It’s at about this time of year that many of us get frustrated with ourselves for not keeping our new year’s resolutions. We start the year full of enthusiasm and very keen to make significant changes in our lives, but usually by February motivation seems to dwindle away and we end up back where we started.

This is a common theme for many of us that gets repeated every year. Your new healthy eating diet now includes chocolate again, the year’s gym membership you bought so you could become a fitness fanatic is now just a monthly direct debit, and you’re back to that midweek glass (or two) of wine. It can be very easy to be critical of yourself: you set yourself a task, did okay at the beginning, but now you feel like a failure.

… Take a step back and think about at the bigger picture …

It’s at this point when we really need to try and look at things with a cool head. Take a step back and think about at the bigger picture. What were your goals? How did you plan to achieve them? What went wrong? It’s not about just ignoring your inner critic. That voice is trying to communicate with you for a reason. Something is wrong. Listen, acknowledge and reflect. Once you have identified what the issues were, you can begin to understand what the problem was. Then you can do something about it.

Remember that motivation is directed by a positive emotion. Once negative feelings start to interfere, if we don’t act, our positive expectations will be tainted, pulling us away from our goals.

… motivation is the “crucial element in setting and attaining goals”…

Psychology Today states that motivation is the “crucial element in setting and attaining goals” and “you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control.”

Here are some tips to help you improve own level of motivation.

1. Break it down

Your overall goal might be a big one but you will only get there one step at a time. Set yourself some mini targets along the way. Then when your hit each target you will be motivating yourself to hit the next one.

2. Chart your progress

This will give you the chance to look back and see how you are doing. You can remind yourself that even though you may have your ups and downs, you’re on the right track. Create your chart however you want but remember the key thing is to keep it up to date and check it all the time.

… pace yourself better and keep building bit by bit…

3. Step back a bit

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to go all guns blazing when you have lots enthusiasm for something, but you can burn out easily. If you turn back the dial a little you can pace yourself better and keep building bit by bit.

4. Reward yourself along the way

I’m not talking treating yourself to a doughnut every time you lose a pound, but you’re doing something positive, and by giving yourself some rewards along the way (perhaps after achieving every mini target) you’re reinforcing your motivation to achieve your long term goals. Plus you’re making things more fun!

… Just say to yourself, ‘I just have to show up’…

5. Just get on with it

“80% of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

There are many days when we just can’t be bothered. We know we won’t be as good at something that day and our tasks seem a lot bigger and harder than they did the previous day. At a time like this it’s a good idea is to turn the situation on its head. Don’t look at the end point because it will be too far away. Just say to yourself, ‘I just have to show up’.

Get started with something and you will have contributed to your goal, even if you don’t do as well as the previous day you have still done something. This is A LOT better than doing nothing.

6. Finally

Remember that motivation is a desire to do things. So the key element of achieving goals is keeping that desire alive.

About The Author

Jonny Sibbring is a Counsellor based in Shoreditch and Waterloo in London. He has years of experience workng with a range of issues and offers reduced rates to students. Go to to find out more.

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