I'm too busy, I'm too tired, I don't have enough money. We’re all guilty at times of using these excuses, but the truth is, they block us from progressing and bettering ourselves. Why are we so obsessed with New Year Resolutions? It’s because we use the start of a new year to propel us forward and make changes that we otherwise put off or make excuses for. Whether it’s going for that promotion, finding the perfect partner (or closing the door on an old one), or dedicating the time to learn that musical instrument we’ve always wanted to try; whatever we start off the year hoping to achieve, we often let life get in the way and find that by the end of January, few of us have achieved what we set out to do. This may sound disheartening, but the good news is that there are ways to ensure that your goals stay in place and don’t get side-lined by life’s daily grind or your excuses, or both.
Motivation is the key to achieving what you want. Each and every one of us needs to take responsibility for our own time and how we use it. Of course, if what you enjoy doing is binge-watching Netflix and your goal is to finish that boxset in a 24 hour sitting, then you probably don’t need any tips, you do you! For those of you who are hoping to achieve a more substantial, long-reaching goal and repeatedly find yourself getting frustrated about wanting to make a change in your life, here are some points to consider and some tips to help you make those first steps.
There is enough time in the day
If you think about it like a cycle it helps to spot gaps in your routine.
On average, you go to work for 8 hours per day.
You spend 30 mins on breakfast, 60 minutes on lunch, 30 mins in the shower and 60 minutes for dinner.
Not forgetting one of the most crucial things we all need: 8 hours of sleep.
What about the other 5 hours spare you have every single day? There. You’ve just gained 5 hours a day you didn’t even know you had spare! (Even if that boxset gets 60 minutes of this extra time, you still have 4 hours to dedicate to something else…how will you spend yours?)
Apple have introduced a great app to help us recognise how much screen time we are accumulating…the results may surprise you. You can find out more about the best apps here.
Don’t just take our word for it; watch Arnold Schwarzenegger explain how he makes time work to his advantage, no matter what he’s trying to achieve, here.
Plan, organise, multitask, repeat
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If you’re one of those people who finds themselves procrastinating, then adding a bit of structure to your week can only have a positive impact. Plan in that evening to see your friend who you've been meaning to message. Book in those gym sessions or other hobbies. Put it all in your calendar at the start of the week and you’re less likely to allow plans to fall through as you’ll be more mentally prepared for them to happen. Go one step further and create a pattern; go to the same class/lesson/meeting every week/month (the timing isn’t relevant, just make it regular). Habits are easily formed and you’re less likely to skip plans if you’re attending them as part of a steadfast routine.
Preparation and planning can seem like a chore at first, but after a while it’ll be old hat and you’ll find yourself doing meal-prep for the week without realising you’re even doing it!
Tip: multitasking is a great way to make planning less of a chore. Utilise time spent on public transport by studying for that exam. You can learn that new language by listening to audio-lessons while you’re in the bath, cooking dinner or doing anything else you need to get done!
It’s very easy to get home from work and feel that you don’t have the energy to achieve anything else that day; but you’re wrong! Change it up; don’t go home, go straight from work to your other activity, this will prevent the ‘at home wind-down’ process from kicking in. Research suggests that inactivity is linked to low energy, so the more active you are, the more energy you’ll have.
Putting your goals down on paper will make them real. This applies to small goals which you plan to achieve in a week, or more long term goals that might take years to achieve. Use a sketchbook, photos and imagery because visual aids will help you imagine where you want to get to. Visualisation also forces you to think about the details. Imagine yourself achieving your goal; what does that look like? Who is there with you? How long did it take you? Were there any additional benefits that you hadn’t originally thought of? Really try hard to define the details of your goal and you’ll build up a clear picture of what it will look like; this will give your motivation a boost and you’ll make more focussed decisions to help you get there.
Tip: Spend more time outdoors to improve your creativity levels. Break away from your usual routine to enjoy the fresh air and you’ll feel more productive, less stressed and more in control of your emotions.
Find out how to make the most of the daylight hours (even when you have a full time job) here.
Anything is possible; and why that’s a lie
All these tips are redundant if your goal is unachievable. It may be hard to hear, and the opposite of inspirational, but it is a fact.
In a world of Instagram-centred lives and the top 10% of the population being able to reach you through your phone and slap you in the face with their wealth, good looks, unlimited holidays and constant stream of achievements; it’s easy to believe that we can all achieve absolutely anything we set our mind to. This isn’t accurate. If your goal is to be the CEO of your company by the end of the year and you’re currently working in the mailroom, it’s not impossible, but it is unlikely that you’ll achieve it. Strive for smaller goals such as working your way up into the office, lower hanging promotions and more gradual steps up the ladder. That’s not to say that you won’t ever be CEO of that company, and it’s incredibly important that your ambition and drive isn’t hampered, but make it a long term goal and manage your expectations in relation to the timeframe.
Tip: If you don’t know whether your goal is achievable, ask around. Ask a specialist in the field of work you’re looking into if your qualifications are where they need to be. Ask a personal trainer if it’s possible for you to run a marathon next year. People will be keen to offer advice, but ask multiple sources to make sure you’re getting the most accurate response.
Be kind to yourself
Life can, and will, throw all kind of problems at you and it’s important to allow flexibility to be a natural part of the goal-reaching process. For example, a break up, a redundancy, a bereavement, these are all emotionally demanding challenges that should take precedent in your mindset as they occur. It’s important not to dwell or find yourself taking comfort in the misery that these hurdles can shroud you in, but allow yourself time away from your schedule to address them and heal from them before refocussing on your goals.
Finally, if you have a goal, it’s achievable, and you’re following these steps to ensure you make it happen. Do not let other people derail you. If you believe that you can do something, the only people who will try and persuade you otherwise are those that want you to fail. There are many reasons that this could be the case, but it’s important that you surround yourself with positive influences and people who support your process and your progress.
Stationary to organise your mind: https://www.kikki-k.com/au/home
Read more about inactivity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24154584
10 reasons you’re tired: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-you-are-tired