1 Find your purpose, but avoid focusing on a specific outcome
If you want to lose weight, avoid focusing on achieving a specific weight. Instead, ask yourself why you want to lose weight and use that as the basis for your goal. Asking “why” will help you find your real purpose, which will help to improve your motivation. Setting a goal of achieving better health so you can have more energy for your hobbies, for example, takes the focus off of a specific outcome, such as getting to 150 pounds.
Also, it’s important to remember that early success will motivate you to do more, and better health and an increase in energy is an outcome you will likely be able to achieve quickly by being more active or eating a healthier diet.
By focusing on being healthier rather than achieving a specific weight, you will also be more likely to maintain your healthy habits. If you set a goal of getting to 150 pounds and achieve it, you may be more likely to eventually fall back into old habits and not sustain long-term weight loss.
2 Break your goal into components, and set realistic and achievable process goals
If your goal is to achieve better health, you need to figure out exactly what you need to change to make it happen. For example, you might identify two components that will help you achieve your goal: more exercise and a healthier diet.
Identifying the components is just the first step. You must also set realistic and achievable process goals for each component that make you feel excited and motivated. The more excited you are about your process goals, the more likely you will be to find the time to focus on achieving them. Some examples of process goals include:
“I intend to exercise for 30 minutes, four days a week, to achieve better health.”
“I intend to eat three plant-based dinners each week to achieve better health.”
“I intend to eat one-half of my normal portion of dessert after dinner every night to achieve better health.”
Part of goal setting should also include making a plan to achieve your goals. For example, with winter coming, it may be more challenging to exercise outdoors and going to the gym may not be an option during the pandemic. Investing in warmer outdoor exercise clothing and taking advantage of balmy days can help you stay on track.
It’s also important to remember that these goals shouldn’t require a huge sacrifice, and they shouldn’t make you feel deprived. However, they should require some effort — you want to feel good when you achieve them, after all.
3 Make a public commitment
Human beings are inherently social, and we want to connect with and feel accepted by others. We also want to avoid experiencing feelings of shame and embarrassment that can sometimes be associated with letting people down.
Making a public commitment to achieving your goal can help you hold yourself accountable and ultimately follow through. Many people find that their desire to avoid letting people down — and thereby avoid feelings of shame and embarrassment — is a powerful motivator to help them deliver on their commitment.
Examples of making a public commitment include telling family or friends about your goal, signing up for a virtual weight loss program, or joining an online fitness program with a group of co-workers.
4 Engage with likeminded people
People tend to be more successful at achieving their goals when they connect with other likeminded people. Also, we tend to model the behavior of the people we like and admire, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who reinforce habits that will help you achieve your goals.
Finding a group of likeminded people who you admire will help you stay motivated — especially during the cold, dark months of January, February, and March, when New Year’s resolutions often hit the skids. Some people may find success and accountability by being part of a larger group, while others may prefer to pair up or join a smaller group. Thankfully, there are now ways to connect with others even during the pandemic, such as virtual support groups and group fitness classes. Whatever size group you choose and whether it’s in-person or online, engaging with others will keep you connected to your goals and make you more likely to be successful.