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“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
― Edith Lovejoy Pierce
It’s that time of year again when people are busily trying to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. I read recently that only about 10% of people actually achieve their resolutions. Yikes! Pretty depressing statistic eh?
How come? Why is it that it’s so damn hard to change habits?
I’ve written before about SMART goals: ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented. You have to think about how you’re going to get what you want. It’s not enough to just wish it to be so. This is the meat and potatoes part of goal setting. What specifically will you do and when?
See blog: New Year’s Resolutions that Last
Let’s face it. Not many goals are achieved without some setbacks. When an obstacle gets in your way, viewing it as a learning opportunity can be helpful. What could you do to tweak your goal so that you’re more likely to achieve it?
Being able to think about what went wrong in terms of learning more about it, can help you think of other ways you might pursue this goal. There is never just one way of doing things!
I think flexibility is important too. Sometimes you have to be willing to do some things differently and bend like the willow. You know how sometimes the biggest trees break in a strong wind? Being flexible means bending when you need to, tweaking things just a bit here and a bit there so you’re more likely to accomplish your goals.
There are some goals that feel like shoulds. I should lose weight, I should stop smoking, I should exercise. How much do you want those lifestyle changes? Do you feel passionate about your goal or do you feel like it’s just got to be done whether you like it or not?
Passion and desire give fuel to goals! They can motivate us to persevere when the going gets tough, they can give us a vision of where we want to go. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
Frustration is normal when we’re not getting what we want. But frustration can give us some good information. It can help us recognize just how much we do care when we experience a hiccup. Caring, passion and desire are crucial in giving us the drive to reach our goals.
Certainly persistence is a factor. Sometimes it’s easier to give up on a goal than to keep working on it. Choosing to persist means choosing the harder road! But know this, it is a choice, to stick with your goals or not.
A study at the University College London found it takes anywhere from 18-254 days to create a habit. Everybody’s different so persistence is key!
Discipline plays into everything written above. It impacts SMART goals, it influences our intentions to make needed changes to our goals and persist with them, and it certainly influences passion and desire. It would be nice if the drive and motivation to succeed remained constant, but unfortunately, it often doesn’t. There are going to be times when you just don’t feel like exercising, skipping that dessert, denying yourself that cigarette, or saving that money. There will be times when you’re screaming inside because you want it to be easier!
Discipline is motivated by passion. When you want something bad enough, it’s a bit easier to be disciplined in order to reach your goal.
Another key to sticking to your goals is making it fun. Use some creativity! If your goal is to lose weight, serve your new meals on special plates. Make it seem really gourmet! Invite friends over who have the same or a similar goal.
Use your imagination to come up with inventive ways to reach your goal. As I said before, there are many ways you can get what you want!
Try these and see what difference it makes in helping you stick to your goals!