Guess what? You already took the first step. The fact that you clicked on this post means that no matter how much you feel like giving up or can’t remember why you wanted to reach your goal in the first place, part of you still does. There is hope.
I’ve been there and I know that it gets particularly tough to stay motivated when obstacles appear. Whether it’s coming back from a glutinous vacation or wondering if there is anyone even reading my posts (besides you, Mom) and if it’s worth it to keep juggling the blog along side my full-time day job and freelance writing. It’s easy to get lost in the middle of it all and feel like I’m barely treading water. Then, something happens. I can’t tell you what exactly, because it’s organic and unpredictable. But, something happens to remind me why I started the goal in the first place.
Sometimes it’s realizing how strong I’ve become. Sometimes it’s discovering new research about the connection between food, mood, and eating behavior that needs to be shared. And, sometimes it’s just my dog doing something so strange that it simultaneously makes me laugh and jolts me out of my negative mood. Whatever it is, something always happens to change my mind and it will for you too – as long as you don’t give up before it does.
The point is, I know what it feels like to start questioning your goals or talking yourself out of sticking to them when a new obstacle presents itself. It’s a very strong feeling and can easily make you doubt your own abilities and convince yourself that it’s not worth the effort. What I’ve realized is that this happens to everyone. The people who are successful in whatever it is you’re trying to achieve do NOT have easier circumstances than you. Their only secret weapon is accepting that obstacles are just a part of reaching any goal. Because of this, they have a plan in place so that when it happens it doesn’t knock them down completely.
So how do you learn to navigate obstacles and keep your eyes on the prize? Here are a few tricks I use when I’m feeling separated from my goals and my “why”.
Get some perspective.
Obstacles can easily send you into doubt mode, turning your focus inward. When you’re all caught up in your head, it’s easy to forget about the world around you. I’ve found myself so obsessed with feeling bad about something I ate or seeking out food to numb my feelings that I get channel vision and forget just how small I am when compared to the universe. In that moment, it’s easy to lose sight of what I want to achieve. But, when I think about how big the universe is it allows me to look at whatever it is I’m struggling with from a new perspective. Suddenly, the thing pulling me away from my goal begins to lose some of its power.
Write yourself a letter.
I know this may sound a little woo-woo for some of you, but, for me, it helps. The thing is, you have to write it when you’re on track. The best time would be when you have momentum and can clearly see your goal in your head.
For example, before I went on a cruise last year, I wrote a letter to my post-vacation self. I put the letter in a visible place in my kitchen, so I was sure to see it right when I got home.
What was in this letter? I wrote down how I felt in that moment (before vacation/while on track) and why I wanted to accomplish my goal.
My goal? Forgiveness. To allow myself to enjoy my vacation, food and all, and not let it derail my overall weight/strength goals. From previous experience, I knew how it felt to come home from a vacation where you ate things you don’t normally eat (and drank more wine than one person needs) and then feel like you’ve fallen so far off course that you use it as an excuse to give up or punish yourself for everything you ate. I didn’t want to do that this time. I wanted to enjoy my vacation AND stay on track. Forgiving myself allows me to move forward instead of ruminating about things I can’t change.
Keep in mind that your letter will likely be completely different from mine. Everyone has different motivations and different goals and the only way this will work is if you write it authentically. A few things you could include:
- Remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve and let yourself off the hook for whatever it was that made you pick up this letter in the future.
- Be kind. Be empathetic. Write to yourself as if you were writing to your best friend or your child if they were in the same situation.
Once you write the letter, put it away. Next time you feel hopeless or are questioning your ability to keep going, read the letter. There’s something about re-reading something you wrote to yourself when you were in a different place mentally. It can put you right back into that mindset.
When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to take on too much at once. I get it. You want to lose the weight or start a new business or get your life back on track, but taking on too much is the easiest way to fail. The momentum you feel at the beginning will eventually wane and that’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you aren’t on the right path – it means you’re human. The kind of momentum you have at the beginning isn’t sustainable long term, which is why you have to simplify. This can be hard. You may feel like if you’re only focusing on one thing at a time, it will take forever to get everything done. The thing is, if you try to do everything at once NOTHING will get done. At least not well.
Reevaluate your goal.
Part of human nature is to grow, change, and adapt – no matter how much I fight it at times. As a result, it is absolutely possible that what you once wanted isn’t what you want anymore. That’s OKAY. If you’ve been struggling with motivation towards a certain goal for a while now, maybe it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. Ask yourself if this goal is truly something you still believe in and want. If it is, great. Keep going with the suggestions above. If it isn’t, also great. Now, figure out what it is you DO want to achieve. You may find clarity just by giving yourself the choice.
If you have any other tips or tricks for staying on track and finding motivation let me know. I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments below or post a picture on Instagram with #dietconfessionals.