With March fast upon us, we are well into the year 2012. How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? How many of you have kept all of your resolutions? Some? None?
It’s said the drop off point for resolutions comes at the six week mark, when the initial excitement about starting something new wears off. The road seems a lot longer than we initially anticipated, or we create excuses about why we cannot continue, or we set much higher expectations for ourselves than we can realistically achieve. What went wrong, and how do we keep this from continuously happening to ourselves?
It’s is never too late to keep your promises to yourself, though the New Year hype has long passed. But instead of relying on feelings as a compass, we must activate our inner professional and be militant about what we want.
What does it mean to "be militant"?
No one has to tell you to get up in the morning to go to work; you do that on your own. You do it day in and day out, whether you are in a great mood or in a foul mood, whether it’s sunny or you’re caught up in a rainstorm. Regardless of how we feel, we get up and we go to work in the morning, and we hold ourselves accountable because our careers are how we put food on the table and sustain our families. When thinking about things we want to accomplish in life, we must invoke this very principle. A career isn’t a quick fix, it is a long-term commitment. Similarly, those things we truly want to accomplish all require long-term commitments and we must set aside our preferences for instant gratification when pursuing them. Just because you felt great about meditating yesterday, doesn’t mean you get a free pass today because you aren’t as excited.
How to be militant and reach your goals!
1. Write Down Your Goals – And Put Them Away.
Have you found yourself making the same resolution year in year out? Chances are this is something you really want to achieve. Anything you’d like to achieve this year write it down on a piece of paper, and then seal it in an envelope for safekeeping. You won’t need to be reminded of your goals if they are things you truly want. Besides, when you open up the envelope on December 31st, you’ll want to surprise yourself to see how far you have come.
(i.e. “I want to start practicing yoga.”)
2. Think Like a Professional Goal Attainer.
Look at your goals – whether resolutions or just things you want to do – as a professional would look at their job. Like the professional woman who gets herself to work every day despite how she feels, you must be willing to look beyond the thoughts or feelings that arise at any given moment which prevent you from doing your work. The more you attach yourself to the way you feel and the way you think, which changes moment to moment, the less likely you are to continue on the path.
(i.e. “I’m really tired from work and I don’t feel like doing yoga, but I’ll do it anyway. I’ll take a quick shower and have a bite to eat to rejuvenate before my half hour session.”)
3. Take The First Step.
The first step is the most important and the most difficult step you will take when embarking on any journey. Expect your thoughts to travel at hundreds of miles an hour, telling you why you can’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t possibly do what you are about to do. If some of these thoughts represent legitimate concerns, consult a friend or a loved one to see if they can offer a different perspective on how to address that concern while working towards your goal. Remember: when there is a will there is a way, and compromise is possible!
(i.e. “I just signed up for my first yoga class after work!”)
4. Show Up to Work, Rain or Shine.
So long as you are working on your goal, it doesn’t matter how you achieve it and remember to always listen to yourself. Some days will always be better than others. For the days you run late at work and cannot visit the yoga studio, consider doing yoga at home through Netflix. While you had a good, two hour meditation session yesterday, today you may only dedicate half an hour. The amount of time or how you get it done is not the point, rather that you actually put in the time to get yourself that much closer to attaining your goal. Giving yourself different options and alternatives in how you do something will make it less likely you will abandon the path.
In addition, enlisting the help of a friend as a motivational partner is a wonderful way to keep yourself in check, but if your partner starts to falter in their determination to continue, do not use that as an excuse from backing out of your goal. Do you ever miss a day of work just because one of your coworkers decided she didn’t want to come in? Same rule applies.
(i.e. “Maggie says she really doesn’t want to go to yoga today because she has a lot to do at home, and though I’m a bit tired myself, I’ll go to yoga class anyway.”)
5. Challenge Yourself.
As with any form of exercise, your body plateaus after a while and no longer reaps the benefits of doing the same workout. Similarly, expect and welcome changes in your routine. It just shows that you are growing and that more growth is on the way.
(i.e. “I think I’ll try a different form of yoga today than the one I typically practice.”)
6. Hold Yourself Accountable.
Document your progress, whether in an online blog, a journal, or a photo album. This is both a great motivational tool and a way of keeping yourself in line; once you see how far you have come, you will wonder how you can possibly back out now.
It takes more than feeling good or thinking positively to see a goal through. In lieu of resolutions this year, I committed myself to goals that I told myself I will achieve, versus what I want to achieve. This change in language forced me to commit myself to my goals and as a result, I have knocked off four items off of my 2012 list. What has helped me is the knowledge that I’m more than just the momentary thoughts and feelings that arise – both good and bad – and that the payoff comes after the workout or after I write three pages in my journal every morning, whether or not I believe I have something to say. Just knowing that I showed up to work and gave it my best that day keeps me motivated.