So you have found a way to make your life better. You go head first into the task and do a great job right from the off. You may have started that diet and eaten only salads, perhaps you did not skip leg day at the gym or you may have declined the offer of a beer after work and opted for an orange juice instead. However, after Monday’s burst of inspiration, Tuesday morning offers up some grim realities of the task at hand and you stop your attempt at improving your life. Reasons vary for stopping, work gets too hard, you receive bad news or you simply cannot be bothered. Whatever the reason, you end up feeling bad and often even worse than you felt before you started your foolproof plan towards a better life. Whatever the goal, whatever the reason and however you are feeling, the fact is that you owe it to yourself to actually go and out and pursue these goals and dreams. With this in mind, I have devised a few ways you can get back on the horse and approach your goals again. These are tried and tested by someone who often fails and finds excuses; hopefully a combination of some or all of them can inspire you to continue in your efforts for a better life.
Reassess how you are going to achieve goal
One of the biggest reasons for people’s failure is simply the amount they wish to achieve. You may have the brilliant goal of living a healthy life, but you have to face what you are up against. If you smoke, take drugs and eat junk food you are really going to struggle to give up all of these at once. Humans are habitual by nature and stopping all of these things not only affects our bodies but also our minds. We often find ourselves relying on habits in day to day life and any goals that interfere with these habits face tough opposition. What I suggest, like many others, is to do one thing at a time or ease yourself slowly into the task. If you want to eat healthier, perhaps eat healthy meals two times a day with one unhealthier meal at lunch. After two or three weeks you could then move onto three healthy meals a day, but still allow yourself to indulge in a small pudding after dinner. If you want to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger but have yet to ever lift a barbell, start off slowly, going to the gym twice a week. Once you get over the pain and get used to the gym environment, move onto three or four days a week, and gradually increase your workout routine. What these examples are trying to drive home is that if you fail at your goals it may actually be due to the workload you have given yourself. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes doing things gradually can provide better results.
Failure does not mean you’ve failed
Forgive the logical inconsistency above for a moment while I explain. If you are giving up smoking, have succeeded for four days but cave and have a cigarette in the heat of stress this is not the end of the world. You have lasted four days, something you could never have imagined before! It is easy to accept defeat when you fail in instances like these but do not forget your successes beforehand. You have just hit a bump in the road in an otherwise great journey towards a better life, do not be disheartened and do not use this as an excuse to give up your goal altogether.
This idea is so obvious it is easy to forget. We have cheat days in diets and weekends off after a hard weeks work. Yet when approaching tasks for a better life we decline the need to take time to relax and give ourselves a pat on the back for doing a great job. Of course, this does not mean that we should order a takeaway after a salad at lunch, but perhaps you can buy some clothes you have had your eye on or go to the cinema with friends. In effect, this is positive reinforcement and it can really help you stay on track and keep on top of your goals.
Many plans for a better life come when we are in a state of pure inspiration and thirst for life. Alternatively, it can come from times where we are feeling rather sad and want to make a change. There are other origins for these plans for sure, however, what is common in many of these plans is to start the following Monday. “I need a new job; I’ll start the search on Monday.” “I want a better relationship with my friends; I’ll make plans with them on Monday.” The thing is, Monday comes around and your inspiration is wearing thin. Most people have a great ability to make excuses and put tasks off until they are forgotten. Think about your goal, make sure your break it down into bitesize chunks and act now.
Reword and rethink your goals
This is more specific to food-related goals but can be applied to other goals as well. ‘Diet’ is one of the worst words in English. It has such a stigma attached to it that brings about a feeling of foreboding, struggle and most importantly it implies that there is an end. It is better to reimagine your goal as a lifestyle change. You are not starting a diet, you are simply changing how you live for the better. When writing a novel, the phrase ‘writing a novel’ can seem incredibly daunting. If you reword this activity to something simple like ‘creative writing’, you are far less likely to be put off. When you reword goals and activities to something less daunting or with less of stigma, you are also rethinking the goals, changing your approach and outlook on the task at hand. This rewording and rethinking can really reduce the risk of failure due to angst and foreboding.
Finally, never downplay the importance of support. Tell your friends, family or partner that you are trying to achieve this goal or that goal. They can offer support or council. They can urge you on at the start of your goals where you may find it difficult. They can encourage you to keep at it when you are in the depth of achieving your goal but lacking the drive. Do not underestimate the importance of support and do not forget to thank them!
So, there is a brief list of ways that can get you back on track with your goals of living a better life. Failures will come at some point during your goals but do not be disheartened and certainly do not think you do not deserve to pursue these dreams. As always, feel free to comment or share. Good luck!