As human beings we are ever-growing. As time goes by we encounter new things that pique our interest or reflect on habits that we would like to take on. Despite having the mental motivation to form a new habit, we don’t always have the full buy-in to start the process. As a therapist specializing in depression therapy, I have some pro-tips to help you begin to tackle that beast. There are many ways to harness your motivation to get you towards your goals so we’ve included a short list of ways to ignite your inner fire to form a new habit.
Sometimes getting started is the most difficult part and we need an extra boost to get going, especially when you are experiencing depression. One way to do this is to remember all the habits we have already formed to remind us of our past accomplishments with the goal for bringing that same energy into the present as we embark on forming a new habit. Another benefit of reminding ourselves of our capacity to grow is giving ourselves some positive reinforcement. While forming a new habit we can be quite hard on ourselves for any bumps we encounter along the process, however by reminding ourselves of times when we have overcome similar barriers we can redirect our focus to our ability to change and persevere.
Once you have that extra boost from reflecting on past accomplishments you can start to make a short list of habits you would like to have and choose which habit you would like to focus on. For more details on setting your intention, please see our blog post here.
Now that we have a clear idea of our ability to change and a clear goal in mind, we can begin to embody the qualities of a person who has the habit we would like to have. By connecting with qualities of the person who has our desired habit, we will further reinforce our belief in our own capacity to change our patterns. Depression does not need to run your life.
Forming new habits can be challenging and re-establishing our connection with our inherent motivation can be a key factor to our success. If you feel like you need additional support in enhancing your motivation, please call our office to meet with a therapist to help support you in your goals to live a full life.
Refocusing Your Intention and Resetting Your Goals
We’re about a month into the new year and this can be the time where commitment to our resolutions can start to become lackluster. Sometimes difficulties to maintaining our goals can lead to disappointment in ourselves and cause us to fall into this negative headspace where we wind up resenting our overall objective and decide it no longer matters. Where we get ourselves into trouble is when we pick ourselves apart for not being thin enough, productive enough, healthy enough, etc and we wind up setting these outrageous goals for ourselves that we don’t have the tools to reach and then get disheartened when we haven’t magically ridden ourselves of our love of ice cream on January 1st.
Growth is a wonderful thing- whether it be that we are going to start a new workout routine or that we are going to start carving out time for ourselves every day to enjoy and recharge. But setting a goal that truly means a lot to us as individuals is very different than setting one that we feel we need to attain to be valuable. If this is resonating with you, now may be a good time to refocus and reset your intention for your goals, both short and long term. Below are some questions to ask yourself as you check in regarding your current goal. Keep in mind that if you come across a question and think “Welp, didn’t do that. Better luck next year,” don’t worry! This is not a sign that your journey is doomed but rather an opportunity to possibly identify and overcome a barrier. We’ll say it a few times in this post but to start, remember you have permission to make changes along the way and any step you have taken to work towards something meaningful to you is something to be celebrated.
1: Is the goal vague or specific?
Having specifics can be helpful because we see the actual steps needed to achieve our goal. For example, if my goal is to be more patientI might not really understand what more patience would look like in different scenarios. So I could decide, for example, to be more patient with my family members when it comes to cleaning the house. Maybe that means meeting with my household and saying I’ll do my best to give my family members a full day before mentioning dirty dishes in the sink.
2: How are you measuring your success?
Is there a way that you will know you are achieving or working towards your goal? If my goal is to improve my organization skills I may measure my organization by my ability to identify what’s on the agenda for the day or maybe I will be able to accomplish my tasks for the day or week on time. By doing this I’ll have a clear marker to compare my progress to.
3: How attainable is your goal?
Whatever your goal is it may be helpful to check in to see if there are any pre-requisites to accomplishing your objective or if your goal seems so large that it is overwhelming, this may be a good time to break it up into smaller parts. For example, it will definitely be difficult to achieve my goal of walking 2 miles a day if I don’t have appropriate sneakers on day one.Furthermore, not being able to meet my first objective but trigger that disappointment we mentioned earlier and could direct me into a loop where I’m so busy focusing on my disappointment and allowing other things to get in the way, that I don’t actually start working towards my goal. Something that can be really empowering when we feel like our plan isn’t planning out the way we hoped is giving ourselves credit for what we have done to achieve this goal.Maybe I’ll celebrate when I prioritize going to get a pair of shoes and setting an alarm for the next morning to start my walking plan. It’s amazing how acknowledging a component of a larger objective can cause a surge of motivation to continue forward.
4: How relevant is your goal?
Goals are important. They encourage us to grow and prevent us from becoming complacent in things that are truly important to us. However sometimes we wind up setting a goal that does not exactly align with our intention. If it seems like what you’re working towards combats with your values and long-term aspirations, this may be a sign that the goal is not relevant to your overall purpose. If that’s the case it may be helpful to take a moment and examine what the cause of misalignment between the present goal and your mission is and perhaps, reassess and redefine your goal so they co-exist. This is not to say your goal should be attained without effort but rather your goal should reflect a true commitment what is important to us.
5: Is This Goal Time-Bound?
Deadlines can be helpful to keep us motivated and serve as a check in regarding our progress to keep us on track. For example, if I want to train for a marathon in a year, I’m more likely to meet this goal if I’m mindful of my deadline so I might come up with a monthly objective to increase my endurance and stamina. If I don’t hold myself accountable to a timeline I may be more likely to push off my workouts and my goal may slip further and further away from me. With this in mind, take a note of your goal and see if there is a realistic timeline to achieve your goal. As we said earlier, breaking a big goal into smaller parts can be very empowering. In this way setting deadlines for each smaller component can enhance our motivation even more by holding us accountable for checking in and keeping us invested consistently along the way.
6: Is There Anything That Could Get In The Way of Steps 1-5?
Life happens and sometimes we can’t anticipate what lies ahead. Our plans for achievement are not finite. We can be flexible in the steps we take to achieve success. So if there have been barriers or unforeseen disruptions in staying on track, give yourself permission to re-evaluate your plan to address these obstacles. Lastly, give yourself permission to adapt and, again, don’t forget to acknowledge the work you have already put in to grow.