Why motivation doesn’t work & what to focus on instead
The beginning of a new year is always exciting from setting new goals, creating a vision board, going through a goal planning challenge to feeling like it’s a fresh start and having hope again for the future…
Oftentimes, that excitement starts to fade in about 2 weeks and we hit what I call “the mid-January slump”…
Reality sets in that some of the changes we wanted to make are going to be a lot harder than we thought. Our old habits and thought patterns seem stronger than our resolve to change is. Then the fear and that icky feeling of discomfort creep back in.
Life happens (as it inevitably does), other people, situations and circumstances interrupt the new routines we are working on creating.
Then we get off track and our new “ideal day” routine seems like just a dream.
Before we know it, we start feeling like a failure and wondering what’s the point of trying to change?
Can anyone relate? What do you do when the motivation and excitement wear off?
Well, the truth is that MOTIVATION IS A MYTH… We can’t rely on motivation to get us anywhere. We can’t wait to feel excited or in the mood again or for another new year, month, moon or whatever…
We have to work on becoming disciplined and choosing progress over perfection and to try, try again.
Trust me, I get how hard it can be.
One big goal and new habit I’m working on for 2021 is to be more physically active. I set a goal to work out 300 days this year. (Which is about 240 more than I did last year, lol). This means I need to work out 5 or 6 days every week.
This is a MASSIVE change for me. I knew when setting this goal that I might not hit it. BUT if I hit just 1/2 that goal (150 days working out). That is a major improvement over last year and I’ll still see a lot of benefits from it.
I did really good the first week and ½. I actually worked out 8 of 10 days – woo hoo! Then last week I didn’t feel well and had a lot of exhaustion so I only worked out 1 day.
It would be easy for me to say “well, I’m never going to succeed at this, I might as well give up now. I’m already behind on my goal. This is too hard.”
(Thankfully, I’ve learned to be more kind, loving and gracious to myself and to not expect perfection.)
Instead, today I got up and worked out and celebrated my progress.
I’m committed to creating this new habit and improving my health all year long. I’m not committing to perfection or expecting it to be easy.
Why is it SO hard to make positive changes?
Remember that our brain’s job is to take care of us and keep us safe. Anytime we try to change what feels safe (or comfortable) – our brains are going to resist this and always try to go back to our safe space (or comfort zone). Yes, even if the habit or thought we are changing is actually positive and better for us than our comfort zone.
Recent studies have shown that it takes on average between 60 and 90 days to implement a new habit or routine.
So if you’re ready to give up now, friend, you are only 18 days in and shouldn’t be expecting so much from yourself!
Creating new habits, changing our thoughts and implementing positive changes takes time, patience and consistency. Not perfection.
It’s not about getting everything right out of the gate or in the first week or 2nd week. It doesn’t mean we won’t mess up on Day 10, 20, 70 or even Day 1,085…
The way to create positive change is to focus on:
- taking things ONE DAY at a time
- doing our best and continuing to get better
- focusing on progress, not perfection
- trying again each new day
And if we have a bad day or several bad days, or weeks, to start over and try to do better again each new day.
Go back to the goals you set for this year, spend some time looking at that vision board, anchor in the person you want to be, the habits & activities you want to do and the life you want to have.
Focus on progress not perfection and simply trying to do better today than you did yesterday.