How We Can Actually Stick to the Goals We Set
September 23rd marked the last 100 days of the year.
A somewhat surreal thought (how is it almost 2020?!) but also an exciting one as it means 100 days to a new year; one that we can enter by being better at something we want to master, breaking a habit, saving more money, eating healthier, the list goes on.
Although I am constantly reminded, since my surgery, not to set timeframes or put pressure on myself, I greatly believe goal setting is so important, especially when realistic and achievable in some way.
Goals give us a focus, enable us to measure our progress, keep us from getting distracted and allow us to get excited about an end point.
And yet when we start a new goal, plan or intention we tend to do so with all the drive in the world. We feel so inspired and motivated at the beginning that we bring our A-game to achieving them. But this initial feeling of will and excitement often diminishes overtime and we quickly slide back into old patterns and comfort zones. Sticking to our goals seems to be the hardest thing and a big part of that problem is how our minds set those goals or intentions in the first place.
The last 100 days of the year: Setting the intention
A lot of the time, we are so vague with our goals.
We know what we want to achieve but we aren’t specific enough with them or say what we will actually do to achieve them.
After stating my goal was to walk “normally” alone (and by normally I mean not wobbling or feeling so conscious about what others think), I quickly realised that isn’t measurable and I needed to be more specific. Changing my goal to wanting to walk 10 miles in 100 days (which will also build up to the 50 miles I’ve signed up to again for Braintrust next year) seems unimaginable right now, yet is something I can actually work towards and those 5k baby steps each day give me a target to beat.
Choosing a goal that we can actually take small steps to achieve means we have something tangible to measure our progress against and keep us motivated to keep going.
What obstacles are you faced with and how will you get around them?
It’s not enough to simply set an intention or plan. Instead we have to understand ourselves and what has stopped us in the past.
Why did your previous goals fail? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What obstacles will get in your way and how will you overcome them?
Last week was the first time I have actually thought about what achieving my goal of walking further, and without wobbling, would mean (freedom, independence, would be healthier, wouldn’t feel confined or stuck, would be able to explore places). I also thought about what the negatives of not achieving it will be, which are mostly the opposite (dependent on others, feeling confined, not as healthy etc).
Simply writing down why we want to achieve something is so powerful in understanding what it will mean to us if we give up and makes it far more important to achieve a goal than we first imagined.
Break your goal down: what can you do right now?
There are days, like today, when I haven’t felt like leaving the house at all. Previously, I would have given up and instead thought “not walking a little more today isn’t going to help you achieve your goal of walking the 10 miles so you might as well give up.” But despite walking further than ever this week, on days when I just haven’t felt like it, breaking it down into little chunks has helped massively.
I’ve taken up little daily habits that will still get me towards my goal without walking itself. For example, strengthening my core and practicing yoga to help control my balance (the reason I currently wobble and find it so challenging), eating healthier, walking more frequently around the house, and even reading something that will help develop my confidence and get past the issue of fearing what others think (currently ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown).
Developing habits that stick
Instead of obsessing over the future, or thinking of the end goal without imagining how we will get there, we can choose to focus on what we can do right now, in this moment, that will bring us one step closer to achieving our dreams.
Accept that we’re human, we’re not perfect and there will be some days we are more motivated than others. Rather that being a perfectionist, be a realist and on those days, go back to your reasons of why it’s so important to achieve your goal and ask yourself what little steps you can still take towards it today.
What do you want to change or improve in the last 100 days of the year?