Working towards goals can be frustrating. Here are a few strategies that can help you achieve them!
1. Focus on additions not restrictions. Too often when we embark on a health journey, it immediately starts with the thoughts of the “things I will no longer be able to enjoy.” This can lead to binging on them before the “diet” starts and craving them once you do start. As soon as you say I can’t have X that is what you are focused on. No one wants to live life feeling deprived and restricted in their choices.
Instead focus on habits you can add into your life. For example, it could be adding a veggie with dinner, going for a walk in the morning, drinking water first thing in the morning… By focusing on the habits you are adding to your life, you will overtime do the habits you wanted to eliminate less and less without feeling restricted or deprived.
2. Take ownership of your choices. This one is huge! It gives YOU the POWER! If you are working with a dietitian, coach, doctor… it can be easy to give them the “power” and in a way blame them for not being able to have/do X (even if they never said you couldn’t do X). I have certainly been guilty of this with a few of my goals. The thing is you can have/do X. It is your choice. You have the power and freedom to choose what you eat and the activities you do.
3. Pay attention to your word choice and thought process. Do you say, “Oh man, I have to go workout today?” “I can’t have that.” “I suck.” “I will never be able to do that.” or “I can’t have anything on this menu!” Even if we are just thinking these things, they are so negative and not supportive of our goals. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, it is probably not helpful to say to yourself. A interesting exercise to explore this is to write down any negative thoughts you have throughout the day and then come up with a better phrase. It needs to be authentic to you. Here are some ideas:
If you think, “Oh man, I have to go workout today?” instead try, “I’m thankful I have the ability to workout today.” “I am choosing to work out today.” “I get to work out today.”
If you think, “I can’t have that.” you could turn it into, “I am choosing X over Y today.” or “I can have X if I would. Today I am going to choose Y.”
If you think “I suck” can become. “I working to become the person I want to be.” “I may not be 100% happy with myself, but I am working on it.” or “I do have qualities I like about myself.”
I you think, “I will never be able to do that.” can become, “I may not be able to do that now, but with some practice I can get better.”
If you think, “I can’t have anything on this menu!” reframe it to “What looks good and will help me reach my goals?” Chances are there is something on the menu!
4. Start small. Too often we get sucked into thinking we have to change everything at once. We get overwhelmed and then quite. Instead choose one habit to focus on that will help you get to your bigger goal. Let’s say your first habit is around drinking more water. If you are currently drinking 20oz/day and your ideal intake is 100oz. To go from 20oz to 100oz is a huge change. If you increase it to 40oz you will be consuming more water and making it a more manageable step. Another way to approach it would be to focus on adding a glass of water before drinking coffee in the morning. Whatever you decide make sure it achievable. If you aren’t achieving it, make it smaller until you are successful. Then work on building it up. In B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits, he wanted to floss and his initial step was to floss ONE tooth!
5. Celebrate small wins. We continue to do things that make us feel good. By celebrating small wins we are making our health journey more enjoyable and helping to associate feeling good with these choices. If your goal was to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before drinking your coffee, celebrate it when you achieve it. This can look different for each person. It can be as simple as a smile. You can do a little dance. You can give yourself a marble in a jar. You can pump your fist in the air. You can tell yourself, “Nice work!” whatever it is, it must be authentic to you and it must happen right after the event.
6. Take action to build momentum. Sometimes we just don’t feel like working out, taking the time to meal prep, or doing any other healthy habit we are working on. If we wait for the motivation, it may not come. Instead take a small action towards doing that habit. This can give you some momentum and help to create a little motivation. For example, if working out is on my agenda today and I am not feeling it, I will ask myself, “What’s the smallest thing I can do towards that goal?” In that case it is putting my workout clothes on. Once I put my workout clothes on, I think about the next step, foam rolling. Foam rolling isn’t hard, I can certainly do that. By that time I start foam rolling, I am feeling more motivated and get my workout in. After my workout I feel even more motivated to keep making choices in align with my goals.
What strategy do you think will be the most helpful for you?