It’s January the first, you have been reflecting on the year over the previous few days and you’ve narrowed your new year’s resolutions down to a few key objectives. You’ve imagined how good it will feel come the end of January and you are inspired to implement the plans you’ve created.
Fast-forward two weeks and that early year excitement is starting to wane. The challenges of lockdown, disruptions at work, family dynamics shifting, and it feels like you’re having to juggle things just to keep everything up in the air.
All of a sudden those new year’s resolutions are falling down the priority list. Sure, you would like to keep them going, but it’s less appealing than it was two weeks ago and your will power is starting to dip.
This is a common picture for many and it’s perfectly natural. In any given normal year these January resolutions can suffer around the middle of the month, but in this of all years, no-one could blame you if you let things slip a bit.
But if you really would like to keep the momentum going and push through this tricky period, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you reach the end of the month with a new, productive and life enhancing habit firmly in the bag.
Here’s how you can push through the mid-January motivation dip:
- Reconnect with the desire driving the goals you set. Hedonic adaptation is the process by which all things, both good and bad, start to normalise over time. This means your levels of inspiration and motivation will naturally dwindle – unless you intervene. Look beyond the new year’s resolution to the end result you are seeking. Focus more on the end goal than the current process. Write down your new year’s resolution and the desired end goal on a small card, and keep it close to you (purse or wallet is ideal). Once or twice a day, pull the card out, read your goal aloud and reconnect to that inspiration you had at the beginning of the month.
- Crystallise your mental picture. Our minds think in images and movies. Think about the colour of your front door, or your back garden, or your office. As soon as you think about the context your mind will conjure up an image and it will appear on the screen of your mind. The same rules apply to your goals. The more detail you can add to the image of your goal, and the more you can view it as if it is happening now, the more you will tap into those early feelings of inspiration. Investing just a few minutes each day visualising your goal will give you the energy you need to stay disciplined and on track.
- Mental time travel. This is a simple mental exercise that can help you to stay on track. As human beings we are evolutionarily designed to get what we can now in case things become harder to come by later. This means we are naturally inclined towards immediate gratification over long term planning. In the moments before you are considering doing (or not doing) your new year’s resolution, fast forward in time 6 months and imagine what it will be like when you’ve been doing this for so long it’s natural and easy. When you move your mind into the future, your body will experience it as if it is now. This is a lovely way to help your body feel what it will be like after your hard work has paid off.
All of these exercises will take no more than five minutes a day to complete, and yet they will give you a daily boost of determination and focus to help you reach your goals.
Starting a new habit is full of challenges, and you can’t expect yourself to be inspired and full of joy every time you try to make a better choice, but with these simple tools you can give yourself the extra motivation needed to reach your goals and make 2021 a more productive and healthy year,