How You Can Actually Stick to Your Goals in 2016
I don’t know if anyone’s told you this before but… change is freaking hard. If it wasn’t so hard, we’d all be able to become the people we ultimately want to be. All of us want to be better versions of ourselves; we want to be healthier, stronger, more creative, and kinder.
Each year around this time we set goals to become those people. And, generally speaking, a year later, we’re the exact same people, except maybe with a few more sports bras and a gym membership we never use, but I digress…
Why is creating new behavior and lasting change so freaking hard?
Behaviors Mirror Self-Belief
Here’s the thing no one ever tells you about making real change – none of it is going to stick unless you first work on your self-belief. That is, who you believe you truly are as a person is how you act in the world – period.
You can declare to your family and co-workers that you are going to go to the gym 5 days a week and lose 25 pounds by May, but if deep down you TRULY believe you are lazy, you will never reach your goals. If deep down you TRULY believe you can’t get up an hour earlier for a workout, you never will.
So, if you want to stick to your goals this year, you’ve got to first convince yourself that you are capable of the new desired behavior. Your unwanted behaviors are a reflection of who you currently believe you are. Though it’s a simple enough concept to grasp, it is not easy to convince yourself you are anyone other than who you currently are being.
But there is a way…
Focus On Changing Your Beliefs
Let’s stick with the classic New Year’s resolution/goal many of us make year after year: losing weight. We come out of the gate setting ourselves up for failure because we choose the wrong goal. We choose a goal that is based on an ‘event metric.’ Losing 25 pounds is really an event (ta-da I did it!), this goal in no way speaks to our current belief system and how we operate and how we are going to, day by day, reach the event.
So, the first thing you’ve got to do is set goals that are focused more on creating a new belief system and hence, a new behavior. We do this by focusing on behavioral goals instead that will, over time, create a new belief and identity.
Once you change your beliefs about yourself, it will become easier and easier to change your habits and actions and reach those event metrics we all tend to focus on.
The Proof is in the Small Victories
To change your self-belief you first need to decide on WHO you want to be. That’s different than WHAT you want to be. A lot of us want to be thinner – that’s the WHAT, but the WHO is “I want to be the person that easily makes healthy choices and loves my body.”
Great – there’s your real goal for 2016 – not losing 25 pounds. See the difference?
Now, how do we take that goal and reach it? Well, reaching that goal means believing that about yourself, that you ARE the kind of person who loves their body and makes healthy choices. We believe this by focusing only on actions that backup this identity and NOT focusing on actions that don’t.
In other words, every time you make a healthy choice, celebrate that victory… feel how good it feels to be that person. And each time you slip up – DO NOT GIVE IT A SECOND THOUGHT – LITERALLY.
Pretend you’re on a car trip – the victories are the natural scenery, the slip ups are the billboards. When you’re on a car trip, don’t you naturally ooh and aah at the rolling hills dotted with cows, the majestic mountains and meandering rivers? And when you see the countless billboards and signs along the highways you forget each one as soon as they pass – they’re just not as important or memorable as all of those pretty lakes and forests and sunsets behind old, white church steeples.
Do that with your victories and slip-ups. Ooh and aah over the victories and forget the slipups as soon as they are behind you. By celebrating every small victory, you will prove to yourself you ARE the person you want to be over and over again. That’s powerful stuff.
Take a Second Look
As we start a new year, I encourage all of you to take a second look at the goals you’ve set for yourself and redefine them into WHO goals instead of WHAT goals. Don’t think about results – think about behavior.
Becoming a new you won’t happen simply by being motivated. We’re all motivated on January 4th to reach those goals, but because ‘we the people’ don’t change, our behaviors don’t change, and those amazing results are never seen. So, forget about being motivated and simply focus on who you are now, and who you’d like to be this same time next year.
If you want to become a better version of yourself and you want change to become easier and lasting, then focus on your self-beliefs, choose new ones, celebrate every small victory and new behaviors will happen – they have to.
Happy New You!