Commit to positive self-talk — though your brain may resist
Ever notice that it’s very easy to feel defeated when setting about making a big change, much easier than it is to feel encouraged?
This, as Diane Strachowski, a licensed cognitive behavioral psychologist explains, is because our brains are trained to protect us by scanning our environment for negativity and point out wrong versus right.
Fight this feeling of defeat by playing devil’s advocate with your inner critic and insisting on positive self-talk.
“Say for example, you think, ‘I can't change; it's too late in the year’; instead, you want to ask yourself, ‘what is the evidence it's too late? Did you know that it takes 90 days to create a new habit? [I] still have plenty of time left.’”
If you struggle with low self-esteem or find yourself in constant self-criticism mode, imagine that you’re talking to a beloved friend instead.
“You would never say to [a friend] ‘Yeah, give up you will never make it,” says Strachowski. “Ask yourself, ‘What would I tell a friend if he or she were in the same position?’”
Be flexible with your goal — it may need adjusting
“One thing to keep in mind is that what works for one person doesn't work for the next,” says Palumbo. “I have clients who thrive off of getting up early and having a long morning routine, and other clients need the extra sleep and function better in the afternoon.”
The goal of a goal, meta as it sounds, is to make life better. If you’re struggling to get up extra early to implement a morning meditation practice, and finding yourself more stressed by the end of the day, maybe you’re better off focusing on a calming night routine instead. Changing how you reach your goal shouldn’t alter the outcome.
Abide by ‘Grandma’s Law’
Strachowski points to “Grandma's Law”, also known as the Premack Principle in psychology.
“Grandma says, ‘If you want to ride your bike, you have to eat your spinach first,’” says Strachowski. “If you want to stay motivated, do the hard thing first followed by a reward. Such as, ‘If I go to the gym first then I get to watch my favorite show afterwards.’”
Enlist an accountability partner
Strachowski also highlights the importance of holding yourself accountable so that you can stay on track and not flake out on your goals. For this, you should enlist a friend, family member or even a mental health peer who you can count on to help you stick to your word.
“Being accountable means committing to at least one other person what you are going to do for the week and then follow up,” says Strachowski. “If that is a commitment to getting back to the gym four times this week, who will you commit to and how will you be accountable?”
Setbacks will happen. Embrace them as part of growth.
“The process of change and personal growth is very rarely a linear path or a singular event,” says Michelle Fraley, a life and relationship coach. “Instead, learn to look at setbacks as a natural part of the process of change. It is the sum of all the parts that will create lasting change and carry you through fall and into the new year ahead.”
Kayce Hodos, a mental health counselor in North Carolina, seconds this sentiment, stressing to be patient with yourself whenever you start making changes in your life.
“We all get stuck in our routines and slip up when trying something new,” says Hodos. “Forgive yourself and try again.”
Celebrate every achievement
Walsh reminds goal setters to celebrate each and every milestone along the way, no matter how small.
“If you can find joy in the journey, you've already won,” Walsh says.
No big goals? Tackle small annoyances
If you don’t have any major goals to conquer this fall, consider simply eliminating the little problems that may be holding you back ever so slightly.
“Take a few minutes to think about some little things that regularly irritate you but aren't big enough to get on your radar to fix,” says Cheryl Fulton, associate professor in the professional counseling program at Texas State University. “This can be things like a squeaky door, a pile of papers that need filing or a person that you need to say no to — anything that regularly gets a sigh or eye roll from you but doesn't seem important to address right now. Pick one of these things to tackle once a month. Tackling these small annoyances can add up to less stress and greater peace of mind.”
Tips for a Better Morning
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