Ah, the start of a new year. You’re starting off with some pretty great goals, and you’re determined to make them a reality.
Armed with enthusiasm and a plan of action, you write down each goal — because that’s what all successful people do, right?
With intention glowing around you, 2020 has started off on the right foot. And, for a while, some real progress is made!
But as January rolls on, motivation slowly turns into lackluster indifference, fueled by a few excuses and overall discouragement.
By the time February hits, you’ve just about abandoned your resolutions altogether.
Sound familiar? It does to most people — a whopping 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the first week of February.
Most people can relate — motivation is easy to come by when the goal is fresh, new, and exciting.“But once you realize it has to become part of your lifestyle and [you have to form] a habit, it's not as easy to keep that going,” says Jeff Sanders, speaker, author, and host of productivity-focused The 5 AM Miracle Podcast.
“Change is always a difficult thing, and [to be successful in inspiring lasting change] it takes building up habits and creating a structure,” says Ryan Gottfredson, PhD, author of the upcoming book Success Mindsets: Your Keys To Unlocking Greater Success In Your Life, Work, & Leadership. “But I think a lot of times we struggle in creating a structure that allows us to build good habits.”
To cultivate lasting change, motivation needs to be approached like a marathon rather than a sprint.
But how, exactly, is that structure created? How can you keep motivation high when that “New Year’s glow” wears off? And how can you stay motivated to hit your goals and be productive all year round?
5 Ways To Keep Your Productivity High All Year
Here are five ways to keep that motivation train cruising at high speed until the clock strikes midnight again next year.
1.) Mindset Matters
Whenever you make a resolution, you have every intention of following through with it. But if you really want to succeed, don’t focus on your resolutions—focus on your mindset.
Mindset is the lens through which challenge is viewed. When it comes to staying motivated, productive, and focused on crushing your goals, there are two areas of thought — a fixed mindset and a growth mindset (pioneered in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the groundbreaking 2006 book on motivation, by Stanford University psychologist and TED speaker Carol Dweck.)
With a fixed mindset, you tend to operate under the assumption that the current situation is set in stone; the person you are today — is the person you’re going to be forever.
“Those who have a fixed mindset, they don't believe that they can improve — and so they're less likely to invest in themselves and continue investing in themselves when the going gets tough,” says Gottfredson.
With a growth mindset, you believe that with effort, you’re capable of growth and change. “Those with a growth mindset, they believe that they can improve and they believe that even if the going gets tough, they still need to keep going,” says Gottfredson.
Those with a fixed mindset believe their innate set of skills, qualities, and talents are pre-determined, and cannot change regardless of intention to change them.
On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe their skills, qualities, and talents, can be adapted, evolved, and developed through effort, hard work, and dedication.
Here’s how a better mindset can improve the chances of achieving your resolutions:
Resolution: To spend less time mindlessly scrolling through social media during work hours.
With A Fixed Mindset: The first time you find yourself scrolling through Instagram while on the clock, you’d think “Well, that’s it. I just don’t have the resolve to stay away from my phone.”
With A Growth Mindset: “This approach didn’t work, but no worries — I’m going to try stashing my phone in my desk to see if that keeps me from getting distracted.”
Having a growth mindset can make it easier to continue working towards your goals, even if you run into challenges or roadblocks, because of the inherent belief that you’re capable of changing and developing the skills necessary to succeed.
“Those with growth mindsets are going to be more effortful and more persistent towards goals than those with a fixed mindset,” says Gottfredson.
But how, exactly, can you make the shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Gottfredson recommends a few different exercises, including:
- Collect small wins. In order to develop a growth mindset, you need to truly believe you can improve—so why not give yourself proof? By taking on more manageable challenges — and collecting small wins — you will help prove that you’re undeniably capable of making changes and improvements, which can give you the confidence and motivation you need to start working towards bigger goals.
- Change your internal dialogue. The way you talk to yourself can play a huge role in your actions. If you tell yourself you can’t change, you won’t — but if you tell yourself you’re capable of growth, growth becomes possible. If you struggle with negative self-talk, focusing on changing your internal dialogue (for example, telling yourself “I’m learning from X” instead of “I’m failing at X”) can be one of the most powerful exercises for moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
- Meditate. Meditation has been shown to increase resilience — or, in other words, the ability to better deal with challenges and bounce back from failure or adversity. In other words, pump up the zen.
2.) When Motivation Is Lacking, Phone A Friend
It would be great if you were intrinsically motivated and able to hit every goal just because you made a commitment to yourself.But the truth is, commitments to yourself are often the hardest to keep.
“If your goals are totally isolated, it's just you by yourself — and often times those are the ones where it's too easy to quit,” says Sanders.
If you want to stay motivated and productive to hit your goals when that New Year’s glow wears off, you should plan to enlist the help of an accountability partner.'
“The accountability factor is usually the biggest thing that keeps someone going...You feel more willing to push through because there's someone else involved,” says Sanders.
Create lasting motivation by buddying-up on your goals.. Was your resolution to read for at least 10 minutes every day? Start a monthly book club; that way, you have to finish each month’s read so you can discuss it at the meeting.
Is your goal to start networking and make more meaningful connections for your business? Start a competition with your other entrepreneur friends to see who can pass out the most business cards at an upcoming networking event — and schedule a check-in to make sure you all actually follow up.
Staying motivated and productive all year round can be challenging — but adding a layer of social support can make it a whole lot easier.
3.) Make It Worth Your Time: Define Your Why
Setting a resolution because you “should” do something may work for a little while — but if you don’t have a strong why behind your resolution, it’s going to be hard to stay motivated in the long-term.
“If you want to stay motivated, you have to be connected in an emotional way with your goal to begin with,” says Sanders. “It can't just be a logical thing. It really [has to be] an emotional attachment.”
Spend some time defining the why behind your new year’s resolutions.
For example, maybe your resolution is to spend more time working on your side hustle and turning it into a full-time gig. Knowing the why behind that goal, whether that’s having more freedom and flexibility in your life or getting the opportunity to turn your artistic passion into a job, will make it easier to stay motivated to make the necessary sacrifices to hit that goal in the long-term (for example, saying no to after-work happy hour to go home and work on your website).
4.) Plan To Fail
One of the biggest reasons people lose motivation to hit their resolutions (and abandon them before February hits) is because they “fail.” For example, you skipped a day at the gym when you made a promise to yourself that you’d make workouts a part of your daily routine.
Well, have you ever heard the old saying “failing to plan is planning to fail?” As it turns out, planning to fail might not be such a bad idea.
No matter how committed and motivated you are to hit a goal, you’re going to run into setbacks, mistakes, and failures. But if you plan—and work them into your goal from them get-go — it becomes much easier to stay committed and motivated in the long-term, even when you get off track.
In fact, embracing failure as part of the process isn’t just a way to stay motivated — it might even help you smash your goal in the long run. One recent study found that early failure might actually be an indicator for future success; according to the study, (which studied the career trajectory of scientists), having an early miss in their career increased the probability of participants publishing a successful scientific paper.
For example, if your goal is to workout every day, go into it knowing that there are days you’re just not going to be able to make it to the gym (no one’s perfect!).
Develop a contingency plan for when you skip a workout — like “if I skip a workout, I won’t beat myself up about it; instead, I’ll journal on why I didn’t have the motivation to hit the gym that day—and then start fresh the next morning.”. That way, you don’t look at skipping a workout as a “failure;” it’s something you planned for and know exactly how to deal with.
When you plan to fail, you “already know that's built into the system,” says Sanders. “That’s a lot easier to then bounce back from…[than] saying, ‘I'll stay perfect every single day.’”
5.) Forget Resolutions—Set Daily, Monthly, Quarterly, And Annual Goals
New Year’s resolutions tend to be grand, sweeping life changes — like running a marathon or hitting the six-figure mark in your business by the end of the year.
But using the new year as an excuse to completely overhaul your life can be completely overwhelming — and the chances of burning out by the time February hits are high.
Instead of trying to make major changes to your life, pinpoint some goals that you’d like to continuously improve on a daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. By breaking down larger resolutions into smaller, more achievable goals, you’ll be able to see more progress in real-time — helping you to stay motivated all twelve months out of the year.
“Long term is very difficult to plan for. It's hard to see all the changes that will happen over the course of the year,” says Sanders. “So anytime you can shorten a goal in terms of the deadline, it really makes that goal much more achievable.”
Keep Your Resolutions Rockin’ All Year Round
So, to recap—losing steam from your New Year’s resolutions as time passes is totally relatable. However, there are ways you can keep the motivation alive (through February and beyond!). If you feel your grasp on your goals starting to slip, remember to:
- Focus on moving your mindset from “fixed” to “growth”
- Look for ways to attach external accountability
- Get clear on your why
- Embrace failure as part of the process
- Break down overwhelming annual resolutions into smaller, more manageable goals with shorter timelines
It can be difficult to stay committed to your goals once the magic of the new year starts to fade. But with the necessary tools to stay motivated and productive in the long-term, your hindsight of these goals will soon be 2020 😉
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Next: How To Create A Productivity Tracker To Reach Your Goals This Year