Guest Post by Sophia Smith
They always tell us that the first step is the most important one, but that’s not true. Starting is, in fact, the easiest part of the journey. The real obstacle, the thing where most of us actually fail, is sticking to it day after day. Following through with our plan even when we’re tired and grumpy, even when we see no real progress, even when we’ve had a terrible day and just want to revert to our old, bad habits.
So, how do we defeat that demon? How do we stay persistent and motivated our whole lives?
Small goals vs. big goals
What is your end goal? Lower your blood pressure and stop panting each time you climb a flight of stairs? Slim down and reach a certain weight? Learn to like yourself more? While the big goal is essential, it’s a little too vague and “far away” for you to use it as the only source of motivation.
Coming where you want to be is going to be a fairly long journey, and if you want to keep the finish line in sight, it’s important to pepper the road with small, more easily achievable things. Daily and weekly promises such as “today I won’t say a single negative thing about myself” and “I will exercise each day this week” are important because they help you feel like you’re making progress. Besides, there’s nothing quite like fulfilling a promise to yourself to give you confidence and push you forward.
Make sure your plan is actually sustainable
You’re going to start cooking every day, and you will only ever eat organic fruits and veggies and go to that gym across the town that your friend swears helped her tone her butt to perfection. Cool! But then you start doing it, and realise that it’s, well… time consuming. Your family doesn’t like the idea of eating fish three times a week, the farmer’s market with the good veggies is ridiculously expensive and you cringe every single time open your wallet, and that gym requires a half an hour drive just to get to it.
As you see, the plan you’ve made is simply unsustainable. Oh, you might get stubborn and stick to it for a while, but if it requires you to change every aspect of your daily routine, then it’s likely the motivation won’t last. The point is this: make it easy for yourself. Make the easiest, most fool-proof plan that doesn’t require huge shifts in your daily schedule.
Immerse yourself in your goal
Make your goal your primary focus, and make the journey to reach it fun. Want to achieve better mental health? Start meditating and get creative, start a fun new hobby that relaxes you and gives you confidence. Want to start exercising? Get the cutest damn gym clothes that you can find and start making the tastiest smoothies for your post-workout snacks. To give yourself more energy and increase your performance, start taking pre-workout supplements and enjoy feeling your strong muscles after you’re done exercising. Read, research, learn more, and talk to people who are interested in health and productivity. Surround yourself with positive energy.
Be honest with yourself
Did you really skip a workout because you were too busy, or was it because you were feeling kind of lazy? Don’t lie to yourself, and don’t lie to others. Tell your gym coach “I got lazy. Help me fix this and stay motivated.” Making excuses leads nowhere.
Failure is, actually, an option
You know what is the absolutely okayest thing in the world? Failure. It’s actually more than fine to stumble, and putting pressure on yourself to never, ever make a mistake only leads to weariness. Because you will, at some point, fail somehow. You’ll fail to reach the goal you’ve set, or you’ll forget to do something you promised you would, and then the guilt will be so overwhelming you’ll only end up procrastinating further or giving up completely.
But here’s the thing, it’s not the fact that you stumbled that reflects badly on you, it’s how you handle it. If you pout and give up, that is the thing that speaks poorly of your personality. But if you nod, acknowledge that something went wrong, and then fix it, and keep pushing, that is how you grow. That is how you succeed.
Remember to track your progress. Mark down each successful day on a big calendar in the middle of your room, and feel free to congratulate yourself whenever you reach a milestone. Good luck!
Sophia Smith is beauty blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, minimalist wardrobe, yoga and mindful living. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including: Eco Warrior Princess, Viva Glam Magazine, How to Simplify and Carousel.
*Photos courtesy of Sophia Smith thru Unplash