A lot of us are great at setting goals. We do it almost every day. Unfortunately, what many of us are not so good at is sticking to those goals. How can you stop giving up on your goals when the going gets hard?
A while back, I wrote a post that will help do some ground work for setting goals that will be easier to stick to. However, sometimes our willpower challenges us and we need something a bit more than just good planning. What about those times that you get really challenged in the midst of your journey?
Probably the number 1 reason we dont stick to our habits long enough to reach our goals is that we just dont have the willpower necessary to get us there. There are several great ways you can build up your willpower to achieve your goals when the going gets tough. One of my favorite books on the subject is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. Lets look at just a few of the excellent ideas Kelly McGonigal discusses in her book.
Track Your Choices Its important to know where you are making choices that might negatively affect your goal achievement. Pay attention to the choices you are making that are sabotaging your habits. For example, your goal might be to get out of debt so you commit to spending less money but then find yourself eating out during the day or ordering fast food on your way home because you didnt plan ahead. Observe the choices you are making so that you can then give some thought to how you can correct or plan for those sabotaging behaviors.
Breathe Your Way to Better Self Control Willpower is something that generally takes time to build up to. However, this technique can be used instantly to increase your self control and help you to avoid temptation, whether it be eating, shopping or internet surfing. Practice taking long, slow breaths. Inhale to the count of 10 and then exhale to the count of 10. This should give you 4 to 6 breaths every minute. When you deliberately practice this for 5 minutes, you will regain a sense of calm and peace which will help you to make a wiser decision regarding that temptation.
Take a 15 or 20 Minute Nap One of the biggest challenges to our willpower is lack of sleep. Be sure you are getting adequate sleep at night. However, if youve had a bad night or are just feeling especially challenged, grab a quick nap. Fifteen to 20 minutes is ideal.
Reflect on Your Past Successes What other things have you done in your life that you have had to work hard at? Think about those things and know that, if you can do that, you can do this! Dont doubt yourself. Even small successes amount to a lot. If you dont think youve been successful at anything in your life, its time to hire a life coach.
Aim to Reduce the Variability For those things we want to stop doing, or even the habits we want to create, go for control instead of all or nothing. If your goal is to eat healthier, you might aim to eat just one specific meal healthy every day. You are then faced with the decision that at least two other meals every day will be unhealthy meals. Because your goal was to just eat one healthy meal, you are now committed to eating two unhealthy meals every day. This process allows you to really look at the long term consequences of your behavioral choices, good and bad and make stronger commitments to your actions. It also eliminates the option of cheating when you have earned a reward.
There are quite a few more great tips in McGonigals book. If you are serious about building your willpower and reaching your goals, I highly encourage you to purchase your own copy.