Do You Have Staying Power? 5 Strategies to Stick with Your Goals.

 

This morning a client and I were talking about making changes and the trouble with middles.  We both agreed. Beginnings are exciting. Endings are dramatic.

Middles? They kinda suck.

There’s energy, excitement, and possibility with beginnings. There’s relief, closure and completion with endings.

Middles, though are just full of trouble.

If you are making a longer-term change, all your troubles will come up in the middle. Frustration is in the middle. Boredom is there, too. There’s more opportunity to encounter people working against your resolve in the middle. The middles are where you are “giving up” short term satisfaction for the “longer term” reward of sticking to your plan.

Let’s face it.

Sometimes we want what we want when we want it.

It’s hard in the middle to remember why you wanted to lose that weight. When it’s cold and rainy outside, it’s easy to forget to remember that going to the gym is an essential part of your “get healthy” plan.

Nevertheless, there are things you can do to help yourself stick to your goals when you hit the doldrums of middles.

For purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that our goal is to lose 30 pounds. If it takes 4 months to accomplish this one mega-goal, we are going to have to have changed behavior for 120 consecutive days.

There’s a whole lot of middle involved in losing your mid-life middle.

If we eat 3 times a day and have two snacks for each of those days, we have to “pet the food dragon” 600 times (5 meals/snacks tines 120 days.) That’s a HUGE commitment to change.

To help us stick to longer-term goals, we have to have a “middle game strategy.” We have to deal with the ennui of middles. We have to have – in advance – a workable game plan to deal with frustration, temptation, and such.

Here are five strategies that can help you keep the fire of your vision alive during those pesky annoying middles:

 

1. Redefine “Winning.” Look for a series of small “wins” rather than just one ultimate “win. In our example, a win could be eating one healthy meal. A different win could be taking a 15-minute walk or saying “no” to temptation.

 

2. Double Your Wins by Connecting The Dots. Now you want to expand the idea of individual wins to add the complexity of connecting one good choice after another. Eat a healthy breakfast. Win!!! Now you’re half way through your morning and want a snack. Take a short walk first. Win!!! Plus a bonus win for making two consecutive winning choices.

When you eat that snack, you choose a healthy one. Win!!! And, again, a bonus win for connecting that dot to the walking one. Make your goal to be the connection between two good habits and not just the isolated habits by themselves.

 

3. Get an Accountability Partner. It’s more fun and effective to share your “change journey” with a friend. This person agrees to be an “accountability partner” with you. This is the person who is your cheerleader and loving task master. It helps if your Accountability Partner is also working toward some change, but you do not both have to be working toward the same goal. Make a regular daily time to share with this person. Keep it simple. You can text your wins. Pick up the phone if you have an unexpected challenge. On occasion, make time to talk about your global plan and your current strategies for getting there.

 

4. Celebrate Your Wins. Assume your success at the outset. It is really, really important to have regular surprises and treats to celebrate your mini-wins. Every week – at the outset – schedule some treat into your calendar. Assume that you will succeed and “earn” your win. Don’t pick a treat that is contrary to your overarching goal. Don’t head to the donut shop to celebrate your two pound weekly weight loss. But, you might get a manicure, or a massage, or take yourself to an art supply store for new watercolor pencils.

 

5. If You Fall, Booster Rocket Yourself Back UP! Do not allow yourself to dwell on misfires, mistakes and miscues. If you “fall off the wagon” simply make your very next choice a win. That’s it. No self-injury required. Call your Accountability Partner, ask for support and simply get back on task.

 

As you move toward your goal, you will start to see evidence of your success. Use the thrill of positive change as motivation to keep going.

And now we need your help. In the Wisdom Circle space below, please help us expand our toolkit for managing middles.

And, as always, let us know what changes you are trying to make, and how we can support you in that process.

 

Love, Jennifer

Photo: Flickr, _Abhi_

 

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28 Responses to Do You Have Staying Power? 5 Strategies to Stick with Your Goals.

  1. Tracey says:

    This is AWESOME ADVICE that is much needed and appreciated by me. THANKS, Darlin’!!

  2. Shawn says:

    I hate middles of all kinds! My middle, the middle of a donuts, etc. Thanks for the tips to make it through.

    • You made me sad with your middle of the donut reference. Remember that Nestle Quik commercial where the bunny sucks down the chocolate milk and then laments, “That’s the saddest sound I know!”

  3. Great advice, J. I’ve come to believe over the years, observing clients who meet their goals (and those who struggle with the process), that it’s all about habit, and not at all about willpower. Connecting the wins, that’s a great paradigm for looking at consistent effort.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m going to need to lean into my own suggestions soon. Taking Boy C to the grocery store is always a recommitment to my health goals.

  4. Marian Kramer says:

    I have exactly the goal you mentioned. I am in the middle of loosing my 30 pounds and getting more healthy after a long, dark winter. I have lost my first ten. My husband, on this plan with me, has lost 13. I exercised, in one form or another, 10.75 hours last week! Zumba, cardio classes, hiking in the canyon.

    I had a little “problem” last week called “fluid retention that kind of hid my progress. It was caused, I think, by hormonal fluctuations that come with menopause.

    I was frustrated by the program managers who weigh me three times a week and who were “concerned.” They looked to be about 15 years old. I knew I was following the plan exactly. I knew how much effort I was putting into my exercise. I KNEW I FELT SO MUCH BETTER!

    So, this week it appeared I had lost three pounds over the weekend. The 15 year olds were congratulatory. I started my period.

    I know that my “middle” is all about my commitment to myself, for myself.

    I celebrate mySELF.

  5. My trouble with “keeping an eye on the prize” is living in the same-day-in-and-day-out of having 2 little kids land!! Love being at home with them but they like things to be the same and that certainly starts to feel like “slogging”!

    • Indeed. Motherhood sucks, except when it’s amazing. Then it’s delightful. and then it’s awful. But you’d take a bullet for them, so you must really, really like it, right?

  6. helen says:

    right in the middle of changes … and so bored.
    in the middle of writing a bizz plan
    in the middle of changing life
    in the middle of starting all over again
    in the middle of life

    … @shawn i need that donut ;D

  7. Jen, this is fantastic advice!
    It’s why we always recommend the use of KPI (Key Performance Indicators). It’s a way to mark progress- and stem backsliding- with a sense of immediacy.

    • Jennifer says:

      Sometime you have to explain to me what all this means. I get the KPI, it’s the stem backsliding that stumps me.

  8. Kimberly L. Alvarado says:

    Excellent advice, with simple ‘baby steps’…. just what I need.

    It’s very true that the middle is where the boredom and confusion can work together to put up a mental block wall. It’s that place where we can’t quite see the light at the end or reap the benefit fruit. It’s that place where we need the most encouragement to stick to those goals.. Baby steps offers that bridge to the goal!….. gives me back that “Yes, I can!”

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s also where you look WAAAAAAY down the road and you still have 27 pounds to go but you’ve been not eating ice cream for like 3 WHOLE Weeks and you get ticked at someone right while you’re driving by Baskin Robins and it’s just all over. Then you have to have your post-binge guilt binge, and then your post guilt-bing what’s the use binge, and so on and so forth and thus and such.

      Love, J

  9. Kate Britt says:

    I like your focus on “wins” as a tool for progress. In the middle, it helps me if I remember to turn losses into wins, too. During a recent 21-day get-fit-again challenge, I lost my impetus somewhere in the 2nd week. I slacked off, didn’t keep my promise to myself to “do something active every day”. Then I remembered: that little loss of commitment could be a win, IF I took some time to figure out what was going on inside of me when I slacked off. Sure, my body might be taking a lazy day, but if I’m going to just sit here, I’m going to use that time to figure stuff out. Take the lesson. Learn it. Write it down. Keep it handy to read the next time (because I know myself, know there will be a next time).

    • Jennifer says:

      And, since you’re making yourself make effort to “lose” it’s just easier the next time to put the sneaks on and get out the door.

  10. Jenny says:

    Here you go again, Jen, right on the mark as usual! The middle of the week is even hard to deal with sometimes lol! As far as my business goes–very much what you described. The beginning was exciting, but once the novelty wore off, it was hard to keep the momentum going. I managed to be patient & hold on, and I’m happy to say that I’m finally seeing some tangible results.

    Kudos on the post & Cheers to your health!

    • Jennifer says:

      You bring up a really good point that I wish I had included now, Jenny. When you stick with the middles, the spark can reignite and you fall in love with your project all over again.

      Thanks for mentioning it!

  11. Laura says:

    The first time I lost the 30 pounds I had a small blizzard (DQ) for dinner about once a week in the summer. What a delight. Then I gained that 30 pounds back plus a couple. This time of losing the same 30 plus, I have well-balanced dinners. But I allow for low point treats so I don’t back track – again. I totally do what you talk about – a day at a time works pretty good. Until something knocks me sideways emotionally. Then a meal at a time works better. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Millen says:

    very interesting, practical, and easy to implement ideas… and fun to read too.

  13. Kaylee says:

    LOVE love love this. It’s exactly what I needed to read. I’m afraid I’m stuck in the dreaded “middles” – after 8 months of blogging (but only consistently since February), I’m stuck right in the middle. My goal really has no end in sight, which makes it even harder! Thanks for the great tips – I love the idea of small wins (and celebrating them!) Actually, just hearing that my recent boredom is part of the process makes me feel loads better.

    Thanks for helping! Onward I go. :)

    • Jennifer says:

      I here ya’, Sweet Pea!!!! We creative types are always looking for the next great adventure. I’m finding excitment in mid-way breakthroughs, though. I hopeyou signed up for updates. I want to hear how it goes for you!!! Jen

  14. Thanks Jen, it’s much needed advice for a handcrafting proprietor who’s stuck in the (disorganized and fragmented) middle of a glorious plan to redirect her life and struggling day to day with lack of support and classic symptoms of depression. I am a firm believer that every little step no matter the size is a win towards the ultimate goal of success for my handmade jewelry business. I practice a system of reward for minor wins along the way and reward myself when I receive a positive comment or Etsy “treasury” inclusion of one of my Simply Katie’s designs. My reward; a day to myself, maybe lunch at a favorite restaurant and a purchase of new jewelry making materials (if I have the funds).
    All your suggestions are strategies already greatly utilized by me in my pursuits, but I am lacking in one immensely important area towards achieving my ultimate goal of success. Because I battle with depression (and try to keep it in check with a vitamin rich diet) I can easily lose interest and concentration so I am in desperate need of an accountability partner. Someone to kick me in the ass and keep me focused, to keep me accountable for my decisions, to help me keep my goals in check and to shift me back in “forward” when I get shoved into “reverse”. I don’t have many resources (or maybe I don’t recognize the willing) and need help to clarify my goals – this is where I could use that good old kick in the ass. Any suggestions?

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