You are moving forward with your shiny new goal. Making progress, seeing results, feeling good. Oh yeah, you have a handle on all this goal setting business. No worries.
Until one morning you wake up, look at your nightstand, and your pretty goal is getting tarnished. You are getting a bit tired of the goal. Tired of planning, counting, thinking, living that goal. Weight loss, fitness, finances, whatever your goal, it’s getting hard to stick to your guns. What the heck happened to my shiny goal!?
Oh, trust me, it’s still there, even though, at this stage, which I like to call the “honeymoon is over” period, and the goal may be flat out annoying you.
If you have made it this far, let me congratulate you. The good news is you have made it through the honeymoon stage.The bad news is, this is where the really hard work begins. Reality has set it. You are kinda sort of yearning for your old life you had before the goal. It’s easier.
However, if you should choose to give up on your goal now, you will get to go through this stage again and again. Because if this goal is important to you, you will try again. And go through this same process. Remember the movie Groundhog Day?
What is one to do at this point? White-knuckle your way through? Hold your breath and hope for the best, abandon your plan completely?
It is a very frustrating time. And it is also a time of personal growth and change. And change is hard!
Many people never make it this far. So again, congratulations if you are reading this post with a tarnished goal in hand.
Most people I have worked with encounter this period around 2-4 weeks into the process. I am not going to say I have strategies that make it easy, and yeah, you are probably going to have to white-knuckle it, and fake it before you make it a time or two before the goal becomes ingrained in your lifestyle. But I do have a few techniques to make it a bit easier:
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable-Comfort zones are nice, but rarely lead to personal growth, which is what goals are all about! Uncomfortable feelings are just uncomfortable feelings. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. These feelings will fade in time.
Distraction-when you cannot let go mentally, get up and move, do something physical. Organize your cupboards, go for a walk, call a friend, write a letter. The feelings will pass, but if you sit and stew in your misery they will last longer than need be.
Be aware-some goals involve cravings; quitting smoking, improving nutrition (I don’t use the “D” word, don’t believe in them), cutting back drinking, are good examples. Cravings will creep up, be on the lookout, and when one pops up, please note most cravings last 60-90 seconds. And maybe you could…
Surf the urge-yup, just like the ocean waves, cravings roll in, peak, then fade. Feel it, then let it go. Try it, this is one of my personal faves.
Call your accountability buddy and share your feelings. Get online with a support group. Find someone to be your cheerleader and get you through the feelings of giving up.
Play the movie to the end- What’s going to happen if you give into an urge, or if you abandon your goal? Imagine 2 endings to your movie. In one you cave, give up all the progress you have made, and abandon the goal. How will this make you feel when you wake up tomorrow? In the other, you surfed the urge, distracted yourself, and conquered the negative feelings. How does that make you feel? This is my very favorite way to keep on keepin’ on.
The strength you feel after defeating an urge (not in the moment, but after when you can reflect) has amazing power, and will keep feeding your goal with a can-do attitude.
Delaying gratification shows true strength of character, particularly in this day and age. To reach a goal you must persevere, and be patient. Too many people give up at the point when they are almost there. Hang in there, don’t give up, the good stuff is just around the corner. Waiting for you. And you will have earned it.
Next tip: Change Your Cast