Hopefully, you have had a chance to begin to implement the first 3 secrets. Leaning into change is often more sustainable than going all in. Now it’s time to bring in allies. (To learn about the first 3 secrets, read Part 1).
#4 Find support…enlist cheerleaders
Change is hard. It is even harder to keep motivated when in addition to the critic in our head there is a critic across the kitchen table from you.
YOU NEED A CHEERLEADER
Be judicious in who you share your goals with. Just because someone loves us and we love them doesn’t always mean they are good at supporting us with change. There are lots of reasons for this:
- Your change makes them feel like you think they should change too and they don’t want to or aren’t ready yet.
- They see you as the person who has always been this way. Someone who has failed to change in the past and can’t resist pointing out this obvious fact.
- Maybe they just don’t want to see you disappointed when you fail again (it’s sad that they can’t see that you can make lasting change)
- They see that you have made changes in the past but haven’t stuck with them. Gee, maybe your lack of support is the reason it was so darn hard to stick with it, honey.
This is why you need to find a cheerleader to share your goals with. This could be a support group and accountability buddy or a good friend or family member. Just make sure that they understand their role–to tell you that you can still do it when your resolve waivers, to give you big ass high fives when you make any progress, and to do the massive happy dance with you when you reach your goal. That’s it. It’s that simple. They are there to tell you that you are amazing and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. They are there to support you and get you back on track if you falter.
SUCCESS TIP: Accountability buddies can be great. Checking in with them weekly or having someone to work out with can be motivating. BUT remember it is still up to you. If they miss a workout, you don’t. You are ultimately accountable to yourself, to that fabulous new you that won’t exist if you don’t show up for that workout or don’t write or draw for 30 minutes today. That book (or painting or song or app or product) that is your gift to the world won’t be birthed if you don’t show up. So commit to showing up accountability buddy or not.
- Make a list of 5 people that have supported you in the past or you know to be upbeat and positive. They don’t need to live in the same town as you but it is nice if they do when it comes time to celebrate.
- Reach out to the person on the top of the list and contact them and tell them that you are working on a new habit, goal, or change (don’t tell them what it is yet unless the type of goal is a deal breaker for them) and are looking for a supportive cheerleader and you thought of them. Ask them if they would be willing to be your cheerleader. Give them the job description: to tell you that you can still do it when your resolve waivers, to give you big ass high fives when you make any progress, and to do the massive happy dance with you when you reach your goal. If they can’t, move on the next person on your list and so on until you have your cheerleader.
- If they accept, now tell them your goal. I know that many people think that you should publically put your stick in the sand and declare your intentions to the world. This may be the type of motivation that works for you so go for it if it does. For many people though, this opens them up to armchair quarterbacking from the family and friends peanut gallery.
- Next, make plans on when you want to check in with them. It can be regular like weekly or monthly or it can be looser. You can call with good news or when you need support.
- Decide what your benchmarks, mini and big wins, are and how you will celebrate.
#5–Affirmations & Visualization Celebrate
We are all plagued with negative internal dialogue. Some of us more than others. The antidote to this is affirmations and visualization. Affirmations are positive statements that help us re-program our thinking. Creating affirmations around your goals helps reinforce what you are doing. It is like being your own cheerleader. Even better because you know what smack your inner critic is talking so you are best at countering it.
Visualization compliments affirmations. The goal is to imagine what it will be like when you successfully complete your goal. You imagine finishing each step along the way and then crossing the finish line. The more detail you bring to the image, the more effective and powerful the visualization.
- Write affirmations for the habits you want to create. For example, I eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep to make me healthy. Or, I am a good writer and writing daily is easy and brings me joy. Read these to yourself every morning and ideally again before you go to bed.
- Spend 3-5 minutes at least once a day (great to combine with affirmations) visualizing yourself completing your goal.
SUMMARY: Celebrations keep us motivated and mark our progress. They are a moment to take stock and to acknowledge all the hard work and dedication that you put into your goal. Don’t skip the celebration. Trust me, I have made this mistake often (well if I want to say something that I am always consistent about is not truly celebrating my progress and successes.) Excuses for skipping celebrating:
- I don’t have time right now.
- I don’t have the money right now.
- It really isn’t that big of an accomplishment yet. When I hit X, then I will really celebrate.
WHY SKIPPING CELEBRATIONS IS BAD
Rituals and festivals are important elements of society because they bring us together and give us a chance to find joy, mark important dates, and bring us together as a community. Celebrations big and small can accomplish much of this even if we celebrate alone. Celebrating creates a positive association in our brain with what we just did. It keeps us motivated and it marks a moment in time. When you don’t celebrate you don’t acknowledge all the great progress that you have made. We all like to win. Celebrating lets us acknowledge that win.
Design your celebration. Is it a reward like a massage, a new outfit, dinner out, etc. Make it something special and make sure that you tell everyone that you are celebrating. Tell the server, the massage therapist, the salesperson, that you are here to celebrate X (a month of going to the gym every day, a month of daily writing, completing a chapter or a painting). And if you are comfortable with it, go up for a high five. Most people won’t leave you hanging and that contact stimulates your dopamine centers and gives you a nice emotional boost.
SUCCESS TIP: Little wins keep us going. It is important to have an early win to keep you motivated. Having smaller goals that we can reach quickly result in better long-term success and greater feelings of accomplishment. For example, you are better off setting a goal to lose 10 pounds than 20. If you only lose 7 and your goal is 20, you feel like a failure. But if your goal was 10 pounds this will seem like great progress. Stretch goals aren’t as motivating as you would think when we fall short. Break big goals into little goals and work on them one habit at a time. Success is always sweeter than “almost there” so enjoy small wins that add up to big change.
Finally, the last secret.
Resilience is the secret sauce of all successful people. It doesn’t matter what your IQ is if you have this awesome EQ skill you will be happier, more likely to reach your goals, more successful at work (more likely to get promoted and/ or get a raise), more likely to finish college or any project you start, and more successful with your relationships.
Why? Because resilience is the ability to bounce back when things don’t work out. It is that indefatigableness, the ability to not be beaten down by failure or setbacks. Resilience is what will keep you in in the studio making another painting after that gallerist said that there isn’t a market for “your type” of work. It is what motivates you to send your manuscript to yet another publisher after already receiving 20 rejection letters. It is what makes you show up to the gym even though you missed going for 2 weeks because of your cold or because you were out of town for work.
It is that voice in your head that tells you that even though you are knocked down that you are not out. That you totally have got this and one or ten setbacks isn’t going to stop you
It is the understanding that failure isn’t a bad thing but just part of the process. It is super rare to hit it out of the park the first time at bat. And if by some miracle you do, and I pity you if that happens because it has happened often enough to me to make me cry, repeating it is never a guarantee. Trust me on that one! You need to fail to figure out what doesn’t work. Inventors know this. Edison made 1000 lightbulbs before creating the final one. His view about this process is something we should all adopt:
Your failures aren’t really failures. They are opportunities to learn what isn’t working, what doesn’t fit, what you could improve, and an opportunity to try again. Instead of saying that you failed, try saying I am learning. [Insert I am learning graphic. You didn’t fail, you are learning] Take the negative self-talk out if it. Change your language. Don’t tell yourself or others that you failed. The approach you took just didn’t work this time. “I am tweaking and trying again.”
But you say, “I am just not wired that way.” Well, resilience is a skill, a muscle that you can develop. Unfortunately, our education system isn’t helping develop this these days. Too much focus on outcomes vs. process and curiosity.
- Make a plan for failure. Imagine what failure would look like and then write down all the things that you would learn from it. What would you do differently if you had a do-over? What tweaks can you make now based on this information before you fail?
- Change your thinking. Focus on process, not results. How can you look at your daily life and see it as a series of opportunities to learn? Be willing to take a different approach when something doesn’t work. Think about didn’t work and see what you can do differently.
- Take risks knowing that if it doesn’t work out you can try again.
- Next time something goes wrong immediately reframe it in your mind not as a negative but as a positive. What did I learn? What did I do well? What would I do differently?
- Stay flexible. Be willing to change course if something isn’t working. Resilient people know when to modify their goals and when to quit.
- Maintain relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. In a crisis, you can turn to them. When you face obstacles, be willing to ask for help. No one can do it alone and resilience is recognizing when you should ask for help.
- Find ways to help others.
- Create meaning. Have a larger purpose for why you are doing what you are doing so you can see setbacks in relation to the big picture.
- Manage your emotions. Be positive. Remember that while you can’t control the circumstances, you always have control over how you respond to them.
If your goal for this year is to tackle that creative project that has been on hold for far too long, join me in Florence, Italy October 15-22, 2019. Experience a personal creative renaissance. Spend a week identifying the necessary habits to keep your project moving and creativity flowing, learn how to tame your inner critic, revel in being part of a dynamic supportive cohort of creatives. Registration is opening soon. Sign up to be the first to know when registration opens.
Good luck on your goals. I know you can do it! Cue the happy dance…