If you are anything like me, you have high hopes of achieving a lofty New Year's resolution, but as the days and weeks pass by, your resolve starts to dissolve. Typically, these resolutions are tied to something we are passionate about or value strongly, yet we let it go after one slip. It often seems easier to let the pledge go than be burdened with the pressure of seeing the goal through. But if we are going to bother committing some time to a goal, shouldn't we find a way to make it last?
My resolution this year is to have more patience with my toddler and preschooler. The goal is obviously an important one, so I want to make sure I'm not giving up on it halfway through the first month. I was barely through the first day of the 2013 when my daughter decided to test my tenacity. With anticipation that this goal was going to be tested on a daily basis, I realized I better be prepared to deal with these hurdles. I decided to pull out my old Olympic psychological training to help me manage the challenges.
My goal as I approached my second Olympic games was to bring home one of those prestigious medals -- and I certainly had one color in mind. When I was training for the Olympics, one of the activities I did was to run, trying to build up my stamina for the entire season. Running became my sanctuary, and I used the time to remotivate myself for the upcoming year. I would rebuild my confidence by visualizing a perfect Olympic performance. But I wouldn't stop there. I imagined overcoming potential adversities. I visualized the support team I'd have around me. I envisioned the entire build up to the big day. And then the real inspiration came through the thoughts of standing on the Olympic podium and receiving my medal. I imagined the crowds, the noisemakers, the music playing. I even imagined the interviews I would do after my exhilarating win. I often found myself smiling as I was running through the streets. When I finally got to the Olympics, my positive visualizations helped set the stage for an experience that was more exciting than my wildest dreams.
Pick a positive future goal or resolution to repeat today to instill confidence in yourself. This doesn't mean you have to spend the day chanting in front of a mirror, "I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful" -- unless, of course, this works for you. But you should continually imagine a positive outcome to your goals. Successful individuals often visualize a perfect outcome hundreds or even thousands of times before they actually attempt a task.
It can also help to visualize the outcome if we were to give up on our resolutions. What does September look like if we throw in the towel on our diet regimen in February? What will happen in the long run if you give up on saving money now? How will your health be affected if you don't follow through on your resolution to reduce your stress?
Try to visualize a scenario today where you are reaching your ultimate objective. You need to imagine the sights, smells and sounds. Try to internalize the situation and see the scene through your own eyes rather than watching yourself from outside your body. You can break apart perceived walls and change your perception of the possibilities. You become the director, producer and actor of your own outcomes, from academic to career to healthy lifestyle goals. It's amazing what you can accomplish with positive thoughts.
Motivational Tips and Tools
As an Olympian, best-seller, inspirational speaker, and Biggest Loser motivational expert, I'm often asked for tips, tools, quotes and activities to help people reach their goals. I like to end all of my blogs with short tools that are driven from actual advice I've shared.
This week's tip:
There is a reason you decided to commit a whole year to reaching a certain goal. It obviously has great meaning, and it's something you truly want to stick with. So in addition to your visualization, try making yourself accountable to the process. Share your objectives with a friend or two and ask them to check in with you every few weeks. Having the supplementary pressure of answering to someone else could be the added incentive to keep you on track.
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