Millions of us make resolutions at the beginning of each year but studies have shown that very few manage to make these goals stick in the long run. In fact, the vast majority of us have already abandoned our resolutions by the end of January, so we thought this would be the perfect time to give you some tips and tricks to give your motivation a boost.
Forming healthy habits takes dedication and hard work, something a lot of us lack the motivation for when we’re drained from a hard day in the office and the daunting prospect of another early morning alarm. However, there are ways you can make constructive changes to help reach your goals and stick to your resolutions, even when your stress levels are high and your motivation is at an all-time low.
Retrain Your Brain
The first thing we’d suggest is to consider your new habits as an ongoing life change, rather than a New Year’s resolution. There’s something a little gimmicky about the notion of only making a change when the new year arrives and there’s often a subconscious knowledge that these resolutions will fade away after a few weeks. Reframing your thought process might seem insignificant but it can completely change your attitude.
Keep It SMART
Your goals, that is. You might not have heard the phrase SMART since school but it’s extremely helpful when it comes to setting achievable, realistic goals both in and out of the workplace. It’s split up as:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time-based
Try to ensure each one of your new healthy habits ticks the five criteria above and you’re already poised for success.
Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate the point of SMART objectives. Say your goal is to pick up your long-forgotten hobby of writing. It’s a great notion but a little vague, so let’s turn it into a SMART objective so you can see the difference.
‘I want to write more’ is transformed into the SMART goal of ‘I want to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of 2017’. It’s specific (the first draft of a novel), measurable, achievable (with a lot of hard work and probably a surplus of coffee!), realistic and time-based (it must be finished by the end of 2017).
A focused goal is a lot easier to work on than a vague goal, so pull out your list of resolutions and start making them SMART.
Introducing… Micro Goals!
Any life change you hope to make, whether it’s drinking more water or switching to vaping, should be taken one step at a time. It’s important to always visualise the end goal but breaking this goal into bite-sized chunks makes it seem far less daunting and much more achievable. For example, if your goal is to be more active then start off with one exercise session a week, then gradually increase the sessions and intensity as it becomes part of your routine. If one of your aims is to decrease your e-liquid strength then it’s the same principle: try the lower strength for a day, then go back to your current strength, back to the lower strength for three days and then switch back to the higher strength for the next couple. This approach is often referred to as the ‘micro goal’ method and it’s one of the most effective ways to stick to new habits.
One Habit at a Time
A common mistake that all of us make when it comes to forming healthy habits is to overwhelm ourselves with too many changes at once. You might want to be fit, improve your nutrition, drink more water and switch to vaping but if you try to make all of these changes in one go, you’re doomed (unless you have willpower of steel… in which case, you might not need this post!).
Choose one goal to start with and don’t introduce any other significant life changes until you’ve mastered your first goal. Once it’s become a default part of your life, try your hand at the next one. It might be a longer process than you initially hoped for but you’re likely to enjoy much more positive results in the long run. Remember, these habits a long-term life changes, not five minute quick fixes.
Remember Why You Started
All of us suffer from a dip in motivation from time to time and it’s in these moments that we’re most likely to revert back to unhealthy habits, seeing them as a sort of comfort blanket.
It’s a good idea to dig deep and think about emotions that can drive you back into the arms of your unwanted habits. Whether it’s boredom, stress, happiness or unhappiness, we all have certain triggers that weaken our willpower and leave us scrabbling for familiar comforts and routines, even if they’re self-destructive.
When you feel like giving up, remember why you started. Keep your end goal visualised either in your head or on paper (or even a secret Pinterest board, if it’s visuals that spur you on) and refer back to it when you need an extra boost. Recording your successes, no matter how small (ten days of vaping, one week of sticking to your healthy eating plan) is another great idea; it gives you something positive to look back on to see how far you’ve already come.
We hope the tips above have helped to renew your motivation for the coming months but now we want to hear from you. What are your top tips to stay motivated and make the switch to healthy habits? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you so send us your stories on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll be sure to share them.