I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve started over—goals, fitness routines, smart eating plans, and personal and professional resolutions. As a coach, I know that after a few failed attempts at the same goal, the goal needs to be revisited. If it’s a worthy goal, a wanted goal, an achievable goal, then it’s met all elements that need to be pursued; but it still needs to be thoughtfully analyzed before real progress (or abandonment) occurs. So I offer up a couple of questions for me, and you, to consider when starting over becomes more of a habit than actually pursuing the goal.
Are you personally invested in this goal? I struggle with meditation. Sounds strange right? What’s even stranger is the fact that I’m a certified meditation instructor. I currently don’t teach it; because I haven’t built a personal practice around it enough to feel right about empowering others to do so. This is frustrating.
When exploring the idea of personal investment in goals, I’m learning that we must first focus on the outcomes to fuel motivation. When results are measurable, like landing a job, it’s a lot easier to be invested in it than when the outcome is less measurable—uh, like meditation. Still, finding some way to define and continually visualize what success looks like really does help you be okay with starting over again and again.
According to Sarah Bossenbroek with Habit, the personalized nutrition company, “Visualizing your goal forces you to define the details. Not just what you want, but when you want to accomplish it by, who will be involved in the process, the places your goal will take you, and the benefit you’ll get from reaching it.” They also recommended attaching emotion to it, in other words being personally invested in it. This exponentially helps you improve your odds of success.
Are you fearful your hard work has been in vain? According to Ashley LaPointe, fitness trainer and coach, it comes down to our psyches. “We struggle with starting over when it comes to goals because in our minds, ‘starting over’ makes us think that everything we have worked so hard for has been thrown away.” Having to face the starting point so many times before and again can really psych us out and Ashley shares that for some, it can feel terrifying starting over. “We’ve been at the bottom before and know how hard of a climb it is and going through it once is difficult enough, so the thought of doing it all over again scares us.”
Think of it this way—by moving forward you are capitalizing on all the hard work that has brought you to this point. You’re not starting over but rather you are now conditioned for the journey. Much like training for a marathon, the work you’ve done to date has prepared you for the starting gate.
Are you motivated to work toward it? Give yourself some grace. There will be days when you just can’t commit or you face a personal set back that takes you off course. I have learned over the years to be okay with this. Taking time to just chill and be okay with the idea that you don’t have to commit every single day to working on your goals. A day off, as long as it’s not too many, is a healthy way to go.
“Giving ourselves grace when we get off course is healthy and necessary,” advises Ashley. “If we don’t, we can actually backtrack. We all get off course but acknowledging it helps redirect us.” Then when you are ready, reflect back on what you really wanted to do in the first place.
“We can harness our inner motivation by writing down our goals and when things get tough, read them out loud,” she said. “Writing them down puts it in our mind that it is important to us and why you wanted this goal in the first place. Figure out a schedule that works for you and never forget the reason that you started.”
Are you ready to prioritize your goal? But after we examine that it’s a goal that we are truly interested in working towards we need to look at why we are not prioritizing it. When it comes to my meditation practice, my consistency is broken when I feel I have too much to do. “If I just get an early start on my work, I’ll feel better,” I tell myself. By doing so and skipping meditation for a workout (though I like to do both in the morning) I’ve missed out on the golden opportunity to actually build my skill of focus and improve my health in a way that can allow me to do more. Can we say counterintuitive? Simply put, I’m letting life take over and not prioritizing my health.
Are you harnessing all of your resources? Like me, you’re not in it alone. You have tons of resources for supporting you when it comes to staying on course. One of the reasons that I started A Healthy Career is to help myself, my clients, and all of you readers and writers find a community of support and inspiration for staying healthy and productive while clocking a 40+ hour work week.
“Resources help especially when you find people that have the same goals as you,” Ashley says. Even by sharing your objectives with others or via social media will help you feel obligated to make progress. “For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds and go to the gym four times a week, post about it. Post your progress and your friends and family can keep you accountable.” She also suggests partnering with others and building social events into your efforts, like sharing a healthy dinner, to keep you motivated and less isolated.
Back to one of my personal start overs—mediation practice. Yes, I see the benefits, own the discipline, and admire so very much, all who can make this part of their daily practice. But for some reason, I keep starting over. But Ashley gave me another great idea, researching benefits—this helps with my “why” and certainly can help you, too. I’m warming up to the idea of meditating more often now that I am looking deeper into some of the clinical research, thanks to Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson. In other words, I’ve found a connection that is creating for me a personal investment. So now that I’m less focused on my restlessness and more focused on the lifelong personal and professional benefits, I’m all in. Namaste.
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.