Making the decision to create big changes in your life is an exciting shift, and can bring many satisfying rewards. Some people want to improve their relationships with their spouses, loved ones, friends, and coworkers, some have fitness goals, and others have a hobby or passion that they want to make a bigger part of their life. While it’s exciting to embrace this journey of self-development, you can sometimes become discouraged or distracted, and the temptation to give up is often fueled by lack of support, roadblocks, and not seeing success as quickly as you might like. Achieving your goals might be challenging, but here are five tips that can help.
Create a support system
I see many people give up on their goals early because they simply don’t have anyone on the journey with them. Sometimes the ones you expect to come alongside you, like friends or significant others, may not share similar interests or may be happy where they are at.
Instead of relying solely on these individuals, gather people around you who are working on themselves and their growth. Their influence will help to keep you motivated, help you brainstorm through roadblocks, and make the journey fun. Nowadays, you can cultivate these relationships in a variety of ways like local weekly Meetup groups, online groups and more.
Keep a schedule
Comfort can be the enemy of growth, a prime example being physical comfort. It’s easy to get comfortable when you get home after a long day. It’s natural just to want to relax. However, this can be a valuable time that you can use to move forward with your goals. You don’t want your personal growth activities to take over your life completely, and relaxing is important. So finding a way to do both is important.
Make a schedule around the parts of the day that you want to block out to spend time in relaxing activities, like eating dinner with your family, catching up with friends or just having downtime for you. Realistically block off other periods to focus on your goals, and stick to the schedule. Treat this time seriously and don’t cheat on your schedule, because you’ll only be cheating yourself. Recognize this as time you are honoring yourself.
Learn to say no
Saying no to others is often a sticking point since many don’t want to hurt the feelings of those they care about. I run across this more so with my clients who are women. Learning how to say no in a friendly yet firm manner, is a just a skill that takes awareness and practice. It also requires refusal to succumb to feelings of guilt, while honestly acknowledging your capabilities and your limits.
Being able to say no to some things will allow you to stay focused and on track with the goals you’ve already said yes to. Doing this can also clear out a lot of mental clutter since you’ll have fewer demands that can throw you off your path.
Failure is the biggest part of success, and you will likely fail many times when pursuing your personal growth. Failure is simply learning that a particular way does not work for you even if it worked for someone else. It brings you one step closer to discovering what does and will work for you.
At times like these, it’s completely normal to feel discouraged, but this will pass. Re-framing the situation, for example, looking at it as increasing understanding about yourself vs. being upset with yourself, will go a long way to moving past your perceived failure. Also, asking for, and being open to, constructive feedback, being gentle with yourself, and making a new more viable plan, will support you in not giving up. I like to say “don’t panic (when things do go as expected) make a plan.”
Set smaller goals along the way
It’s wonderful to have big goals, like losing a certain amount of weight, learning an entirely new skill, transforming a relationship or decluttering a home. The challenge with these kinds of goals is that they can take some time, and many small steps to get there. Start with the end in mind, visualize and feel what it would be like to achieve your goal. Then break down that larger goal into smaller ‘bite sized pieces’ and where appropriate, attach specific or general time lines to each of those ‘pieces.’
Don’t forget to acknowledge your smaller accomplishments. If you’re working on losing weight, celebrate a week of clean eating and the number of times you did the activity of your choosing. If you are learning a language, relish being able to speak a few words or holding a short conversation. If you’re learning to tie a new boat knot or learning a golf stroke, really hone in on the moment by moment feeling of pleasure you experience from doing what expands or nurtures you. Small victories when working on improving a relationship or your environment require the same positive attention.
Seeing the incremental successes along the way will help keep you motivated and can make it a lot more enjoyable. Looking back on each milestone will help push you forward instead of focusing on what you haven’t yet done.