When you’re starting out on a newly-designed plan or setting new goals, it feels fresh, exciting, and like it’s really going to happen (this time).
The first week is solid. You hit all your targets. You’re feeling pumped. You just know you got this.
The second week (or month) is so-so. You hit some bumps. You get a bad grade. Some of the enthusiasm is gone. You start to lose sight of the plan, or just start to ignore it.
Then it gets really hard. Hard doesn’t feel good, so you abandon the plan altogether, wondering why you even started. The negative self-talk chimes in, saying screw it, it was never meant to be. You feel defeated.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Might I make a suggestion as to why this keeps happening? You haven’t truly defined your “why.”
If you haven’t defined why you want to do something, when life throws you curveballs and derails your plan, you’ll be inclined to quit altogether. (Have you considered that these curveballs are a test of your commitment and perseverance? Perseverance is defined as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”)
Your why is what buckles you in for the long haul. It’s the thing that ultimately drives you and motivates you to stick to your guns, to say no when you need to say no, and put yourself and your plan first. Your why has to be compelling enough for your present self to make sacrifices for your future self.
Unfortunately, our whys are generally superficial and short-sighted. It may involve looking good on the beach in the next two weeks. That’s not an unworthy why, but you can probably already see that “looking good” isn’t compelling enough to say no to that tempting Dairy Queen frosty on a super hot day, and “two weeks” is not a long enough time for us to make honest, rooted, lasting change.
Your true why is going to have much deeper meaning for you. It’s set in the distant future. It sounds more like this:
- I want to set an example for my kids, that anyone can achieve their dreams.
- By completing this goal, I will be able to use my skills to help others.
- I want my future self to live in awesome health and wholeness.
- I want to elevate my state of living by making this change.
Write down your compelling why on a piece of paper and tape it to your mirror. Make it the background on your phone. Keep it as a visible reminder throughout your day. Verbalize it as a mantra.
Please keep in mind, the following things will undoubtedly happen. You will question your sanity along the way. You will be disappointed in your abilities. You will doubt your level of commitment. It’ll be very challenging at times, so much so that you’ll want to pull your hair out and/or run far, far away.
JUST STICK WITH IT. You were made for this moment! You’re way more resilient and adaptable that you even know. Your capacity for growth and change is only limited by your thoughts.
Remind yourself that you knew this day would come when negativity would rear its head. And, you know, logically, in your brain, that the hard times will pass. You will ace the next assignment. You’ll finish the 13th mile of your training. You’ll finally “comprende” that foreign language you’re trying to learn.
On the other side of your doubts and fears is the most amazing reward. On the other side of struggle and challenge is a level of personal growth you haven’t yet achieved, but have always had the potential to reach. Do your future self a massive favor; start today, and never surrender.
P.S. For an excellent and inspiring example of perseverance in the face of all odds, check out the movie Eddie the Eagle, about a Canadian man who dreamed of being an Olympian, and his path to achieving his dream.