Loves looking at the bigger picture as to why some of us thrive on challenges and others fall before they get started.
Each year we set New Year's resolutions. Many of us won't last 24 hours before we abandon them. Similar to resolutions, goals allow us to achieve objectives we set for ourselves. Many of us face issues outside of our control which impact achieving many of the goals.
Some goals are feasible and some are simply not achievable. The key is to set ones which are feasible, which once completed, will make you feel good about yourself. Also, don't beat yourself up if you can't stick to something, maybe now isn't the time to start this.
Maybe you just have to wait a week, a month, or a year until you’re in the right mindset to start something you know you can finish.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
— Maya Angelou
Stages of Changing Your Habits
If you are having difficulty changing your habits to achieve a goal, then don't feel defeated. Research done by Royal College of Nursing in the United Kingdom shows that you have to be in the right mindset to initiate a change. So while this week you might not be interested in exercising, quitting cigarettes, getting healthy or saving money, by the middle of next week, you could be.
This research shows that there are six stages of changing your behaviour.
- Pre-contemplation: You are not interested in making a change.
- Contemplation: You have thought about making a change.
- Preparation: You start to take steps to make a change.
- Action: Actually changing your behaviour.
- Maintenance: You're trying to stay on track here but it's challenging. This is the stage where you can end up relapsing. So staying strong is vital.
- Relapse: This is where you have ended your maintenance and not followed through with your challenge.
This model might help explain why some of us have difficulty trying to stick to challenges like losing weight, saving money or exercising more. Some outside factor like a birthday party, a concert or the bad weather is the excuse we use to not stay on track.
Focus on Your Long-Term Plan
Simple Ways to Stick to Your Goals
- Write down what you want to achieve.
- Review your progress each week or each month depending on your goal.
- Give yourself a reasonable time frame to achieve your goal.
- Tell people what you are doing as this will hold you accountable.
- If you fail at it, accept it and start back on track again.
- Don't let negative outside factors stop you from obtaining your goal.
- Set yourself a reward for achieving your goal.
Reason Why You Can't Stick to Your Goals
You might be corrupting yourself or allowing outside factors to influence your decision to not stick to your goals. Many times we don't realize that our background, family, loved one and society can have negative impacts on our image and our behaviour.
Sometimes well-meaning friends can say something negative which will stick with you a long time into the future. When you mention you want to compete in a marathon, you hear friends say, "There is no way you could run a 5k marathon".
Hearing negative things from parents and teachers when you were younger can impact you as you get older. How many times growing up have you heard someone tell you no, don't do that?
It might be in relation to a career path you were thinking of following, a course you wanted to do at college or maybe something like learning to play an instrument. Hearing the word, no you can't do that, can stick in your mind many years later and without realizing it, we might end up believing this and allowing it to stop you following through on something. So, rather than believing in your own ability, you let another person’s opinion dictate what you want to do.
If we want to change our reality, then it's time for us to change our minds."
— Louise Hay
Example of Goals
|Personal Goal||Work Goal|
Visit friends and family more
Ask for raise in salary
Transfer to a new location
Spend more time with my partner
Move to a different department
Take up a hobby
Get a promotion
Take on more work responsiblity
Move to a new job
Hold Yourself Accountable and Write Down Your Goals
Many of us rely on apps, our phone, our diary and our calendar to stay organized. When setting a goal, writing it out in a notebook/ journal or recording it on an app later allows you to access the information and reflect back to see how you are actually progressing.
Writing down your goals is a method I like to use to track the progress of my goals and sometimes the simplest way is the best way. If you have goals such as getting fit, changing a habit, saving more money or reading more books, then this is a way to see your progress at a glance. The list of things you can record in this notebook/journal is endless.
The best thing about this type of method is that after 12 months, you can reflect back on each area and see your progress. Sometimes seeing something constructed into one area can help you see areas you need to improve upon.
This method allows you to evaluate your ongoing progress weekly, monthly and yearly. It gives you a 12-month time frame, and you can see if there is a pattern arising anywhere relating to an objective. This would be good for people trying to save money for something, or trying to challenge themselves to read more or exercise more.
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."
— Abraham Maslow
Specific Tips for Sticking to Your Goals
If you are trying to get healthy, trying to save money for something, want to lose weight, want to become a more positive person or you simply want to change your diet, some of the following methods could help you stay on track:
- Start eating two vegetables with each meal.
- Eat a piece of fruit with your lunch.
- Create a meal plan each week.
- Go for walks during your lunch break and on the weekend.
- Join a walking group.
- Buy a water bottle with a straw to encourage more water intake.
- Make your meals in bulk and freeze them.
- Set up a saving account which automatically takes money from your deposit account.
- One day a week don't eat out or spend any cash at the store. Then, put this money into a jar and don't touch it for 12 months. After 12 months, lodge the cash to your savings account. Start off aiming for one day a week and if you are successful with this, try to up it to two days a week and then three if possible
- Every evening when you come in from work or school put all your loose change into a container. Don't empty the container until 12 months later.
- Do the 365 1cent Saving Day Challenge.
- Join a Facebook group in your area.
- Join an exercise class.
- Join a dance class.
- Hang out with like-minded people who want to do achieve the same thing as you.
- Keep a Progression Journal.
- Use a food diary app to record what you eat.
- Create a Pinterest board of healthy dishes.
- Try doing a Jessica Smith TV or Fitness Blender workout regime.
- Download My Fitness Pal App.
Become More Positive
- Read autobiography books as you learn a lot from how others have reacted in difficult times.
- Read motivational books like Louise Hay to help with mindfulness.
- Take up meditation
- Keep a Q&A Journal
- Stop saying no and start saying yes
- Put a positive affirmation poster on your wall you can see each day when you wake up
- Create a vision board in your office or bedroom of positive images to influence change
How I Used the Smart Goal Method
There is a method called the SMART method which you could use in your daily life to encourage you to achieve your goals. You can find more about it at Michigan State University.
SMART goals need to be:
- Specific: Identify exactly how much you need to achieve your objective which could be saving money for college, a car, a holiday, or a deposit for a house. Don't have a broad objective; narrow it down as much as possible.
- Measurable: How much do you want to save? Figure out exactly how much you need to achieve your objective and identify how much each week or month you need to set aside.
- Attainable: You need to look at your income and expenses and see how much you can reasonable save. Don't be unrealistic because if you can't achieve it you will feel defeated.
- Realistic: Don't be a daydreamer and set an objective that you cannot achieve within a specific time-frame because you will likely fail. When you sit down and see that it will take a year instead of 6 months to actually achieve the objective you need to accept it. You might be disappointed now but you will achieve it in the long run, just not as soon as you had expected.
- Timely: Give yourself a specific time-frame to achieve this objective. It could be 6 months, a year, 2 years or more depending on what you require. You need to be realistic because saving for a deposit for a house will take longer than saving for a new fridge.
I used this method a few times to save for a course I needed to do and also for a new television. I sat down and calculated out how much I realistically could set aside each week and stuck to the system without fail. I successfully managed to save the money.
It was challenging because it changes your mind frame on how you spend your money. Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice like maybe not going out because if you spend it now, you won't have it later. It makes you stop and think about spending. In the future, I would use this method again.
There are many other methods around to encourage you to save money and what works for one might not work for another. We all could have different ways of doing it but the end goal is the same.
Questions & Answers
Question: How can I stop eating sweets when I am trying to lose weight?
Answer: 1. Keep your mind busy. The busier you are, the less time you have to think about eating sweets. Start reading books or do puzzles.
3. Buy fruit and have frozen yogurt with it. It's a healtier option.
4. Focus on something else. When you get the urge to eat sweets, leave the room. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Play a game. Do something to focus your attention elsewhere.
5. Empty the house of all sweets.
6. Stay away from the aisles in the stores where sweets are sold.
© 2018 Sp Greaney
Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on August 07, 2020:
@ Lisha C, thanks. Yes you're totally right. Gotta get organised and stick to your plan.
Lisha C on August 06, 2020:
It definitely is important to track progress and have a time frame in mind. Otherwise, time just flies by and I don't even realize!
This article is helpful, thanks for the tips.
Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on August 06, 2020:
@bhattuc, thanks for your comment.
bhattuc on August 05, 2020:
Very nice article. Good coverage. Thanks.
Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 11, 2020:
So true. Lists keep your plans in front of you and out of your thoughts.
Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on May 11, 2020:
Thanks Diana Carol Abrahamson, yes, I am a big fan of having lists and planning things out. :)
Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on May 08, 2020:
Great post about sticking to the plan and following through. Thanks for sharing with us. Sure it will be helpful to many.