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5 Ways to Recommit to Your Goals Now

by 
author image Lauren Ditzian
Lauren Ditzian, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Northern California. Originally from Madison, CT, Ditzian studied philosophy at Brown University and earned a master's degree in somatic psychology at The California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. For the last four years she has worked at expressive arts centers and community mental health agencies in Northern California.
5 Ways to Recommit to Your Goals Now
It's never too late to recommit to your goals. Photo Credit: jacoblund/iStock/GettyImages

It doesn't have to be New Year's Day for setting your goals. (In fact, research shows that there are benefits to breaking your resolutions.) You can recommit to your goals any day of the year — including today!

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As a psychotherapist, I help people throughout the year develop and maintain new habits to keep them motivated and achieve their goals. So even if you've fallen way off the wagon, here are five techniques to help get you back on track.

1. Reevaluate Your Goals

It’s not always clear whether you’ve chosen the best goals until you’ve taken them for a test-drive. It makes sense to try something out for a few weeks and then reevaluate. Maybe running hurts your knees, but you discover that you love to dance. Don’t wreck your knees or stop exercising altogether because you swore you’d run every day. Dance instead!

Collect information along the way and modify as you go. A common obstacle, proven by science, is false hope syndrome, in which people underestimate just how difficult certain goals are to reach and tend to blame themselves rather than the impossibility of the goal itself. One way to address this pitfall is to seek external feedback when setting goals. If you feel like throwing in the towel, don’t give up. Speak with a friend or a professional to make sure you are setting appropriate benchmarks. Changing your goal to a new goal is way more effective than not keeping any goal at all.

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Make sure your goals are right for you.
Make sure your goals are right for you. Photo Credit: jacoblund/iStock/GettyImages

2. Don't Sweat the Setbacks

It’s OK if you got off track yesterday — because today is a new day! It is all too common to treat a setback as a total failure. The truth is that your response to the setback is far more important than the impact of the actual event. Use this experience as a valuable opportunity to learn about yourself so that you can do it better next time. You missed a week of workouts? No big deal. It’s Monday morning (again), and it’s time to hit the gym!

So much of life is beyond your control (e.g. you missed your workout window because you got stuck in a meeting), so there’s not much point in beating yourself up over every stumble and stutter. Instead, take this opportunity to recommit to your goal. Small setbacks can seem important in the moment, but they are of little consequence in the long run once you’re back on track.

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3. Simplify Your Decision-Making

Studies show that when confronted with too many decisions, people struggle with what is known as “decision fatigue” and begin to make poor choices. Additionally, it is difficult to accomplish vague goals. Rather than “save money,” which is poorly defined and requires a thousand small decisions every day, set up your bank account to automatically deposit 5 percent of each paycheck into a savings account. Anything you can automate, rather than having to repeatedly make discrete decisions about, will free up your focus, willpower and energy for other tasks.

Using a fitness app can make achieving your goals more fun.
Using a fitness app can make achieving your goals more fun. Photo Credit: Guido Mieth/Taxi/

4. Plan Well

With any action goals, I recommend that people start the month by taking out their calendars and making a schedule. Front-load decisions by making “appointments” with yourself that you treat as seriously as you would a meeting with your boss. Additionally, research shows that using “implementation intentions” (aka preparing to face temptation with an “if-then” plan) is a powerful trick for maintaining commitment. For example, if your goal is to be more patient and argue less with your partner, when you feel irritated, commit to taking three breaths before speaking. Surprisingly, many studies have shown that making these little “if-then” plans substantially increases the likelihood of achieving your goals.

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Photo Credit: HAKINMHAN/iStock/GettyImages

5. Reframe It as Fun

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Find a way to enjoy the process of achieving your goals. It is far easier to maintain a long-term commitment to something that you genuinely enjoy doing. Flip the script. Turn your goal into a game. When working with clients, I highly recommend that people break larger goals up into small steps. Find a cool app that helps you track your progress as well as organize the stages of achieving your goal. Work out a friend so that you keep each other accountable. These tiny efforts add up to serious impact over time. It will feel great to accomplish your goal, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

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What Do YOU Think?

What are some ways you stay on track with your goals? Will you use any tips suggested in this article? Please share in comments!

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