When you get fired up, or just plain frustrated with your current life situation, it’s tempting to go all out and resolve to donate all of your earthly possessions, quit smoking, never touch a drop of alcohol again and ban chocolate from the house so that you can lose 20-30lbs. Oh, and stay in touch with your childhood friends more. And get yourself out of debt.
And what happens, almost immediately? You become deflated and feel overwhelmed and useless. Because of course there is no way you are going to be able to tackle all of those things at once! The goals are too large, too meaningful and too vague for you to even know where to start.
The key is to concentrate on one thing at a time. At least at the beginning. Set a goal, and then break that goal down into smaller steps–the ‘success criteria’, as we teachers say in the classroom. You might just call them your stepping stones. Or your action plan. No matter what, your plan needs to be detailed, clear and achievable. It’s much better to work consistently for a small amount of time each day than to start off with an epic, feverish burst of enthusiasm that is never again replicated in your lifetime.
Giving up alcohol or getting yourself out of debt is a really big deal, and either one of those things alone will require a lot of determination and willpower.
But what you will notice, if you tackle them consistently, is that one lifestyle goal often feeds directly into another. Once one area of your life is easier to manage, you will have more energy and more belief that you can take on the next goal on your list. You give up alcohol and your finances immediately improve. You start decluttering and find that you are making some extra cash by selling things on eBay.
Exercising that muscle of willpower inevitably makes it stronger, and you become more equipped to deal with difficult situations and old habits that no longer serve you each time you make a positive choice.
Equally, the more you allow yourself to indulge your old habits, the harder it becomes to break them.
Prioritise your goals, attack just one of them with passion and consistency, and soon you will be tackling the others with confidence and the belief that it is absolutely possible with enough planning, enough of a reason to keep you going, and small, daily action.
Good luck! I’d love to hear about any goals you might have at the moment and how you plan to achieve them.