environment work for you.
I admit, it's pretty damn hard not to reach for sweets when you have them right in front you. When deciding to cut back on sugar, I put candies away...actually on the top shelve of the cabinet...where it's been a constant struggle for me to reach without a stool!
I have a sweet tooth, but I could also be lazy. Sometimes when I figured I had to get the stool in another room just to reach the candies, my laziness trumped my sweet tooth.
I turned one shortcoming against another, pretty smart, isn't it?
Technique #3 Focus on Process, Not Deadline
The trick is this, I thought it through "Right now, I eat two family-sized cakes a week. If I just focus on eating a little bit less every week, in 12 weeks, will it help me to cut back on sugar? " It did.
Sometimes when you look at the goals and the deadline you set for yourself , you may start wondering "Can I really do that?" Instead of focusing on how to get there, your brain is "re-programmed" to find excuses to rationalize why you can't.
So instead of focusing on the deadline, channel your energy into the process and see what happens.
If you have some "tricks" that are working well for you, just leave a comment here. I'd love to hear some ideas!
Note: You've Got a Limited Supply of Willpower, so Use It Wisely