I have been on several journeys throughout my life. I’ve had to change my diet because of my allergies. I’ve had goals to exercise more, spend less money, be more productive, eat less ice cream, and the list goes on. But, change is never easy. Old habits are tough to break and new habits are tough to form. Like anything worth doing in life, whether you’re looking for ways to stay motivated to work out or ways to stay motivated to eat less sugar, it takes time. I’ve learned a few things over my years so here are my 5 best tips to stay motivated and stay on track.
Staying motivated and staying on track is one of the most difficult things to do in life. It tests your limits. It tests your dedication. It tests your self-control.
And, oh wow, those tests BURN! They burn you to your very core!
…But, you’ll feel so amazing once you reach your finish line.
1. IT’S OKAY TO FALL OFF THE BANDWAGON
Life happens. We are set in our ways. We are easily susceptible to temptation. Curveballs are thrown at you from random directions. We’re human and no matter how strong you are, sometimes, something bulldozes you off track. Maybe, it’s that hyped-up item that just arrived on the display at Sephora or it’s the start of the holiday season and you can never say no to that second slice of pie when grandma offers it to you. Or, it could be something more serious like an injury where you are forced to stop exercising for a few weeks.
Whatever it is, DON’T PANIC and DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT!
It’s easy to feel shame, weakness, or guilt but it’s okay to fall off the bandwagon. I have more times than I can remember. I love food. It brings me so much joy and it transports me to a place that really can’t compare to anything else. When I had to choose between a bowl of spaghetti bolognese and the stability of my allergies, I usually took the spaghetti even if I felt guilty and ill after. But, as I progressed further along in my journey, I began to spend less and less time in that negativity because I wanted to change and I wouldn’t be able to move forward unless I jumped back on that bandwagon.
Mindset is everything. It is the key to staying focused and reaching your goals. Take the time to sit with those difficult emotions but don’t dwell on them for too long. Otherwise, the things that you want to do will never get done.
2. REMEMBER YOUR WHY
It can be very challenging to think about the end of the finish line. The goals that we have in life are often months or years away. Would I love to pay off my credit card debt tomorrow? Of course I would! However, that’s just not possible.
So, if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon or just feeling a bit blah about your progress, try going back to the beginning instead.
Why did you start this journey and create this goal? What, initially, lit that fire within you? It could be one reason or multiple reasons. It could even be as simple as a feeling such as, ‘I’m tired of feeling like I’m not in control.’
Remembering your why is a powerful thing and it is, arguably, one of the best tips to stay motivated. It brings up strong emotions and strong visions of the future so hold on tight to your why and it will lead you to where you want to go.
If you need help with this question, feel free to check out this post on how to figure out your why.
3. SUPPORT SYSTEM
I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s the truth. Surrounding yourself with people who support your goals is an incredibly important way to stay motivated. It helps to combat self-doubt and other negative thoughts that could prevent you from reaching your goal.
This support could come from a partner, a sister, or a best friend. It could also be a MeetUp or Facebook group, or even this little Progress Pill family. Sometimes, the people closest to you may not put you in the right mindset. They may discourage you. They may not believe in you. They may tempt you to fall off the bandwagon. But, you are never alone and you don’t have to go on this journey alone because there are thousands of people out there who are working on the same things as you.
Whatever the journey may be, find that person or group who cares about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and can foster positivity. They will hold you accountable. They will celebrate your wins with you. Most importantly, they will be there to hold you up when you need it most. They will inspire you and tell you that no matter what stands in your way, you’ll reach your goal.
4. KEEP IT IN PLAIN SIGHT
To avoid being led astray by negative thoughts or temptations, it’s always helpful to have reminders laying around to keep you motivated. Here are a few ideas if you’re a newbie:
Visualization is an extremely powerful tool that allows you to focus on how you want to feel and what you want to accomplish. A vision board is a tool that brings those goals to life so that you can see what’s ahead of you and push to get there every day. Also, it’s a lot of fun to create since it’s a collage of words and photos!
If you like more structure and work better with linear and concrete deadlines or goals, I would suggest a roadmap. This is particularly helpful for paying off debt.
You can create your own roadmap by drawing a succession of squares to represent a month, payment, or milestone. Each time you make a payment or hit a milestone, you simply color in a square. It’s very satisfying to see those squares fill up!
Grab a journal, a notepad, some sticky notes and leave them by your nightstand or at your desk. If you prefer the digital route, I recommend setting Google Keep or Trello as your browser homepage. I usually start by jotting down ‘my why’ for a quick reference, then my goal or milestone and any other tips that I gather along the way.
This one may also be a no-brainer! Books serve to educate but also to inspire. You can gain step-by-step knowledge about best practices from industry leaders and, most importantly, you can read first-hand accounts of someone, just like you, who has struggled and overcome their obstacles to succeed. For me, those are the most interesting to dive into because it makes you feel like you’re not alone.
If your past time includes watching Youtube or reading blogs, it’s helpful to start incorporating content related to your goal. Once you start down that rabbit hole, you’ll receive more and more recommendations or ads for similar content that’s difficult to ignore.
This is my favorite way to get inspired. It’s incredibly impactful to hear someone speak or write candidly about their own experiences. Again, it creates a sense of community and creates a sense of relief in that someone else has been exactly where you are now. You don’t have to wander aimlessly or feel shame, doubt or loneliness.
5. STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Creating a schedule for specific tasks or routines related to your goal is an amazing cue to trigger motivation and create a positive habit loop. If you’re on a fitness journey, choose a specific time to exercise or leave Sunday afternoon available for meal prep for the week. For me, 5pm is my exercise cue. I see that hour and I get excited because it means that my work day is complete and I get to burn off any stress from the day when I exercise. We are all creatures of habit so why not set aside some time to do something beneficial for your progress?
Staying motivated doesn’t come naturally to most when trying to make changes. It consistently requires work and finding the techniques that are best for you. A visualization board may not work for you or you may hate reading and that’s okay. How to stay motivated ultimately comes down to what inspires you every day to stay on track or get back on that track.