How To Create Positive Purposeful Change Part 2: The Science of Your Success
You’ve written your goals, made a plan of attack, and feel excited for 2012. Motivation is running high and you feel great. To keep yourself on track with your goals and motivation I will now delve into the myths that often hold us back from reaching our goals. Understanding the reality about change will help you to reach your goals faster. As an added bonus I’m also going to feature some science-based tips that will help you along your journey towards positive purposeful change.
Myth #1: Reaching your goal should be easy
Getting Real: I’m sure everyone has heard the quote ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it!’. But it is still relevant. Making change is difficult. If you accept that you may encounter some problems you will be better able to deal with them, when and if they appear. Be prepared for possible obstacles by thinking about them before they happen and brainstorming solutions. Use the worksheet below to help you.
Myth #2: Reaching your goal should be quick
Getting Real: This is often the most frustrating for some as we live in a world of instant gratification. Good things take time. Patience is a virtue. As long as you are working actively towards your goal in a timely manner you will get there. There is no need to put yourself under extra pressure. Relax and enjoy the process.
Myth #3: You should treat your goal with an ‘all or nothing’ approach
Getting Real: This is the mentality which most often derails people. They indulge in a few too many cookies, or slack off on their exercise routine. They figure that they have completely ruined their efforts because they could not remain committed 100% So they give up because they think ‘what is the point of continuing?’
Well in the real world, people make mistakes. But if you pick yourself up from where you left off, and encourage yourself to get back on track, you will reach your goal!!! You may have to do this one, two, or maybe ten times!!! The point is to remain committed through triumphs and tribulations.
Myth #4: You should feel instantly positive about changing
Getting Real: Letting go of old habits is hard, and you may experience a range of emotions. Give yourself freedom to experience these feelings, but don’t dwell on them. Remind yourself of how good it will feel when you achieve your goal, and keep moving forward.
What the science says
Below are helpful hints based on research around goal setting and positive psychology. When you find yourself needing motivation, try one of the following:
Stop ruminating on your setbacks and move towards solution focused thinking.
So you missed a few workouts this week and now you are beating yourself up about it. Stop it. Instead try this: Recognize that these thoughts are not helpful, and begin by writing them down. Write down a new thought that will be more helpful in achieving your goal. Now repeat that in your head ten times.
Old thought: I’m so lazy for not going to the gym after work this week. I feel like a failure!
New thought: I am going to achieve my goals. Next week I will get up early to go to the gym first thing in the morning.
Change your environment.
Remove temptations from your house and workplace. Post signs and symbols around your house, in your diary, on your computer, or even your phone as cues for action. Change them often to maintain motivation.
Prepare for the long haul.
According to research from the European Journal of Social Psychology it takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to become automatic. However, this can range anywhere from 18 – 254 days. Try this: Create a 90 day action plan to give yourself enough time to form the habit.
Find an inspiring role model or coach.
Research shows that having a mentor or coach increases your chances of attaining your goals. Just make sure the person you chose is reliable and knowledgeable about the subject of your goal (e.g. A personal trainer for a fitness goal, and a business coach for a career goal)
Be positive and specific when phrasing your goals.
‘I will be less sedentary’ (negative & vague) vs. ‘I will walk to work 4 times a week at a vigorous pace’ (positive & specific)
Use encouraging self-talk.
We are sometimes our own worst enemy and talk ourselves out of completing a task. Instead talk to yourself in a supportive and encouraging manner.
Old school talk: ‘I’m so tired, I can’t finish this workout!’
New school talk: ‘You are doing so well and are close to finishing. Only 3 more exercises then you can stretch and relax. You can do it!’
Monitor your progress.
Keep a diary, checklist on the computer, or even write an online blog! This will help you remain focused on your goal, and record measurements of your success.
Reward yourself for your hard work.
Did you just run 5k straight for the first time? Well done, how about a new pair of running shoes, or a pedicure to treat your feet. Just make sure rewards are not always based around food or alcohol.
Hopefully you’ve taken a few things on board that can help you achieve your goals. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. Cheers to you and achieving your goals in 2012!!!!
- What are your favourite tips for staying on track with your goals?
- How will you be celebrating the new year?