Staying motivated even when you’ve already blown your goals for the year


We are not even two weeks into a new year and I’ve seen it already… individuals frustrated because they have either already failed on “New Year’s resolutions” or they have given up ambition goals they set with the best of intentions last December.  When this occurs, individuals often either just give up or they simply cannot motivate themselves to re-start.

So, is there a way to stay motivated when you’ve already failed so early in the new year?  What practical steps can you take to keep going?  Though I am not a personal expert on sticking to those New Year resolutions we make, I have listed a few thoughts that might help you either stay on track or get back on track if you’ve had an early derailment:

  1. Take a mulligan – One of my favorite golf terms is “mulligan.”  A mulligan is essentially a do-over… a second chance… a fresh start.  When golfing with friends, it is common that on the first hole, if you don’t like  your very first shot, you can have a mulligan, a second try with no penalty.  That way, you at least have a chance to begin your round without the bad vibes of a terrible first shot (that is, assuming your mulligan shot was better).  If you have missed a goal early, give yourself a mulligan and start over.
  2. Focus on your mission, not your missed goal – We often become frustrated with missed goals without realizing that a goal is merely a small piece of the greater mission.  For example, a common resolution at the beginning of the year is to lose weight.  So, when you fail to make desired progress in January, we become frustrated and lose heart.  Individuals often give up because their viewpoint is too short-term.  In reality, when you attempt to lose weight, you are seeking a larger target… that is, you are truly trying to become more healthy overall.  Sure, losing weight is an important part of that, but if you take your eyes off the greater mission of a more healthy lifestyle, your frustration with missing a short-term target may appear overwhelming.  Keep your focus on the larger objective or mission.  When you focus on the longer-term objective rather than daily or weekly targets, you may become less frustrated and more motivated to persevere.
  3. Re-adjust (this time more realistically) – We often fail to achieve objectives early in the year simply because they were not realistic in the first place.  For example (back to our weight loss scenario), some individuals may target a 20-pound weight loss in January.  Then, when they only lose 7-pounds, they become frustrated and look at their efforts as a failure.  More realistically, setting a target that is more achievable may keep you motivated.  I have found that early in such an effort, by setting a very comfortable goal early that is easily achieved, provides an early success that breeds more motivation and more success later.  Start more slowly, then ramp it up as you gain momentum.
  4. Laugh it off, but “get back in the saddle” – Humor can often disarm failure.  For example, when learning to ride a horse, you might fall off a time or two the first few times trying.  If you can laugh it off and get back up, you will gain confidence and skill that makes it easier and easier.  Put early failures aside quickly and move on.
  5. Enlist an accountability partner – If you experience early goal failures, it might be helpful to enlist someone else that can come alongside to assist you.  It might be motivating to have a running partner, for example.  A friend or partner that can challenge you, support you, laugh with you, or lift you back up is a valuable tool for achieving success.

I think my point today is this… Don’t give up!  Yes, it is early and you have fallen, but pick yourself up and get back at it.  A calendar is just an arbitrary marker.  Think about the suggestions above, pick one that might help and get going.  Whether you are trying to lose weight, live a more healthy life, enhance your own abilities, spend more time with family, or whatever, there is no bad time to begin anew.  Just go do it.  In the end, you’ll be glad you were persistent.

Have a fabulous day!


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