- Back to the drawing board. Part of it is to acknowledge that your previous attempt was unsuccessful and try to determine why. Look at it from all angles and see where you ran into difficulties. Did you pick too ambitious a goal? Did you get distracted with other things? Did you get discouraged and just give up? Now look at how you can restructure things to work around that problem.
- Try something new. I always get excited when I’ve got something new and different to try. Read new books or ask your friends which techniques have worked for them. Maybe even try taking a break from a goal that’s too difficult and work on something related, but somewhat easier. It’s a lot easier to feel motivated when you’ve had some success in one area.
- Enlist a coach. Sometimes working on a goal with a friend can give you some extra motivation. However, this can backfire as well, so you need to choose your partner carefully. If you pick someone who is flaky or not committed to making a permanent change, that could really mess you up. One tactic might be to find someone who is already successful at the goal you are working towards and ask them to help you. Or you might consider working with a personal trainer or a life coach. I had a life coach for about 2 years and it was amazing. It’s nice to have an hour a week or so to just focus on yourself and have someone hold you accountable for your progress.
- Check your timing. You never want to start a new change program when you have major distractions going on, such as a new job, a baby, or a crisis like a seriously ill loved one. On the other hand, the holidays can be a surprisingly good time to start. Even though there is a lot going on and it can be stressful, getting your household routines on automatic pilot can be so helpful in dealing with all the holiday chaos. Flylady does this every year, she calls it “Cruising through the Holidays” and she has a series of holiday-related activities that she breaks down into small 15 minute daily tasks. Me, I take a regular “Christmas Sanity Week” around the 10th of December. That gives me a break from work to do all my decorating, shopping and mailing so I can them out of the way early to enjoy my holiday.
- Willpower isn’t everything. Don’t blame yourself too much if you’ve failed at a task. So many people think that willpower is the answer to everything, when in most cases, it is the answer to nothing. Instead concentrate on building skills, identifying specific small changes that will boost your abilities, and surrounding yourself with friends who want to help you change rather than accomplices who will sabotage your change. If you have friends or relatives who like to overeat, shop too much, or sneer at your home improvement goals, then it may be time to get some new friends, or at least have a conversation about how their behaviors are not supporting your heartfelt attempts at change. They might not realize it.
- Be sure to reward yourself with frequent small rewards, even if it’s something silly like stickers, or a check mark on a calendar. Sometimes little things like that can be great motivators. On the other hand, fear of loss can be a good motivator too. Give a friend $20 to hold and they can’t give it back to you until you’ve stuck with your goal for 5 days in a row. Yikes! But you can see how something like that could make you take your change more seriously and make an intense and lasting commitment. If you aren't willing to gamble a few bucks on yourself, you might not be as serious about change as you believed.