There’s something magical about beginnings. Beginnings represent a clean slate and the opportunity to start fresh. For many of us, each new year marks this kind of beginning. We commit to new goals and a new way of being. We face the future with optimism and a can-do spirit.
But before long, the newness gives way to the sameness of the days that follow. January runs into February, and February bleeds into March. Before we know it, it is no longer a new year. And as the days march on, we sometimes find that our motivation has marched elsewhere.
Do you struggle with a nagging sense of disappointment over the goals you have set for yourself? Do you sometimes feel you’ve blown it, then consider settling back in to your comfort zone?
It’s tough to keep the magical feeling of beginnings throughout the year. And motivation does ebb and flow. But true commitment rides these ebbs and flows and keeps us in the game all year long. If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, here are three “mental reframes” you can use to help you retain your commitment to positive change all year long.
1. Break your Beginnings Down
A new year is exciting, but it’s just a way of keeping track of time and the seasons. Within each year, we have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, and yes, 525,600 minutes. Why not look at each month, week, day, and minute as a beginning?
Use a day timer or calendar and flip through the pages. What will you be doing in May? What will you have achieved by August? Who will you be in December? What do you want to achieve tomorrow? This evening? 7:00? 4:00? Five minutes from now? Break it down into whatever chunk of time you need to give yourself a fresh start.
Viewing yourself in your future helps you appreciate all you can do in the now to achieve your goals. Forward momentum results from the daily, weekly, and monthly rituals we develop that set us up for a year – and lifetime – of success.
2. Recognize Resistance to Change
There’s something that goes on beneath our conscious awareness as we try to make a change in our lives. It has to do with our hard-wired resistance to change.
As humans, we crave stability, and all beginnings represent some type of change. Which means all change – even positive change – can be stressful. Think about a time you faced a big change – a new house, car, job, or relationship. Even as you moved forward, there was a nagging, underlying fear, or a moment of panic. You may have even asked yourself if you should stay where you are – safe, secure, and risk-free.
This is a normal and healthy reaction to change. It’s the part of you that wants to keep you safe. Acknowledge it and honor it. But also acknowledge and honor the part of you that wants to expand your horizons and to live a healthier life.
Believe it or not, resistance to change can even apply to weight loss or improved fitness. Our image of self is deeply ingrained. We sometimes fear success more than we fear failure, because success takes us someplace new – and unknown.
If you feel stuck, ask yourself if you are in some way resisting change. Recognize your resistance to change, and push through it. You are still YOU – you are simply striving to be the best and healthiest version of YOU possible!
3. What’s Your Weak Link?
When you go off course, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, ask yourself some questions to try to find the weak link in your journey. Then take steps to strengthen that link. Here are some areas you might want to consider, and some questions you might want to ask yourself.
Desire – Is my desire strong enough? What is my “why,” my reason for making this change? How will this change impact my life? How will I benefit from this change? How will those I love benefit?
Dig down deep to find your “why.” Then make your “why” front and center daily. Remind yourself of all the long-term benefits, and become committed to this vision of yourself.
Knowledge/Skills – Do I have all the information and skills I need to make this change? Where is my knowledge or ability lacking? How can I brush up in this area?
When it comes to wellness, we may need more education on good nutrition, sustainable eating habits, or meal ideas. Maybe we need more familiarity and skill with equipment at the gym. Ask yourself what information or abilities you need to support your commitment to change. Then go get it.
Reinforcement – Do I have the support I need? Who are my cheerleaders? Who holds me accountable? How am I reinforcing what I’ve learned and the gains I’ve made?
No matter how unknown the territory may be, we have everything we need to find our way. Expect setbacks and obstacles, but believe in your resourcefulness to meet the challenges that lie ahead. This includes calling on others for support as needed. Some days you may need a listening ear, other days you may need a swift kick. Perhaps you need a trainer or a coach. Lean on others and find whatever reinforcement you need to help you stick to the rituals that lead to positive change.
No Matter What, Keep on Going
As you face the days, weeks, and months ahead, don’t let a date on the calendar tell you it’s too late or that you’ve already blown it. Don’t wait for Monday morning, or January 1st. See all the beginnings in your day, week, month, and year. Push through your resistance to change. Evaluate what fell short when you go off course, then gather whatever reinforcement you need to get back on track.
March is Chapter 3 of the Book of 2021. What will this month’s chapter be called? How does the plot take shape? Who are the supporting characters? Now go ahead and write your story – plot twists and all, it’s going to be brilliant.
Alison Jones is a Health and Life Coach at Merritt Clubs' Nutrition and Wellness Department. Click here to learn more about our programs or to contact any of our coaches.