Starting new habits comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. First, there’s the excitement around envisioning your end goal. Then, you’re fully engaged by putting new habits into practice. You probably start experiencing progress. Awesome!! At some point though, perhaps anxiety sets in, feeling like the new habit becomes too hard, or you sense you may not achieve your goal. If you’re like me, you find yourself in a downward spiral to abandon hope, spurred by self-doubt to continue and follow through.
So how do you get back on track and reset your motivation? Let me share with you what works for me.
What I find to be crucial is actually recognizing that I’m not feeling it - something changed in my mindset, and I’m no longer connected to my goal. This is an important part of correcting course. If you’re feeling challenged with adopting a new habit, begin by giving yourself grace. Phew, you’re a human, not a super-woman, and after all, life changes, as do you and your capacities.
Next, I encourage you to take a hard look at your goal, your recent actions and your mindset. You can ask yourself: what have I been doing and feeling that supports my goal? What have I been doing and feeling that derails my goal? Once you assess how you are helping or hurting your success, ask yourself: does this goal still make sense? Honestly, sometimes, the answer is NO. It takes great self-insight and courage to realize when you need to actually stop doing something.
Often, it’s not a matter of abandoning your goal, rather of redefining the intended outcome. This is your opportunity to reconnect with your ‘WHY?’ Why do you want to do this? What are you gaining? What do you risk by not adopting this habit? What will be different by taking this path? Taking this moment allows you to reframe what you’re seeking to achieve and how it impacts your life.
Once you have clarity about what you desire, now you can break down your intended outcome into smaller stepping-stone goals. This gives you to set a step-by-step outline with measurable benchmarks and opportunities to WIN along the way! When we achieve something, our brains emit serotonin, the feel-good hormone, which fuels us to KEEP GOING.
Having areas where you can find small successes in a larger goal gives you the motivation to continue for the long-distance. Similar to marathon runners who mentally break down the race into smaller, more manageable sections, you can now keep track of your progress and measure your performance. You can feel confident when you’re pacing to your goal plan or know when you need to increase effort to stay on track. And you don't have to feel like the finish line is out of sight.
**Remember that making change is difficult: it takes roughly 30-45 days of regular commitment before something becomes habit. By practicing grace for your humanness when you're not fully engaged and keeping an eye on short-distance goals, you can shift your focus to what is directly ahead of you. This releases you from the overwhelm of a larger (perhaps more daunting) goal. Every step you make towards your goal is progress, so be sure to give yourself credit for those wins along your journey! You'll soon realize you're practicing that new habit as a part of your daily routine!
Try the exercise above, a guide to help you break down your goal and set benchmarks to move forward with success!