How to maintain motivation until it becomes a habit.

I read in a news article recently that 95% of new year resolutions are abandoned by the second week of January. What happens is most individuals set an intention but we don’t establish a well thought out action plan to create resolve in ourselves. Resolve is to decide firmly on a course of action or to find the determination to do something. 

Let me try to example this out. 

If I have resolve I will do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal. Let’s say I just found out that I will need to pick up my daughter from school for the rest of the school year rather than her riding the bus home for some reason. I am making this up.  But let’s just say this was not something I had planned on. So of course, I probably won’t be thrilled about it and my brain will offer all these thoughts of how inconvenient it is. How it is a disruption. But I will have the resolve that this needs to be done. Again, resolve is to decide on a course of action and to find the determination to do it.

So in this situation, I would do whatever I needed to do to make sure she is picked up. I would push through obstacles and I would defy all the odds to make sure my daughter is picked up from school. Why? Because she is important to me and caring for her is important to me. Keeping her safe is important to me. So once I resolve to the understanding that my daughter needs to be picked up from school for the rest of the year, my brain will get on board to make sure it happens. I will think about strategies for what happens if I can’t get there, what I will do when exceptions happen, what I will do when obstacles come up. I will have a well thought out plan and protocol. 

One of my current goals is to lose 10lbs. by April 2023 when I will turn the big 50. I hit my goal weight and was feeling great in September of 2021 and then some life circumstances happened such as my father passing away and I slowly lost ground and changed my routines, got off my protocols and then I found myself out of alignment with where I wanted to be for optimal health. 

OK…so now this goal of mine comes up. I have the thought, I want to lose 10lbs by this date to improve my health & wellness. So what happens, when I decide on this goal? I will start out having this excitement for the goal and then all the willpower and drive I try to muster up will carry me for a while but will most likely run out. Because I can only push through for so long. The best chance for me is to incorporate a compelling reason why this matters, why it needs to happen and then have a well thought out action plan to get the results I want. I need to create the RESOLVE. 

So what I need to do with my beginning momentum is to build up the habits and routine. I need to have that plan of action. I need to think about the exceptions. I need to anticipate what obstacles will come up and have a plan for those too. I need to remind myself of why this is important to me daily. 

The primitive part of the human brain wants to seek pleasure, comfort and to exert as little energy as possible. So tell me what do you think that would that look like for you in terms of caring for your health? For me, it would look like staying the same, not trying to grow and evolve. It would look like me not getting my workouts in 5-6 days a week. It would look like me not taking the time to meal prep healthy food options on Sundays. It would look like me eating whatever I want whenever I want. It would look like me not journaling, not processing urges. That is what my primitive brain would like me to do. Just get all the dopamine hits I want from sugar and processed foods. Just be overweight and happy right? Easy, no effort, my primitive brain would not care. 

But no, I am not happy there. Because I ultimately don’t feel my best and I spend each and every day disliking what my body feels like in my clothes. So what we need to learn is that we are going to feel discomfort no matter what. Do I want the discomfort of not feeling my best and being uncomfortable in my jeans ? Or do I want the discomfort that will come from processing urges, planning a protocol and following my plan? Evolving, growing. There is discomfort in both. Which would I rather have?

So this is why a plan to get you motivated, and then keep you building the habit is so crucial. This is why I have to remind myself each day of why this is important to me. Because my primitive brain will tell me that all the guilty pleasures in life sound better. 

So a glimpse into the steps I take is….

  1. Decide what I want. Decide what matters to me. Decide what I want to change.
  2. State my why this matters. Think about it all, why this is important to me. And why the discomfort of changing is worth more than the discomfort of staying the same. I have to repeat this why constantly. I literally write it in my journal daily. Why I want to lose this 10lbs. 
  3. I work on my plan of action. What needs to happen to reach my goal. I plan for exceptions, I plan for obstacles. I write out my plan, my protocol.
  4. I process urges. I recognize my buffers when I don’t want to feel my feelings. 
  5. I work on all the junk that comes up in my primitive brain that wants to distract me.I journal my thoughts and work on those areas to become stronger. There is something very powerful putting this in writing. 
  6. I reinforce the resolve. 
  7. I work on staying disciplined. And creating habits. I build the momentum. 

The steps can get more specific for the exact goal you are going after, But this can really work for anything you want to grow and evolve in your life. Finances, health, fitness, career. Anything. The foundational process really is similar. So I encourage you to get clear about what you want and then spend the crucial time planning. Set yourself up for success with a plan of action. Find your resolve. That is what can carry you through. But also, don’t look at the setbacks as negative. We grow more in the times of challenges than when all things are going smoothly. But that my friends is a whole different set of tools that I would love to share with you. I am human just like you, and these tools are my secret to living a life that is more peaceful, more fulfilling and more rewarding than I thought was possible.  

If you have been one of those people who have lost motivation and consistency in the past, just know that there is nothing wrong with you. We ALL struggle with this and it is because of the way our brain is designed and works. But we have a prefrontal cortex, our intelligent brain and that is our weapon against what our primitive brain wants us to do. We just need to learn tools to go after what we want armed with a plan. A plan of action that can take us to the finish line. And appreciate everything we learn on that journey. 

I hope you will spend some time being intentional and deciding what you want to keep in your life and what you want to get rid of from your life as we near the end of January in this new year of 2023.

The most important thing is that you are evolving. Remember we grow through adversity more than we do with everything flowing smoothly. 

“Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.”

Oprah Winfrey

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