The 4 Step Follow Through Formula for Tough Goals and Resolutions

“Hey mom, I’ve got it all figured out this semester. I’ve got a system and will make sure I stick to all of the work.”

My mom was on the other end of the line, growing more and more impatient with my college exuberance.

“I’m excited for you, but you’ve said this a million times before and it never worked. What makes this time so different?”

Ouch.

I was a junior at UPenn, and my procrastination and desire to do everything fun under the sun left me too little time to be competitive with my fellow Ivy League overachievers.

I still got good grades – just never as good as they could have been had I just “applied myself.” This pattern repeated across everything I did.

That semester, I finally broke the pattern of procrastination (not for good – I had, and still have, a lot more work ahead) and got to see my mom beam over the Dean’s List notification letter.

I can thank my mom’s question for that result. I may have burst into tears after I hung up the phone that night, but it shook me into asking myself some vital questions that helped me stick to my plan and achieve my goals.

This is a very powerful exercise, and you absolutely need it if you’re trying to achieve a goal you’ve failed at in the past. Especially if it’s an emotional one, like working out, losing weight, or getting the results and recognition you crave.

It’s quick – but not comfortable. It will put you face to face with uncomfortable feelings and force you to take action. That’s also why it works so well! [Read more…]

5 essential things you need to learn in your 20s

This is a two-part series. To read the first part, click here.

Last week I wrote a post about what to stop doing in your 20s: waste time and pretend these years “don’t really count”.

Here’s the truth: everything counts. Every single second of every day counts. What counts most is the present moment. NOW.

It doesn’t matter what plans you’ve made for the future, or what happened to you in the past. Sure, you can prepare yourself for a better future, and you can learn from the lessons of the past. But the most important thing in this journey called life is to enjoy every single step of it. Basically, you need to make the most out of your now, every day of your life.

Now that you know what not to do in your 20s (throw them out the window), let’s talk about what you must do in your 20s. More specifically, let’s talk about what you really need to learn during this fateful decade. The sooner you learn these things, the better your life will be, and the more you’ll be able to make the most out of everything you’ve got.

Ready? Click on the video below to learn the 5 essential things you simply must learn in your 20s (and remember, the sooner, the better!)

 

 

Before you leave, I want to hear from you!

What is the most important lessons you have learned in your 20s or that you think young people should learn in their 20s?

For the fellow gen Y-ers out there: What are you going to make your “theme” this decade? What lesson are you going to absolutely make sure you learn?

This is a two-part series. To read the first part, click here.

Reach your goals: Are you using these four essential techniques?

Are you having trouble keeping on track with your goals?

Do you need too much motivation to keep going?

Do you feel like your inner resistance is getting the better of you?

Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody HayesYeah, I’m intimately familiar with all of that.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can reach your goals, without feeling like you’re attempting an impossible feat.

All it takes is the right approach.

Here are some techniques that you can use to get yourself started on the right track.

1. Create an actionable habit that’s sustainable

When that initial surge of motivation is so high, it’s easy to imagine that you will move mountains.

And, honey, I believe you will.

Just not right now.

You see, new changes take time and effort. The bigger of a change you try to make all of a sudden, the more the Grinch will whiplash you back with the biggest motivation slump you’ve ever lived through.

So make it sustainable. Don’t aim too high… not just yet. Start small to give yourself a chance to succeed.

It’s important tomake the distinction here between an actionable habit and a goal. Maybe you like to set high goals. I know I do. I don’t just aim for the moon, I aim for the next galaxy!

And that, my friends, is a-ok. No problem. Set your goals as high as they can go. Setting super high goals is actually a great thing.

But that’s not what your actionable habit needs to be.

Your actionable habit should be something that you can reach (think the closest star, not the closest galaxy), and it should be something you can comfortably fit into your life without too much disruption.

That means, if you’ve been smoking 3 packs of cigarettes for the past 30 years, for the love of all that is holy, don’t just quit cold turkey. (unless you have the right kind of support to help you through that massive transition)

If steak gives you foodgasms and you hate veggies, don’t start a raw vegan lifestyle out of the blue.

If you’re 300 pounds overweight and have never run a mile in your life, don’t make your first day’s workout 1.5 hours long.

You will come back to those cigarettes, the steak, and the couch faster than you can say failed resolution.

We all like to aim high. Aim as high as you’d like. Just take a smaller first step. Don’t smoke before 10 am. Have one meat-less dinner a week. Do a 10-minute workout every morning.

Remember that each person is different. Your tiny first step might be ten times bigger than someone else’s tiny first step. This depends on your personality, experience, and whole host of other factors.

Give yourself permission to be your own expert. Click to tweet this quote

Point your awareness inward and take your first step at a size that feels right to you.

2. Do it daily

It’s easy to fall off the bandwagon if you have time to take a break and experience a day without putting in the effort to complete your actionable habit.

Don’t let that happen. Do it every.single.day.

If you need to, reduce your actionable habit even more. It’s often easier to form a stress-reducing meditation habit by sitting for 10 minutes a day than for 30 minutes every 3 days.

Forming a new habit is tough, and it takes work. Creating change requires going out of your comfort zone, and that is hard. I’m not going to lie to you about that, and you already know it. Don’t make it any harder on yourself by taking regular breaks from it.

It’s always easier to maintain a habit than it is to start over. Breaking your habit once is not the end of the world, and it may not be hard to recover from. But get into the habit of breaking your habit, and you’re toast.

Just do it every day. If you’re too busy, set your priorities straight.

If you really want this change to happen, then you can take 10 minutes out of your busy day every day to take care of your actionable habit.

3. Schedule it

Take a pencil, a pen, whatever, and write it down in your planner or calendar. Schedule it down for the next month. Remember, it takes at least 21 days to build a habit. Don’t trust yourself to remember to do it before that.

But I have trouble sticking to my schedule!

If you’re like me and just can’t take your agenda seriously, schedule your actionable habit at a time when you’re not likely to be distracted by anything else.

Wake up earlier in the morning to do this before you even start your day. Or do what I do and whoop some writer’s block ass on your hour-long daily commute on the train.

Don’t allow any distractions during this time. This is your appointment with yourself. Treat it like an important doctor’s appointment, or like you’re preparing for the most important exam of your life.

4. Get your foot in the door

For me, getting started is the hardest thing. Once I’ve been working out or writing for 10 minutes, ignoring distractions is not that hard. It’s the first 5-10 minutes that are really hard.

This goes along with what I said earlier: maintaining a habit is easier than starting over.

So, before you even start, get everything ready!

When it comes time to do what you’ve set out to do, you can just start. No prep needed. No time to change your mind once you start. And certainly nothing to distract you away from your actionable habit in those vital first few minutes.

If your resolution is to jog every day, put your workout clothes on, whether you feel like it or not. Then get out the door, and start walking. You may not feel like jogging, but I promise you, after walking for 5 minutes, you’ll pick up the pace.

When I was trying to build my actionable habit of eating a salad for lunch every day, I would prepare it the night before, then add the dressing right before leaving for work.

Once I was at work, I knew all I had in the fridge was my salad. My only other option was to go out in the cold and spend $5 – $10 of my hard-earned money on something else.

If I really felt like having something else, I would go to the fridge, bring my salad to my desk, open the container and stick a fork in it. Then I would ignore it and just keep working. Inevitably, within 2 minutes, that fork would find its way into my mouth.

Just Do It.

Just. Do. It. You don’t need motivation, you don’t need inspiration. All you need is to get off your butt and get going, and do what you’ve set out to do.

Try to manage your stress levels during this time. You’re trying to make an important change in your life and battling your own internal Negative Nancy. That’s stressful enough. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and try to stay as much in the present moment as you can.

Don’t let failures or setbacks discourage you. Every single successful person has failed more times than they can count.

What differentiates them from the people who are not successful is the fact that they keep getting back up. Over, and over, and over. Get up, and get yo’ ass going. Just do it.

Take action!

Try my techniques for at least the next five days.

In the comments, share your actionable steps!

What other techniques do you use to defeat your inner Grinch and just do it?

How did this 5-day experiment work out for you? What did you find most useful?

Let’s get this party started and reach some goals!

Can’t keep up with your resolutions? Here’s why

I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.

I always start out all fired up and full of drive and motivation to do all the stuff that I’ve set out to do.

But, right around this time of year, I usually make best friends with a giant pint of ice cream, the feeling of being a failure, and 5 lbs (if I’m lucky).

It stinks.

Boost  your motivation with the power of habitThis year, I was tempted not to make a resolution in the first place. After all, failure seemed inevitable.

But then I realized there is a certain drive for change that comes along with a new beginning. A new year in particular can give us that fresh, lovely feeling of starting off with a clean slate.

Resolutions help us take that purely emotional drive and translate it into a goal and an action plan that has the possibility to create lasting change.

Instead of giving up on making resolutions, I decided to discover what causes us to fail at them.

It turns out that overreliance on motivation drives failure.

Whoa, wait, what? No way, motivation is a good thing!

Yes! Motivation is awesome… to get you started.

But once you start… it’s not motivation that should keep you going!

Motivation leaves you too susceptible to the resistance within you. [Read more…]