What to do when resolutions start to collapse

According to one study, 92% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them or succeed with their New Year’s goals.

This is not another article bashing resolutions. We all know the approach has flaws, but whether you think in terms of resolutions or goals or projects, there probably are things that you’d like to change or find success with and the start of the new year is a time to jump in with renewed focus.

Well, now it’s the middle of January, and if you set a goal or made a resolution to create a new habit or routine at the beginning of the month, it’s absolutely normal to find yourself feeling less motivated, less-than-successful, or even completely off track right about now.

Here’s something important to know:

[Tweet “Feeling discouraged, unmotivated, or off track doesn’t mean you’re going to fail.”]

In fact, if you’re feeling a bit like your goals have lost their shine, and you’ve lost a tad of your I’m-going-to-be-a-better-version-of-myself” motivation, you might be exactly where you need to be to create successful and lasting change.

If your progress or your motivation is faltering, you’re collecting some data that indicates there are holes in your plan. Something about your approach or your mindset isn’t setting you up for success.

Instead of seeing your waning enthusiasm as a failure, take it for what it is—a signal that you need to recalibrate in order to keep moving forward.

If you’re running out of enthusiasm, there’s a reason. Be curious about it – and about what could make you more excited or enthusiastic (or maybe just willing), to do what you need to do.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

That’s a proverb and a way of thinking that high-achievers can really beat themselves up with when they’re not succeeding with their goals.

However, it does contain a fundamental nugget.

Simply wanting something, or even sketching out a to-do list of steps, is rarely enough to make it happen—especially if it’s a consistent lifestyle change related to health or weight loss, or managing stress.

Desire may be the first step, but if it isn’t paired with a workable plan—a blueprint for success—that is do-able, fits with your life and matches your style, your tastes, and your strengths, desire isn’t likely to get you very far.

If your resolutions are failing, don’t beat yourself up – take a look at your plan.

Here’s what to do if your New Year’s resolutions failed (or are floundering)

If things aren’t working out there’s a reason – play detective:

If you are anything like me (and many of my readers), you expect a lot of yourself. When things don’t go as planned, it can be tempting to either heap on the self-blame or look for a convenient excuse. This is also the time perfectionism and “I told you you couldn’t (or wouldn’t)” often rear their ugly heads. To be effective, it’s important to back away from these unhelpful stances and get some perspective.

If things aren’t working out, there’s a reason.

Your job is to start identifying the holes in your approach or ways that your goals might be out of alignment with your real desires (or your life).

  • Are you expecting too much too soon and sabotaging yourself by creating a plan for burnout?
  • Did you outline what you were going to do but neglect to make a place for it in your busy life?
  • Are you finding that the actions that were so easy to write down in your journal require some steps you hadn’t considered?
  • Ask yourself this: did you put together a list of action steps that bore you to tears or that simply aren’t a fit with the person you are?

These are all common missteps. These stumbling blocks are simply what come up when you start to make changes. If you ignore them they will sabotage you, but if you use this information as a point to help you remap your path, you can create some real progress.

If your goal is important to you, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Identify the holes, the parts of your plan that aren’t working, and move on to the next step.

Ignore your inner perfectionist – practice and make adjustments.

If you are falling off track or not succeeding at all with your goals, your inner perfectionist might just be telling you to label this a catastrophic failure and a time for complete retreat.

This is a critical time in the change cycle to be on the lookout for “all or nothing” perfectionistic thinking. You know–the voice that says, “Well you ate those chips so now you’ve blown it. You might as well just finish the bag because you’re going to have to start all over again on Monday.”

Remember, it’s likely that your plan wasn’t entirely faulty. It had holes. Most plans have holes their first time out. Now is the time to tweak—to creatively improve upon your plan for success.

If the tweaks you need to make aren’t obvious, consider the following:

  • Could you make it easier? If you aren’t getting where you want to go, often the temptation is to push harder. What if you did the opposite? It may sound crazy, but I challenge you to ask yourself how you might make pursuing your goal easier. Could you break the steps down into smaller pieces, adjust your time line, incorporate some help, mentoring, or support, use more tools, or play with adjusting your approach?
  • What would make the journey less painful or tedious? How could you up the fun factor? Can you make the eating plan, the fitness routine, or the other action steps more enjoyable or playful? If not, how are you lavishly rewarding progress and planning to celebrate the milestones you plan to achieve?
  • Are you lacking support? Do you need more help, more guidance, a coach or a skill set that you just don’t have? If you feel like you are floundering around in the dark, who could help you by turning the lights on? This is a critical piece that’s missing from many smart, busy women’s plans.
  • Use a wide angle lens. As you practice, and make adjustments, keep asking whether you can see yourself actually committing to this plan for one month, six months, or six years. You are probably looking to create change that will last. Your plan has to be one you’ll want to live with for the long haul.

Get back on the horse (keep practicing).

Once you give yourself permission to see “falling off” as a part of the process of making lasting change, it’s going to be much easier to get back on and continue on your way. Thriving and succeeding aren’t a destination, they are a journey. Miscalculations and bad days are not only allowed, they are simply a fact of life. Practice showing your inner perfectionist the door when she shows up uninvited and expect to continue to stumble but keep moving toward the goals, habits, and changes that you want to achieve.

Take good care,

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