Whatever your goal may be, big or small, you will eventually plateau. You’ll be making great strides, checking off all of your smaller goals and then out of nowhere, your progress will stall. The bad news is, you can’t avoid plateaus altogether. The good news is, knowing it’s coming helps you prepare ahead of time.
when plateaus strike
- Remember why you started. Lucky for you, I anticipated this very moment. Initial excitement fades. Motivation wanes. A plateau strikes, and you’re ready to call it a day. This is where your why comes in! Did you want to learn to dance for an upcoming wedding? Are you saving money for a big vacation? If your why hasn’t changed then neither should your commitment to it. There were days that I was discouraged by my lack of visible progress; I still have those days. That’s when I go back and read “I want to have more energy throughout the day.” Then I swear a bit and get back to work.
- Change takes time. We’ve all seen those memes that are a little too relatable. “I’ve been dieting for two hours. Am I skinny yet?” We want our efforts to be rewarded immediately; unfortunately few things yield those kinds of results. Whatever your goal may be, slow and steady still wins the race. I know it’s of little comfort now, but this will actually help to make sure the changes stick. Instant gratification feels good initially, but it’s rarely motivational. When we get what we want right away, we tend to think “My work here is done” and revert back to the habits we’re looking to change.
- Fight the “I don’t want to’s.” You won’t always feel like going to the gym or eating vegetables (or whatever it is you’re doing for self-improvement). To be sure, it’s important to be able to take a break and loosen up now and then. Recently I’ve realized there is a difference between needing to take a break and simply not feeling like making the effort.
If I truly need to take the day off, the mere thought of working out exhausts me. I dread getting dressed, making the drive, walking in. Not feeling like it just feels like I want to stay on the couch and be lazy. I’ve finally learned to discern between the two and fight through the latter. It only took me thirty years.
people need people
- Enlist an accountability partner.
ForceAsk someone in your life to help you stay on track. On days you’re discouraged, they can remind you of your goals and why you’re working so hard in the first place. It’s likely that they will also tell you when you’re being too hard on yourself. Often, they see progress you can’t.
My husband is great for the latter; he’s always quick to point out the positives I tend to miss. I’ve also met some wonderful ladies through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss. We talk almost daily about our struggles, our wins, and we encourage each other to keep fighting the fight. The most important qualities in this partner are honesty and compassion. You don’t want someone who will merely tell you what you want to hear. You need to know when you aren’t doing your best. At the same time, choose someone you know will give you grace. Feeling guilty for your shortcomings will not help you achieve your goals.
- Motivational podcasts. As with most trends, I was incredibly late to the podcast game. This has been a game changer for me, though! I try to listen to a motivational podcast every morning as I’m getting ready; if that isn’t possible, I’ll listen while I’m at the gym. Some of my favorites are Mind Body Green, Motivational Millennial, and Life is a Marathon. Each of these is a bit different, but they all cover the topics of self-care and mindfulness and are upbeat. In the short time I’ve been listening consistently, I can see a difference in my entire outlook. This card-carrying cynic is becoming, dare I say, a bit optimistic!
Enjoy the journey
The truth is your goal is not an endpoint on a map. Whatever you’re looking to accomplish, it’s best to look at it as a lifelong commitment as opposed to something you’re going to do and then be done with. If you want to quit smoking, you won’t just quit and never think about it again. It will be a daily commitment to not smoking that will make that change stick. Once you can shift your thinking to look at all of your goals that way, you’ll be more likely to stay the course when the inevitable plateaus arise.
I want to know: How do you stay motivated?
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