Quick question –
Have you ever been in a situation where you know there’s something you need to do but you keep putting it off? It could be building a tree house, starting a book or a million other things, but you just keep kicking that can down the road until one day something finally hits you and you tell yourself, ‘I am going to get that done now.’
You get a tremendous burst of energy, you’re all charged up and you feel like you can go out and just conquer the world. So you set your goal, you get your plan together and you jump in with both feet…at first. And as time goes on, your project seems to dwindle. It starts to fade and you start to rationalize and make more and more excuses as to why it doesn’t necessarily need to be done now.
Or maybe New Year’s resolutions are your thing. On January 1st, millions of people resolve to get better, be better and do better. As a matter of fact, year after year three of the top four New Year’s resolutions are to:
- Exercise more,
- Lose weight and
- Eat healthier
But most people who make New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, give up on those resolutions by January 19th – on a day which is fittingly known as Quitters Day. And as many as 90% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by the middle of February.
So we find ourselves in this never ending ‘new year, new you’ cycle, where in the spring we strive to get in shape for the summer. But we relax those routines when we find a swimwear that covers up the areas we didn’t shape up. Then we give ourselves a pass around the holidays because well, it’s the holidays. And we tell ourselves that next year, next year is the year we’re really going to just buckle down and get in shape.
We all know that cycle.
Goals and Motivation: The Difference Between the Two
A couple of things all of these have in common is that they all have goals to a certain extent and they never get completed. The question is ‘why?’ There are actually multiple layers to the answer but motivation is at the heart of it all. Please don’t misunderstand. Specific goals are absolutely necessary, but goals are the destination. Motivation is the vehicle that gets you there. Goals do need to be SMART. They need to be:
- Realistic and
So New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, lose weight or eat healthier are all in the same category as limiting your intake for example. They’re all very good ideas but they’re all very vague ideas too (and really hard to track).
There’s a saying that I love, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That same concept applies here. An idea without a goal is just that, it’s just an idea. But setting a SMART goal to lose 10 pounds by June 1st will help put things in a completely different light. As a matter of fact it’s the foundation for your plan of attack.
The Art of Staying Motivated
My dad had a heart attack when he was 49 and died of heart disease when he was 52. I was pretty athletic until after I had both my girls, so I always considered myself to be in pretty decent shape.
And just so you know, if your mother or sister has a heart attack before she’s 65 or your father or brother has a heart attack before he’s 55, you might be at higher risk for heart attack too.
Knowing this and the closer I got to 49, the more I knew I needed to do whatever it took to make sure I didn’t have a heart attack like my dad did. I refused to become a statistic.
So I set a goal to get fit by my 50th birthday. Yes, I did reach that goal but here’s my point. I didn’t confuse my goal with my motivation. My goal was actually made up of several small goals but they were all smart goals. They were all specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound. That time has passed but my motivation to maintain the levels I set in those goals to help make sure I stay in shape hasn’t changed one bit.
How to Get Motivated When Excuses Creep In
Anytime I know I need to work out but I really don’t want to – I go back to my motivation. When I start to rationalize and make deals with myself about eating the way I should to help make sure my heart stays healthy – my motivation kicks in. Well, it slaps me in the face sometimes, but it definitely keeps me going.
My motivation for staying in shape is very simple. I want to do what my dad wasn’t able to – I want to see all my grandkids grow up. That’s it, that’s my motivation. And since neither one of my girls has kids yet, I’m in this for the long haul.
So when you’re ready to put your ideas into action here’s what you need to do.
1) Set SMART goals
Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound so that you can measure yourself against yourself. You can see your progress and celebrate your progress. But you have to be able to see it in order to make changes if changes are in fact necessary.
2) Find your motivation
Find whatever drives you, find that thing that will push you and sometimes even pull you along to make sure you cross the finish line and you reach those goals.
3) Buckle your seatbelt.
It just might be a very long ride.
 Haden, J. (2020, Jan. 3). A Study of 800 Million Activities Predicts Most New Year’sResolutions Will Be Abandoned on January 19: How to Create New Habits That Actually Stick. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/a-study-of-800-million-activities-predicts-most-new-years-resolutions-will-be-abandoned-on-january-19-how-you-cancreate-new-habits-that-actually-stick.html
 Sandmaier, M. (2007). The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute