Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 5

From time to time when working toward a specific goal we may encounter feelings of negativity and deprivation. As we complete our short-term goal, or begin to gain confidence in our ability to master the longer-term goals, the intensity of these feelings will fade, and become virtually non-existent.

No matter what your goal may be, it will require you to rearrange your life to some degree

One good sign we are adjusting to our goal is the ability to feel somewhat indifferent to the pull of the old way of life, and more comfortable  with the new lifestyle, whatever that may entail.

It can take some time to reach the point of indifference. The time frame varies according to the task at hand and the personality of the individual working on the goal.

If education is the goal, your social life may suffer. When training for a marathon, family time may get sacrificed. Saving for a sweet vacation will require you to give up date night out for many months.

Quitting smoking or changing our eating or drinking habits can cause feelings of extreme deprivation in the beginning.

Your comfort zone is going to get turned upside-down.

Something’s gotta give. Maybe it’s your attitude. There must be numerous positive aspects to the goal or you would not have set it in the first place. So why does your mind keep focusing on the negatives?

Simply put, it is our brain at work. Our brain remembers the pattern of the old ways easier, and our brain loves a good comfort zone. So, for a bit, your brain may probably will naturally focus on the old way of doing things.

Once you can create some new pathways/patterns in your brain by continually repeating the new behaviors, the old patterns begin to fade away. It has nothing to do with willpower, but everything to do with brain function. Basically you are to rewiring your brain by re-training your brain.

Until your brain re-trains, you need to keep your eyes on the prize, and really focus on the positives of your goal.

Here are a few tips to help shake feelings of deprivation and negativity:

Create a pros and cons list of your goal. I bet the pros outweigh the cons. Run through this list when feelings of deprivation get you down.

Keep in mind, negative feelings are just negative feelings. You don’t have to pretend they are not there, and your new life is all rainbows and unicorns. Acknowledge the negative or deprivation feelings, feel them, take action if necessary (through a positive outlet such as journaling or exercise) and let them go.

Feelings have a lot less power when we take time to notice them and actively deal with them instead of pushing them to the dark corners of our mind where they tend to fester and gain strength.

It may help to look at the feelings of derivation as a gift in helping to build our “muscle” of delayed gratification instead of picturing our goal as the enemy.

See how easy this positive thinking stuff is? You can do it! Here’s another idea.

Sit back, close your eyes, and picture yourself as having already achieved the goal. Think about this for a minute or two. Make it as real as you can in your mind. Use all of your senses. You are crossing the finish line, you are graduating, you are a non-smoker. Now feel those good feelings of success. Let them wash all over you. And whenever you are feeling deprived, relive the positive vibes of your visualization.

Don’t forget the power of your positive support network! Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 3

And here’s my fave. Establish a short-term reward system. This idea works best when you use it on a weekly basis. It is the grown up version of a gold star. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. A nice little treat for yourself.

Maybe buy a good bottle of wine with all the money you have saved from not smoking for a week, and celebrate the return of your taste buds. Kept up with your run training all week? How about a nice new cushy pair of running socks. Followed your healthy eating plan you and your health-coach worked out? A new fashion magazine to check out the new styles you will choose when shopping for the new shape you are sculpting. Just a small luxury can work wonders.

If all else fails, please don’t forget you have a sense of humor. Use it to laugh in the face of the feelings of negativity.

Have faith the dark feelings will soon fade into the shadows, and the warm glow of success will shine down upon you as you bask in the glory of a well-achieved  goal.

You got this…

 

 

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 4

Did you know a good majority of the world’s oldest citizens, the centenarians (100+ years) share a common trait? Good genes? Somewhat. Research suggests genetics accounts for about 30% of your general longevity. Personality traits may be one of the most significant factors, particularly the abilities to adapt well to change, and keeping a positive attitude.

And both a willingness to change and a positive attitude are needed to achieve any goal.

Many times, throughout the process of making a goal reality, life intervenes. And not always in a good way. You must adjust. You could abandon the goal, but again, if it is important to you, you will try again. Life will get in the way. Again. It will happen every time, because that is how life is. You know this. I know this. We all do.

But what some people fail to do is make a plan B. And even if we do, sometimes life will veer in and crush plan B. Have a plan C. It really seems simple, but many people, even lifestyle-change experts like me, forget to do this crucial step.

I was complaining one day to my online support group about how despite my best thought out plans for my goal, my plans kept getting blocked by life events I had no control over. Poor me, playing the victim, like I don’t know life will happen. Do I really think the river of life will flow smoothly through the whole process? Waa, waa.

One of my online buddies replied, “You need a plan B. And a plan C.” And she was right.

There will never be a perfect time, you don’t get to live in a vacuum while chasing dreams and goals. People will not stop having weddings because you are on a weight loss regime. Your child may get sick when you have a big presentation due. Bad weather cancels your Power Hour fitness class. You just get $200 ahead, and you need a $201 car repair.

Life happens, my friends. Get your plan ready, and do it now. And don’t forget plan C!

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. You will gain the ability to adapt, you will remain positive, your goal stays alive. And you might just learn some personality traits that take you on the path to becoming a healthy, robust centenarian. Now that’s success…

 

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 3


When it comes to achieving goals, a strong support system is an essential component. If you compare goal setting to house building, starting from a good place of readiness is our foundation , a well-stated goal the framework, then our support system can become the nails that hold the whole thing together when the winds of being unmotivated begin to blow in and threaten to topple the whole building/goal.
I touched on this briefly in my previous posts on accountability and the “honeymoon” period, Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 2. However, I think this component deserves it’s own post.

If you have reached a point of low motivation, you are probably a few weeks into the program and the shine is wearing off. You need and deserve support and encouragement.

You should be seeing some results by now; you have lost a few pounds,  your bank account is getting bigger instead of shrinking, or your college classes have begun, things are starting to happen just as you’d planned.

The key to this tip is to have the support system in place before it is actually needed. If your mojo is fading, this is the perfect time to get in touch with your support system and get some cheerleading going in your favor.


Perhaps a friend or coworker has been through something similar. Ask if they would mind supporting you through this goal when you feel weak. Supportive family members can be a huge resource also.

Online support groups work wonderfully for those who wish to remain somewhat anonymous. You can really get some rants and tough feelings sorted out with others who are going through the same thing. They may have some advice that is just what you need to hear. Sometimes just knowing someone else has walked a similar path helps. And it has been my experience, those who have been there are willing to share advice without judgement.

Judgement is the last thing you need when you are feeling wobbly.

Don’t jump into the first group you find. There will be many. Read around through the site and it’s forums. See if the goals and methods of communicating suit you. If not, move on, and keep trying until you find a good fit.

Family and friends do seem like an obvious place to look for support. And while most people will happily cheer you on, others may be de-motivating. I am not sure why this phenomenon exists. It seems to me we would want our loved ones to be successful in any venture they choose.

I believe fear has a lot to do with it. Change is very scary for some people. They don’t want to change, and they don’t want anything to change around them. The bigger the goal, the harder they resist, and they might even try to derail your progress. We all have that aunt that wants to push the food on us, the friend who offers a smoke or drink, or the one who wishes we would just throw our nice, tidy budget on the fire, and go out for a night on the town. If they see you change, they fear they may lose you in the process, or maybe it forces them to confront some issues of their own.

If this is the case, and you are around too many negative types you need…

…a new cast

Yup, that’s right, I said it. Does this mean you completely ditch your old cast? Maybe..,but if you are like me, you love your old cast. You may have to distance yourself from the old cast for a bit or limit the time spent with them until you feel stronger within the limits of your goal.

If your goal is weight loss, it does no good for your goal to hang out at the Olive Garden with your BFF. I had to forgo going to pubs with my pals for a month or so when I finally got serious about quitting smoking. If you have to write a paper for class, don’t be around people who push you to blow it off and “hang out.”

Keep your original cast. But consider adding a few new members with similar goals. When your old cast sees you are serious, they will either come around or not. In which case, what kind of friends are they really?

Need support for weight loss?  Weight Watchers has a dynamite program (the ONLY commercial program this wellness writer recommends) with a built in support system, which, in my opinion is why they are so successful.

Need help staying on task with school? Consider joining a study group.

There are numerous avenues for exercise from community classes, gyms, run training classes.The great thing about exercising folks is they have lots of positive energy, due to all those feel good hormones and chemicals exercise releases. Consider joining or organizing a walking group.

If you are working on career goals there are professional groups popping up all over the place, check one out and make some connections with like-minded people. Or start your own, if you are an organizing type. Stay-at-home moms have a really hard job, and it is nice to gather and share experiences.

Whatever your goal is, and you can trust me on this one, there are many others working toward the same thing.

Establish your support system early, expand your cast, and make it full of positive, can-do people. Soon you will be one. And inspiring and supporting your own cast!

 

 

 

 

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 2

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.

Previous tip: Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 1

Next tip: Change Your Cast

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Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 1

Following through with a goal can be tough even with the best of intentions. Several blog readers have requested I write a post on maintaining motivation related to achieving goals. I could write one long, wordy post on all my best strategies, which probably would become a mish-mash in your mind. So I won’t. I believe it will serve you better if I just stick to one or two strategies a week for several weeks with the intention of seeing you through to the other side of that goal coin. The success side!

#1- You have studied the stages of change and done a self-assessment. You have set a solid goal on paper ( Motivation: Part 2.)  It is time to announce your intention to the world. Or at least your BFF. Don’t keep your goal to yourself. It gets too easy to procrastinate, cheat, pretend the goal is not there, or just plain forget about it altogether. What you need now is some accountability to someone, anyone.

Accountability can take several forms. You could go all out, as I did this year, and write out your entire goal on Facebook. Or you can paraphrase your intention to a supportive friend, coworker, or relative.

Many people are uneasy about sharing their goals for various reasons. Perhaps you are not yet ready to tell your peer group. I used to feel this way, and still do with some goals.  I felt, well, rather silly stating goals. Who am I to think I can accomplish …(insert goal)? Perhaps you have failed before, maybe many times, and you just don’t need to see that eye roll that means, “Here she goes again. What’s she trying to prove?”

If this describes you, here are a couple strategies to try:

Write, draw, collage, vision board your goal and place it in a spot where you will see it many times per day, so it sticks in your head, your subconscious, and will be with you at all times as a constant reminder. I used this practice when we decided to sell all our non-essential stuff and hit the road in our RV. I found a postcard of the mountains,  I cut out a pic of a RV and glued it to the postcard. I taped it on my bathroom mirror. When we sold the house,  I moved the tiny vision board to our apartment. It worked! Here I sit outside the RV in Tampa, Florida writing blog posts. Just as I intended. I still have my mini vision board to remind me of the phenomenal power of stating intentions.

Setting goals in the Sunshine State

Another idea worth exploring is online support groups. Whatever your goal, there is a support group for it. I have used these and found them very, very helpful for accountability. Even though everything is pretty anonymous, and you don’t really know these people, they are generally working toward the same goal as you. It is a way to not only stay accountable, but also share the joys and frustrations of working towards a specific goal.
I am going to state my intention with you right here to help keep me accountable on my new goal. First, abstractly, with a wide view of my idea, and second with a concrete goal.

Abstract-I want to write a series on maintaining motivation.

This is too general, a good idea, but I get no direction from this statement. It is a pie in the sky dream at this level.

Concrete-I will write a 10 part blog series on my favorite strategies to maintain motivation. I will post 2 strategies per week beginning January 23 and ending on February 20.

Now the goal is set up SMART-ly. It is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

And I am now accountable-to YOU!

Get out there and tell someone about your goals. Your goals are worthy. Get some accountability. Your goal depends on it.

And if you need someone to share your goal with, you can share it here with me. Leave me a message at the end of this post, and tell me about your goal. It would be my pleasure to be your accountability pal.

Next tip: navigating the “honeymoon is over” period

 

Goal Setting: Part 1


Earlier today, during my morning run, I was thinking about a blog post I had in mind concerning motivation. And as often happens during physical activity, at least for me, my brain got all revved up and thought, “Hey, Sheryle, you are putting the cart before the horse.” There’s a couple steps involved before the motivation can step in. So I think it is wise to just start at the beginning, work from there, and get to motivation in it’s proper order. I know, I know, you want to get to the good stuff, but you’ve got to do the steps to create a solid foundation for your change or the whole project is likely to fall to pieces.

According to over two decades of research, before any change can occur, individuals move through a series of changes referred to as the stages of change model. I use this model in my personal training assessments to determine where my client’s headspace is concerning the change they are contemplating. And if we should even proceed at all.  My frugality knows no bounds, and I won’t waste someone else’s money on training when I can clearly see they are not ready to change. I have used this model personally while making changes of my own. And several times ditched my plan because it became quite obvious I simply wasn’t quite ready.

Stage 1) Precontemplation (Not ready)-generally in this stage the person kinda knows there is a need for change intellectually, but they do not intend to take any action at this time. I used to wonder why this would even be in the model, but now know it is where the seed of change gets planted. It is the beginning of the beginning.

Stage 2) Contemplation (Getting ready mentally)-Hey, the seed took hold. The plan is growing some roots, not just blowing around in the wind. This is good. Usually when in this stage people intend to change within the next 6 months. Costs and benefits of the changed get weighed. People get stuck in this stage a lot. Procrastination can rule here. weighing pros and cons are a good thing, but it is easy to get tangled up in this state. It is not a state of action, but rather one of thought.

Stage 3) Preparation (getting ready physically)-The roots are getting deeper. In this stage people intend to take action in the immediate future. Joining a gym, creating a budget, shopping for healthy food, throwing away ashtrays, consulting with a physician are all examples of a person in the preparation stage. This and the following stages are where I will commit to training with the client. I want my clients to be successful. And at this stage, it can become a reality.

Stage 4) Action (time to get after it)-Wow, I see some leaves on that plant! Time to put the plan into motion. Preparations have been made. The day is highlighted on the calendar. It is time make the change, and depending on your individual goal it lasts…until. It varies and I would be remiss to give you a time frame. It can be both a productive and frustrating time, and if you are here, I will try to get the post on motivation completed soon. This is where you will need it. Sometimes during this stage we have a lapse, sometimes a total relapse. With a lapse we may fall off the horse, but we get right back on. If we relapse, the damn horse runs away, and we get to start over. I cannot tell you how many dozens of times I quit (and started again) smoking. That project alone makes me an expert on the stages of change model. But eventually I got strong enough and I found myself here….

Stage 5) Maintenance (I did it!)- The plant is in full bloom. The plan has been worked, goal has been achieved, and needs to be maintained. This is where we must feel committed to the change. Our change becoming our lifestyle. It’s a hard stage to get to. And I’ll be honest. Many fail. I did. I quit smoking for 17 months once, lit one up, and BOOM, I was right back at the preparation stage in no time. I am a true nicotine addict, one’s too many, a hundred is not enough. I wasn’t even sure how it all happened. We get all comfy and smug with our goals. Don’t let your guard down at this phase and get all cocky and stuff. It’s a recipe for failure. It does get easier, and most professionals believe once we have maintained for 5 years, we are probably free and clear. It has become as much of a lifestyle choice as choosing to brush our teeth every morning and night. It is ingrained. Woot, woot, you win!

It should be noted, many people do not ease from one stage to the other in perfect order. Some people, like me with smoking, flop around the stages for a long time, going from one to another, digressing, lapsing, even relapsing. And there are a few individuals, oh how I wish I were one, who easily transition from one stage to another. The tougher the goal, the tougher the process. Achieving goals is not easy, but then again nothing worth having rarely is. Do not be disappointed if your whole plan goes awry. You will have learned something valuable. You will use it next time, because if it was important to your core values, you WILL try again. I learned a lesson from every single failed smoking attempt I had. There is value in failure. In this model, your failures can actually add to your strength, as long as you keep trying.

I hope the understanding of the stages of change model helps you make some of those tough lifestyle decisions. It will be right here waiting for you when you are ready.

 

 

Yes, I am still here!

I'm back!

I’m back!

I know it has been some time since I have written a post. 10 months or so. Yikes! We spent our summer at home in Michigan. It was a great summer filled with family fun and the wedding of our last single child. We are still full-timing in our RV, enjoying the winter this year in Florida.

A perfect summer wedding

A perfect summer wedding

I have done some soul-searching and decided I just can’t leave my fitness career in the dust. This summer will mark my 20th year in the business. As my business and I grow older and evolve, I am studying fitness in it’s functional form, and am in the process of retooling to become an Orthopedic Fitness Specialist. IMG_1226

Part of this process will include changing over this blog to be more fitness/wellness oriented. I can’t help it, it’s in my blood.  So look for more posts in the future. Right now I am focusing my attention on my studies and re-certification, and a bit of Florida fun in the sun. However, I look forward to serving you in the future.

See you soon...

See you soon…

My blog will probably have a new title, but it will always be right here at sherylesage.com