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As many as 80% of people fail their New Years’ Resolutions by February, and only 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions by the end of the year. But if you want to deeply improve your life, and especially if you want to build a creative career, you’ll need to stay motivated long past February.
Today I’m going to show you how to do exactly that, using three strategies I’ve built into my own life.
3 Ways to Stay Motivated Past February
1. Change your New Years’ Resolutions into goals
Words have power, and I think the word “resolutions” has the power to set us up for failure. We already know 80% of the people who make resolutions fail them by February. If we make it into February at all, or into March, we’re still ahead of most. If we don’t even get that far, we’re still just being average humans, and that’s okay, right?
The things we call “resolutions” are also often too nebulous to actually be useful goals. They’re things like “be healthier”, “lose weight”, “make more money”. Things that might be desirable, but are too unspecific for you to know when you’ve succeeded, or for you to break down into smaller goals.
If you have a list of New Years’ Resolutions, transform it into a list of goals. Make them specific, measurable, and achievable. Give yourself a better structure to work within, and scrap the negativity intrinsic to the word “resolutions”.
2. Track EVERY success
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to track and acknowledge every single success, no matter how big or small. You don’t necessarily need to celebrate every single day’s creative work, but you do need to acknowledge it.
The simplest way to do this is actually something recommended by one of my high school teachers: create a “Done” list instead of, or in addition to, your “To Do” list. Put every single thing you’ve accomplished, from brushing your teeth to the exact number of words you wrote, on this list. Often just writing everything down will make you realize that yes, you have done a lot today.
Over time these lists can become an entire notebook filled with your daily accomplishments. When you’re feeling demotivated or struggling with self doubt, turn to this notebook. Read your accomplishments from each day, and acknowledge how much you’ve done. You’ll soon realize that if you can accomplish that much, you can accomplish much more.
3. Make minimum and maximum goals
Are you still feeling overwhelmed and demotivated? Consider splitting your goals into two lists, a minimum and a maximum list. This is something I’ve done for about three years now, and a habit several of my writer friends have already stolen from me. Now it’s time for you to steal it too!
The minimum goal list should consist of things you absolutely must achieve to a) survive and b) consistently improve your life, even if those improvements are small. For example, my minimum goal when I’m working on a first draft is usually 300-500 words, depending on work commitments.
Maximum goals, on the other hand, are what you’ll accomplish if everything goes according to plan. These are your ambitious goals, the ones you’re not quite sure you can accomplish but you’re determined to try anyway. When I’m writing a first draft, my maximum goals are usually 1500-2,000 words a day, again depending on my work schedule.
You could create a list of medium goals as well, but I find that having these two lists usually means I end up somewhere in the middle anyway. These lists also greatly reduce my stress, anxiety, and depression. On a bad day I simply accomplish my minimum goal and return to self care activities, no guilt included. And on a good day I get to hit my maximum goal and celebrate it in the evening.
The one caveat is that your minimum and maximum goals must be related. Your minimum goals should be working toward the same definition of success as your maximum goals, just at a slower rate. You need to be consistently moving toward the life you want if you actually want to feel better about yourself.
You can find millions of tips for staying motivated online. That’s because everyone is different, and we all need different tools to stay motivated. This is just what works for me. Try it out, and if you love it, great! If you don’t, take a look at what else is out there or twist my methods to suit your needs. Your journey to self care is entirely your own, and nobody else can do it for you.
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