January, the month when resolutions bite the dust…! Here are some ideas for keeping on track.
It is that time of year again when we look to the future and set ourselves goals. Often only to see them fall by the wayside, leaving us feeling like we have failed. How do we get around this and keep ourselves on track?
How important is this to you?
Before you even start working out how to change things, first of all consider how important each of your goals and resolutions is to you. Is it a priority right now? How does it compare with other areas of your life/other goals? What will it give you? And what will that give you? How much time and energy do you want to spend on it/do you have to spend on it? How will it impact on other areas of your life? A bit of reflection may lead you to realise that actually this is not a priority right now, and that is fine. Maybe it is something you want to pick up again later on. Maybe it is something to park completely.
If however you have decided it’s a priority, what can you do to keep on track or get back on track?
Do you have a cunning plan?
It is usually helpful to have an idea of how you are going to get somewhere – a bit of a map. If you have not already done so, consider what are the different things you need to do/what are the stages to getting there? What order do they need to be done in? Which are the key ones and when do they need to be done by? Who could help you? How will you know when you are starting to get results? What will the early signs of success be? How can you make it easier for yourself to get on and do the things you want to? What will you do if things don’t work out the way you want – what is the plan then? It helps to have thought it out in advance. All of this thinking helps us to get clear in our heads what it is we need to do and when, so that we can then focus on getting on and doing it, step by step.
What’s your carrot?
To build and maintain your motivation, it is good to be really clear about why you are doing something – the ‘what will it give you?’ from the first section. This is really helpful so you can remind yourself of it when the going gets tough or when you just need help to get on with things. What will you be seeing, hearing, feeling or doing when you achieve your goal? How can you remind yourself of this? Options include writing it down somewhere so you can re-read it or finding an image or a piece of music that resonates with you.
How will you reward yourself? Not just when you achieve your end goal (which might be reward enough in itself, depending on what it is), but along the way as you take the necessary steps and meet your key milestones. Celebrate those successes to help yourself keep going. It could be as simple as a walk in the park or a phone call to a friend – whatever floats your boat and works for you/the situation.
How will you remind yourself of all the times in the past when you have been successful/done good things/overcome difficulties, so you can use this when you need a boost of confidence or energy? Harness your past successes – they are a really valuable resource.
What’s the stick?
Most of us need a combination of carrot and stick to motivate us. What will happen if you don’t do this? Will you lose money? Will you lose credibility? Will you be less effective? Will you lose face? Will it affect your health?
How will you keep yourself accountable? This is especially important for personal goals and for work/business related goals if you are self-employed. Writing down what you plan to do makes it more likely you will do it. Telling other people what you are going to do makes if more likely again. This works especially well if you give a deadline and ask someone to ask how you have got on when the deadline arrives. Who do you know who could help you to keep on track?
How will you track your progress?
It’s all very well writing a plan or a to-do list – but for it to be effective, you do also need to keep checking back with it! As well as enabling you to see how far you have got and what still needs to be done, reviewing progress also enables you to learn from what has happened and to refocus and re-plan as necessary.
Think about how and when you will do this. What will be most useful for you? Is there anything you can measure and quantify to support you in monitoring progress? Targets to aim for can be really powerful motivators, even as simple as committing to doing something every day and marking that off in some way.
To maintain motivation when you are reviewing progress, make sure you include the things you have done and your successes as well as the things that have not worked out as you hoped or you have not got round to.
For those areas that did not go as planned, see if you can identify what was going on/what got in the way and how you could approach things differently another time if you chose to/felt that was needed.
A useful template to use for this review is:
Date/period being reviewed: (could be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually etc.)
General activity: (what was going on during that time)
Successes, initiatives, achievements:
Difficulties overcome and items learnt:
Progress compared to plan: (on track, off track, to what extent)
Priorities going forward/for the next time period:
If this is done on a regular basis, it can be a really good record of what you have achieved and help you to recognise your progress and successes – we are often in danger of not noticing this as we fret about what we have not done. It can also help us to see setbacks as opportunities to learn and move forward – and to recognise when we have done this and so build up our resilience and confidence in our ability to do so again.
I wish you all the very best in 2018! If you would like some one-to-one, tailored coaching support with keeping yourself motivated, accountable and finding your way around barriers, please feel free to call me on 07708 034395 or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer an initial no-obligation, no-cost discovery session. I look forward to hearing from you!