Each of us has done this at least once. Set ourselves a rather lofty “to-do” list, brimming with goals and aspirations, and tasks that we want to achieve in the coming months. We tell ourselves that we’ll finally complete last year’s never ending to-do list, and set ourselves the task to be a more productive mama, wife, employee and friend and still have time to pursue our own interests as a woman.
But by the time March creeps up, we seem to have slowly albeit surely, rolled back into last year’s rut and once again become entrenched in life’s busy schedule. And it’s certainly not stemming from a lack of self-discipline! Between school and homework, ferrying children from one birthday party or enrichment class to another, groceries, housework, holidays, family commitments, picnics, brunches, dinners, and barbeques… the list is endless.
Now, what seemed like an easy milestone to achieve is once again looking like a desperate aspiration somewhere on the looming horizon. As the infamous quote goes, “For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, some time to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
So how do you make sure that you stay on top of life’s juggling act and still have enough time for the woman in you? It’s not as hard as it seems.
Here are our top 10 ways for staying motivated and achieving your goals!
Review your life and think about what is working well and what isn’t. Instead of tackling the same old things that never seem to change, choose an area that you know needs improvement (rather than a radical change!). Think long term and make sure it’s something you can realistically see happening. Choose the top 5 things that are most important to you and work on achieving those first.
2. Write Your Ticket to Success
People who write their goals on paper and put them in places where they will see them are significantly more likely to achieve those goals than those who merely make mental vows. Jotting down resolutions makes them appear more real and creates a greater connection between your thinking self and your doing self.
3. Outwit the rebel in you and make the change a gradual one
To give your willpower some wiggle room, do NOT make absolute 100% commitments. Pledges such as ‘I’m never eating chocolate again’ are bound to crash and burn by day 3, because giving up your favorite daily treat cold turkey is only going to make you think about it endlessly before finally giving in. Instead, cut yourself some slack and say, ‘I’m only going to eat one piece of dark chocolate each night’. Our supply of self-control is finite — with only a limited amount of willpower – so make changes that require small acts of will, not weeks of vigilance.
4. Reward yourself for a job well done
When you feel discouraged, remind yourself how much you have already achieved. Determine in advance what rewards will be at each small milestone of accomplishment and what the “Grand Prize” for completion will be. Remember to celebrate your successes — you deserve it!
5. Make time for you
No matter how busy you are, schedule in time for yourself once a week – be it a simple manicure session, a new hobby or just coffee with friends, always make time for you and stick to it. Use that time to stop and re-evaluate where you are and where you want to go. A happier you means that you have more energy for your family and loved ones. But if you’re still fighting for time like you did last year and are not seeing your to-do list move, you need to change your strategy. Out with the old, in with the new mama!
6. Realise that New Year’s Day is just another day and that making resolutions on this day are no different from making resolutions on any other day
While a new year brings about feelings of a new beginning, placing too much emphasis on it being a brand new start (and thinking your whole life is going to change!) is unrealistic. Think of the occasion more as a catalyst for change and a jumping-off point. Limit yourself to one or two goals, and then add more along the way as you achieve the ones you originally set out to complete.
7. Wait until you are ready for the next bite
Instead of being overwhelmed by your list of commitments, make it easier on yourself by waiting till you finish what’s on your to-do list, before taking on any new challenges. The first few months of the year are always busy, so focus on finishing one of last year’s projects during this time and leave the new plans for later in the year.
8. Create your support network
Tell a close friend or someone you trust completely about your plans and the changes you are making in your life. They will provide you with support and keep you focused on your goal. Having people you can talk to at any time of day or night without being judged is an enormous source of support, and if you feel like you are wavering at any time, their support will ensure you don’t give up.
For bigger and more specific goals, such as training for a marathon, consider joining a support group – struggling over the same issues with other people will make your journey that much easier and less intimidating!
9. Understand that perfection doesn’t exist
Remember that minor slip ups when reaching your goals are OK and should be expected. Don’t give up completely because you ate an entire bar of chocolate while on a diet. Everyone has bad days. Resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track. When you fall off the wagon, use the next Monday as the day to recommit and start again. If you have a weekly chance to get back on track with your commitments, you’ll have a greater chance of success.
10. Focus on the process rather than the end goal
Take each step one at a time and be happy with your progress. The only way you’ll get to where you want to go is to complete every small step along the way, checking it off with pride as you accomplish go. Enjoy life for the journey that it is meant to be, not the destination.
Priyanka is a mama to 7-year-old twins, and moved to Singapore 11 years ago (and counting!). Having grown up in Kenya and lived in several countries around the world, Priyanka has always had a passion for the outdoors and travelling, reading and being a foodie. Now a published freelance writer, she is also currently writing a children’s book about her twins and their favourite teddy bear. You can read more about Priyanka here.