Tis the season of empty resolutions. As you look back on 2016, you cannot help but to think about all of the missed opportunities for improvement. You tell yourself “Next year will be different. Next year I will get fit!” You whip out your iPhone and go to the calendars app and touch January 1. You add “Go to Gym” to January 1 and set the alarm for 6am. Convincing yourself that you will change your lifestyle in a few weeks, you decide you should eat all of the junk food possible while you still can and continue your unhealthy diet.
This is a prime example of instant gratification. We as humans are emotional beings and setting long-term goals is not in our human nature. While in a calm state it is easy to make these goals and promises to yourself or others, when emotion strikes we lose all good intent. It is easy to believe that you will achieve the goals you set out when you make them because of your current emotional state of being inspired. However, when that feeling goes away and your cravings set in, you will grab another pastry with no hesitation.
This applies to every human being whether your struggle is with your health, your spending , your work productivity, or your personal relationships. The word procrastination stems from the Latin words “pro” meaning “for” and “cras” meaning “tomorrow”. We have tons of distractions in our digital age that keep us tied up and prevent us from achieving our goals. Instead of letting these things be distractions, let them be motivation or positive reinforcements.
If you have a Netflix show you are sucked into that has been keeping you from going to the gym, make a vow to yourself that you will not watch that show until you are on the treadmill. Or that you can watch that show as soon as you are finished with your homework. If you can form this habit, you will begin to change your feelings towards going to the gym from a negative feeling or a “punishment” to a positive feeling or a “reward.” While this still takes tremendous dedication and sell-control, it will make the process easier as you begin to form good habits.
Finding a way to reward yourself for your hard work is crucial in staying motivated. Another important thing to do on your road to improvement is to set short-term or bite size goals that you can achieve. Break your long-term goal down to specific milestones such as “lose 10 pounds by January 25th” or “spend less than $70 per week on food.” In doing so your long term goal of living a healthy lifestyle or spending less will seem more attainable.
According to Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University,
“Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”
We are the source of our own happiness and our own misery. If you want something bad enough, YOU are the biggest obstacle in your way. Instead of making a New Year’s Resolution and starting your new lifestyle on January 1, START NOW! Stop delaying your success and stop putting instant gratification before your dreams. Let your full potential be your biggest inspiration and make 2017 your best year yet.