We all know that perfection does not exist, yet we strive for it like anything less is unacceptable. This generally seems to lead to feelings of stress, guilt or shame if there is a miss-step but making an effort to change for the better should be celebrated, not punished. I’m definitely guilty of this too. I tend to show a lot more compassion towards others than I do myself, especially when it comes to academics. But how much better would you feel if you celebrated every little win instead of beating yourself up for every minor lapse? Probably a lot better and much more likely to want to continue.
Behaviour change is a difficult process. It requires a lot of conscious effort even in the best of times, never mind the worst, where stress and environmental cues can wreak havoc on your progress. Willpower alone is often not enough to keep you going, so try not to get discouraged; try not to let minor things derail you. Use them as a tool to plan better for next time and keep going. You can do it.
Here are a few suggestions on ways to help make the behaviour change process as simple as possible:
- Clarify your goals – Get clear on your why. Why is this change important to you? What would it mean to you to accomplish it? I’d also suggest writing it down. I find writing it down makes it more “real” and is something that is easy to refer back to when motivation is low.
- Make a plan – Having an end goal is great but it’s hard to stay motivated when something seems so far off into the future. By making a plan and setting smaller milestones, you can revel in your progress and feel your confidence increase with each small success, propelling you onward. It’ll also be less overwhelming in smaller chunks and help to overcome that paralyzing feeling.
- Implement your plan – Get started and track your progress. There are tons of ways to do this. You can use a calendar, journal, checklists, phone app, money in a jar, etc… If it’s not a tangible goal, you may need to be a bit more creative in how you track results. Try them out. Find whatever way works best for you and is the most motivating.
- Get support – Share your goals and find an accountability partner to help keep you on track. This can be a family member, friend, significant other, coach or group member. It’s a lot harder to skip something when someone else is counting on you and a lot more motivating when someone believes you can accomplish your goal, even if you don’t quite believe it yourself yet.
- Succeed – Don’t forget to celebrate your wins. Take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishments, whether big or small. Reward yourself for your hard work; you deserve it.
We need to learn to give ourselves a break. Lapses are part of the process much like failure is part of success. The difference is that to succeed, you have to keep going despite the lapses, not give up because of them.
What’s the most important goal or project you’re currently working on?
Let me know in the comments.