Many of us have trigger months that motivate us to start healthy habits. January is a time of wiping the slate clean and resetting our goals for a healthier New Year. Spring rolls around with longer days and warmer weather and we start thinking about shorts and bathing suits. Towards the end of summer, school is about to start and we are determined the house will be organized this year. Or maybe we’re thinking about selling the house and we want to be ready. We often jump into our plans at full speed with great intentions and high enthusiasm. We may not realize we have actually set ourselves up for a frustrating path from the start. Losing weight, organizing the house, eating healthy, running a marathon, getting more sleep, managing stress, and quitting smoking are just a few of the promises we make to ourselves. Why is it that after a couple of months, we’ve lost steam and are still struggling to fulfill those goals?
The key to lasting behavior change often comes down to identifying what motivates you as an individual to take that first step and make a positive difference in your life. Our most firmly rooted habits are not easy to change and when temptation strikes drawing us back to what is comfortable, you need a strong motivation to keep moving ahead toward your ultimate goal. Here are some steps to help you stay on track:
Look inward to identify why it’s important – Finding something that is personal to you is a more powerful driving force than simply aiming to please others or live up to their expectations (i.e.” I want to look good in a bathing suit” or “my husband/wife says I need to.”) What is your internal motivator? Perhaps exercise gives you more energy and deeper sleep at night, eating right means you can go off certain medications, and volunteering warms your heart.
Write it down – Be intentional about writing down your “Why” and placing it somewhere you can refer to often. This can provide motivation when you are struggling and serves as a meaningful reminder as to why you started in the first place. Use active words, describe your reason in a full sentence, and remember to keep things positive! “I will quit smoking so that I can be healthy enough to see my grandchildren and play with them as they grow up.”
Be dedicated – Only by being completely dedicated to your “Why” will you have the motivation to achieve your goal. Having a compelling reason that you can continually refer to will help you keep on track as you work towards achieving your overall goal.
Share your goal with others – If you are comfortable, share your goal and progress with others. There is something about articulating your goal that creates instant accountability. Having the support of others working towards similar goals can help you stay motivated as well.
When it comes to lifestyle goals, it is important to have a plan, take it one step at a time, and remain positive throughout the journey. A healthier life is possible when you know why you’re doing it and are motivated for the long term.
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