Whenever we start something new that is achievement-based or goal-oriented, such as a New Year’s Resolution or starting a new health program, there’s lots of excitement and motivation, but experience tells us our enthusiasm will fizzle and fade– especially when we hit the first road block.
Perhaps, if in advance we know some of the obstacles we will come up against, we will be able to overcome them. Here are three of the most common obstacles you will encounter as you take steps toward positive improvement in your life:
You didn’t complete your action or resolution for the day.
You missed a day of your program. You ate crappy food instead of a salad. Or maybe today it just seemed harder than usual to fulfill what was set out before you.
That doesn’t mean you have failed. You are learning something new, so please don’t expect perfection right away.
Solution: Just do your best each day. Focus on what you CAN do. Choosing to do one small action in the right direction before you hit the hay at the end of the day is still a baby step in the right direction, unlike staying stuck in frustration or guilt and thinking you’ve failed, which puts yourself at risk for quitting.
“I can’t do this”, “I’m not noticing any results… what’s the point?” “I’m too (fat, old, out of shape, etc.) to do this”, “This is stupid”…
Negative self-talk and attitudes are the root of all failure and misery and it doesn’t just come from you, it comes from others as well.
Solution: When it’s coming from yourself: be your own coach. Encourage, motivate and respect yourself. When it gets hard, push yourself to keep going. This is where tracking progress comes in. Keeping record of what you do each day and keeping that streak going helps you stay motivated AND reminds you of the progress you’ve already made. (See also solution to obstacle #1)
When it’s coming from others: Spend less time with the Negative Nancys and more time with friends, family members and co-workers who support and encourage your commitment. It’s better to surround yourself with people who will cheer when you make progress, than those who take joy in kicking you down when you stumble. And don’t be afraid to set some boundaries by telling the naysayers to stop that kind of talk around you.
“There’s no way I can do ALL of this!”, “There’s so much to do and not enough time!”
We live in an age of information overload, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when a lot of information is presented to you. Also, we are all so busy, that it seems impossible to fit one more thing into your already hectic schedule and daily routine.
Solution: Here’s the good news, you don’t have to do it– whatever “it” is– all at once. Start from where you are, doing only what works best for you and what you can feasibly fit into your day. And if something is working well, it’s better to continue doing that while you slowly integrate a new behaviour or action.
Remember, as long as YOU are making consistent positive action in your life, no matter the size or quantity of actions, you are still making progress. Even little actions turn into big gains.
Lastly, with positive change comes sacrifice. For example, you may have to give up time in front of the television or playing Candy Crush on your phone so you can prepare healthier meals. At the end of the day, which one of these actions will have a bigger and more positive impact on your health or bring you closer to achieving your goal?
While it isn’t easy, only good can come from creating positive change in your life. Believe in yourself and remember, failure doesn’t happen until you quit. From start to finish, see it through!