Whether you’ve set a New Year’s resolution or new behavioral goal, obstacles and setbacks are inevitable. Here’s how to stay motivated and keep moving forward to achieve your goals.
U.S. News and World Report reported that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.
Seeing as we’ve almost hit that point, let’s do a resolution and goal check-in. Did you start a new diet this year or exercise plan? Did you begin a daily meditation practice? Are you still working hard at it or have you fallen off the bandwagon, already part of the 80%?
If you’ve lost your way towards your goal, fear not. You’re reading this article for a reason. Let’s dive into why resolutions fail and how to stay motivated to keep moving forward to achieve your goals.
Why Do Resolutions Fail?
There are many reasons why resolutions fail. Here are some of the most common ways we fail to reach our goals.
The goal is too big
Your expectations of the steps to achieve the goal are unrealistic
There are too many resolutions on your list
Your goal is vague and immeasurable
You doubt your abilities
You have no support
You haven’t identified the real reason why you want to achieve the goal
You’re not ready or willing to do the work to make the change
How to Keep Going When You’ve Lost Motivation
Perhaps you see one or more of your reasons above on why you’ve stopped moving forward to achieve your goal. Here’s how to stay motivated so you can make your new resolution a reality.
Remember Your Why
Getting really clear on why you want to make a change in your life is super important. You need to go deeper on your why than you might think.
If you say you want to start a new diet because you want to lose weight, ask a few more probing questions. Looking good in your jeans can be motivating, but being healthy enough to keep up with your kids and watch them turn into adults, is a whole other level of motivation.
So continue asking why you want something until you get to a really meaningful answer. That answer is what will keep your motivation high. Seeing your child’s face when you’re reaching for a brownie may help you resist a short term temptation.
Break the Goal Into Smaller Pieces
People often get overwhelmed at the size of a goal. If you set out to lose 100 pounds in 30 days, you’re likely going to be discouraged when you’re not seeing those results. You’ll then throw the towel in on the whole thing, thinking weight loss is not possible for you.
Try breaking up your weight loss goals into smaller pieces. Losing a few pounds in a week is much more motivating and attainable. Or maybe you simply try a week without eating any processed food. When you’re able to accomplish one result, you’ll be inspired to keep moving forward. And there’s nothing like crossing something off your accomplishment list for the week.
Track Your Goal
Not only do you want to break your resolution into smaller pieces, but you also want to find a way to track it. Set regular milestones so you can see your progress and keep moving forward to achieve your goals.
Sometimes change can be subtle so it’s important to see and acknowledge the steps you’re taking. It’s also highly motivating to cross off your to-do items so you can feel like you’re making real progress.
Making a diet, exercise, or mindset shift can be super challenging. If you’ve always done something one way, it can be really hard to simply flip a switch and start doing something completely different. That’s why it’s really helpful to have support.
Support can be a workout buddy who’s waiting for you at the gym at 6 am and will be pissed if you don’t show. It can be a good friend to call when you’re thinking of diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and want to make a better decision.
Hiring a trainer or coach can also be very helpful. Investing money in your future makes you more likely to show up since you now have skin in the game. You also have someone to hold you accountable, show you the way, and give you step-by-step assistance to reach your goals. I have a 6-week program to Ignite your health and happiness through diet, mindset, and positive action. It’s a group coaching program that is offered a few times a year. I’m also available for one-on-one coaching to help you reach your goals.
Reframe the Goal
Sometimes people need to reframe a resolution or goal to get better results. Instead of saying how much you hate your job and need a new one, take a step back. What is it you don’t like about your job? Are your passions and talents not being utilized? If so, look for all the ways you might use them. It could be in a new job, but it could also be in a new area at your current position that you take the initiative to develop. Or maybe you find that using your talents in a volunteer organization fulfills the need you have, or at least keeps you satisfied until you find a new job.
Fueling your passion goes a long way in changing your energy and how you feel. That in turn may reframe what you really want in your life.
Taking a deeper dive on your goal can also lead to a realization that the goal is really a family hand-me-down. You may have inherited a goal to be a lawyer or hairdresser because everyone in your family was one before you, but is that what you really want? Make sure that your goal is in fact yours and not someone else’s for you.
See the Results
Visualization can be a very powerful tool. Picture yourself with the new job, relationship, or body. How does it feel? Imagine every aspect of your day with your goal achieved. See colors, sense your energy level, happiness, and demeanor.
Feel it. See it. Embody it. Commit it all to memory and use these sensations to stay motivated to keep moving forward to achieve your goals.
Holding on to these thoughts as if your goal has already been achieved works really well with the law of attraction. You get more of what’s in your thoughts, so make sure it’s positive!
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.“
Keep Moving Forward After Failure
You’re going to run into obstacles on the way to achieving your goals. You’re going to have days where nothing goes right. You’re going to fail. The key is not to let failure completely derail you from achieving your bigger goal. Keep taking steps every day.
Albert Einstein said, “Failure is success in progress.”
Success can be seen in how well you respond to failure and how quickly you dust yourself off and commit to doing better the next day. Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Some days are going to be harder than others to move forward. On days where you’re lacking motivation, seek out inspiration.
Listen to a podcast or grab a book that discusses your goal. Find a Facebook group where people share their setbacks and breakthroughs like on Tasting Page. Having community and another perspective can help get you out of your temporary stagnation.
Go Easy On Yourself
While all of the above steps and checkpoints are important to achieving your goals, you also need to remember to be gentle with yourself.
Berating yourself for not making a short-term goal is not very motivating. Acknowledging the setback and trying to do better tomorrow is much more helpful.
When you need some more inspiration to stay motivated and keep moving forward to achieve your goals, read these quotes. Some are from fellow health and wellness writers, and some are from experts in their field. Use the ones that work best for you, and most importantly, don’t ever stop taking steps to your goals!
Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine. ― Roy T. Bennett
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ― Nelson Mandela
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. – Mark Twain
Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. – Zig Ziglar
It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default. – J.K. Rowling
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo
I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. -Lucille Ball
I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it. -Estée Lauder
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. - Brian Tracy
Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th. – Julie Andrews
The starting point of all achievement is desire. - Napoleon Hill
The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. -Denis Waitley
Two of the most important things to do when trying to stay motivated to keep a goal about healthy living are to take things one step at a time, realizing that every step you take in the right direction is a step towards your goal. Also, having positive, self-confident self-talk is very beneficial as well. Instead of thinking “I just can't do it,” remind yourself that you are on the right road. Time is going to go on regardless, you might as well feel better while it is passing. – Whole New Mom
One of the keys to staying motivated when I'm trying to achieve a goal is knowing why I'm striving for it in the first place. I start the process by figuring out my "why," so I can turn to it to keep me going when things get tough. - Happy in the Hollow
I love setting measurable goals, tracking progress, and observing trends because I'm a firm believer that what gets measured gets improved. If you've run into some hard times in your life, get it back on track by setting small incremental goals for yourself. From one day to the next, you often may not notice your changes or improvements because things happen so gradually. But looking back, if you’re working on your goals day by day, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your progress. That will also add fuel for your motivation. – Paws and Pines
Focus on the smaller steps that are more actionable instead of thinking too big picture. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and you had an entire diet plan, focus on something you can do today that will allow you to feel like you're making progress. Confucius said ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’ So even if all you did today is skip the cheesecake, avoiding the dessert has allowed you to potentially cut back on a few hundred calories you would have otherwise consumed! These little things are what create a lifestyle. – The Truth Ain’t Peachy