Welcome to the first installment in a new series on the Orange Naturals Blog called Be Your Best Self. Every month we’ll feature articles on self-care and provide tips on all aspects of health, including mental, emotional, physical, and lifestyle. Let’s start the New Year off with everyone’s favourite topic, goal setting!
The first day of a new year is usually a time when you pledge to become a more improved version of yourself. You may want to build a better body, eat healthier foods, plan that vacation you’ve been putting off, and maybe even become a more patient parent. While all these proposed big changes are good end goals to have, making small changes now will amount to a bigger impact later, and increase the chances of overall success. After many years of attempting to put my resolutions into practice January 1, it finally dawned on me that maybe I was setting the bar too high.
Cut Your Goals into Bite-Sized Pieces
Change is more easily achieved if you break your goals into doable ideas or tasks. Instead of generalizing what you want to change, really think about what it is about that particular desire that stands out to you. Instead of saying you’re going to stop eating junk food and become a vegetarian, simplify it by pledging to cut out one serving of processed food a day, or making yourself a green juice for a mid-morning snack. When you divide your goals into smaller pieces, the stress of trying to keep them up falls away and you’re more likely to remember to incorporate them, too. Take going to the gym, for example. It’s probably at the top of the list for 99 percent of people who make resolutions; I know it was always was for me. So instead of trying to commit to an unrealistic number of times I wanted to hit the gym in a week, I took it day by day. If I got there once a week, fine. If I made it there two or three times in a week, even better. Sometimes I even got to the gym five times in one week, hurray!
You Can’t Realize Your Goals Without Motivation
Motivation is a strange thing, isn’t it? We seek it but it’s supposed to be already in us. Some people can tap into it on a whim; some have it and then lose it. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt we need some measure of motivation to propel us towards the goals we dream of achieving. So what does motivation look like? In basic terms, motivation is simply the desire to do things. It’s the difference between getting everything done on your to-do list or lingering too long with the other moms at school drop-off and continuing the conversation at Starbucks. Some days we’re clear and focused and on others we’re scattered.
Here’s a secret I’ll share with you: motivation always works for me when I trick it into action. Here are some ways to find your motivation on days when it’s hiding:
The 5 Minute Trick
Tell yourself you’re only going to do something for five minutes. Getting started on a task that you’re not looking forward to doing usually ends up getting finished once you get into the groove. Straightening some magazines can turn into a full-fledged house cleaning. A walk around the block can easily turn into a couple of miles, especially if you bring the dog. You might even get your taxes finished instead of just making a five minute dent like you planned.
Partner with a Friend
Procrastination doesn’t stand a chance when the power of two is confronting it! Having someone to tackle weeds with or run a half marathon alongside puts the responsibility of motivation on each other. Instead of having to generate it yourself, you’re generating it to encourage the other person and vice versa.
Create a Vision Board
If you’re the type of person who tears pictures out of magazines because you identify with the image or want to incorporate that outfit or dining room design into your own life, then tear away! Buy yourself a beautiful scrapbook and glue your pictures into it according to theme. You could also just assemble them all on a large piece of Bristol board or pin to your heart’s content on Pinterest. I personally use all of these methods, and they really work for me in terms of “seeing” what my mind wants to achieve.
Think positive thoughts and talk positive talk. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy and criticize ourselves more than we’re aware of. Try to get in the habit of catching that negative self talk and turning it around with some kindness and compassion. It’s tough to do at first, but with some practice, you can turn the critic in your head into your new best friend.
How not to lose your momentum
So the first few months of the New Year have gone by. It might be a good time to evaluate how you’re doing. Are you building on small changes and getting closer to your overall goals? Then you have a good momentum going. In order not to lose it, there are a few things you can do. First, it’s important to keep things interesting. Changing the way you approach your smaller goals is almost like driving to your favourite destination on a different road each time. When it comes to exercise, it’s easy to get on the same elliptical machine and use the same size weights. I recently started taking advantage of some free circuit classes at my gym and I’ve definitely started seeing some improved definition in my arms, which incidentally, is one of my goals! I’m still going to the same place to work out, but I changed up my routine and I look forward to challenging myself in a new way every time I go.
So remember: break down the big goals, outsmart procrastination and mix it up to keep things interesting. Hopefully this will be the year you can finally say, “I did it!”