February 6, 2020

Goals: how to change the Cycle of Starting Strong & then Fizzling Out.

It’s February—yay!

January took forever and March will be here sooner than we know it! I live in Michigan, so getting to March is a big deal because then we finally get so see the sun again.

By the way, how are your resolutions going so far?

If you set goals for yourself in 2020, I’m guessing that either you couldn’t get mentally aligned with them and nothing happened, or you did make some progress and now we need to keep the momentum going.

Actually, that’s not a guess. That’s how resolutions roll.

Getting Back on Track

For those of you who fizzled out a bit, there’s no need to wait until next year to get pumped up to begin again. Let’s do it right now.

My recommendation is to find a way to focus on having fun during the process of achieving your goal rather than focusing on the eventual outcome.

The Journal of Consumer Research (February 2016) has published several studies on this subject and they each found that our enjoyment of goal pursuit predicts how well we persist in goal achievement. Here are some statistics that you may find beneficial.

>> Gym-goers who cared more about having a fun workout exercised longer than those who cared less about having fun.

>> The amount of fun people were having at the gym correlated to how long they worked out over the course of a week. The extent to which these people thought exercising was important to their overall health did not predict the amount of time they spent exercising over that period.

>> People who really liked the taste of vegetables also reported eating more servings over a one-week period. However, rating green vegetables as more important for their overall health did not lead to greater consumption.

>> Choosing a weight-lifting exercise based on enjoyment led gym goers to complete more repetitions of their exercise. On average, they completed 52 percent more repetitions of the exercise they selected based on enjoyment versus one they selected based on effectiveness.

This all makes sense, right? But, I can hear you right now. You are saying, “Brooke, if I enjoyed working out I wouldn’t need to set a resolution to workout more often. Duh.”

Girl, I know.

Which do you think would be better: to just stop trying to get healthier and feel better about yourself because you “hate working out,” or to find something that you do enjoy and make progress on something?

Tiny steps, my friends.

Maybe instead of the treadmill you would like to:

>> Walk long distances.
>> Join a dance club. There are clubs, dudes. Not clubs like oonts-oonts-oonts. A meet-up where people just dance and hang out.
>> Ride your bike.
>> Do some yoga.
>> Lift weights.
>> Join a boxing club.
>> Give martial arts a try.

This concept can be applied to many different types of goals. Let’s take a look at some of the top goals Americans set for themselves in 2020:

  1. Quit smoking.

Normally when people want to quit smoking they are told to snap a rubber band around their wrist to associate pain with the thought of smoking. Or, they take medication that, by the way, makes them go insane and also makes them sick to their stomachs.

Enjoy a new routine instead. What is something that is fun to do instead of going outside for a smoke? Maybe you could get into brewing teas instead of smoking, or listen to 10 minutes of a podcast instead of going out.

Reward yourself—it has to be something that sparks joy.

  1. Spend less time on social media.

This one seems easier. Buy some puzzles at the next neighborhood garage sale and spread one out on the dining room table so you can work on it whenever you feel like it. Yep, just like your mom used to do. Or, phone a friend. Remember actually talking on the phone? Yeah, that was awesome.

  1. Become a vegan / vegetarian.

If you like to cook or try new foods, this one should be easier. Focus on how much fun it is to have a new hobby and learn all about vegetarianism. Take a deep dive into the community and see what other people are eating and what other parts of their lives this affects.

Take a moment to think about your goal and how you can apply a major fun factor to it.

Embrace the Journey

Congratulations! You set a goal for 2020 and are among the 16 percent of resolution setters who did not give up on themselves before four months (Statista, November 2019).

Again, according to the Journal of Consumer Research, in addition to keeping the focus on fun there are a couple things we can do to maintain our pursuit of the goal.

  1. Focus on immediate rewards.

Don’t worry about achieving the goal. In your mind, there is no “done.” There is no “I made it!” Concentrating on immediate rewards increases persistence in these activities more than thinking about delayed rewards, even though these activities were selected for the delayed rewards they provide.

So, instead of thinking about how healthy and happy you will be once you lose 30 pounds, think about how amazing it is that you lost two pounds that week. Or, how loose your pants are starting to feel.

For people who decide to quit smoking, when are they done quitting smoking? When does it go from “I’m quitting” to “I quit”? We usually attempt to quit smoking because of the overall health benefits, but research shows that we are more likely to actually quit when we focus on how good we are feeling because of it.

This is another aspect of practicing gratitude. Concentrate on thinking about how good your throat feels each morning. How much less you are coughing each day. Or how much fun your new tea brewing hobby is. When you find yourself thinking about how much you crave a smoke, pivot that thought.

  1. Use positive language.

We are more likely to reach our goal if we are using positive self-talk. For instance, if you are trying to cut down on alcohol and your friend Becky offers you a drink, it’s better to tell her “I don’t” versus “I can’t.”

Be the person who brings joy to wherever you are going. Focus on the positive and live an attitude of gratitude.


More about positivity:


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