Many of us set goals for both work and personal life, but how do you keep them going beyond the end of January? Here are four ways to keep that motivation going until this year’s office Christmas party!

Once the last bottle of prosecco has been popped, and the last few Quality Street are eaten, many people’s thoughts turn to the New Year and what they are going to achieve. The gyms are full of exercisers in new lycra and the slimming clubs are squeezing newly-resolved dieters through their doors. But as January turns to February, those treadmills are empty again, and the local takeaways start doing a roaring trade once more.

Of course, many of us set not only personal goals like losing weight or giving up smoking, but goals for our professional lives and careers. But why do so many of us fall by the wayside so quickly?

One of the reasons is that we set unreasonable targets. Planning to be a director in five years is all well and good, but you need to see some progress before the five years is up if you want to keep up the momentum. People who lose weight successfully always have a goal weight in mind, but they celebrate each pound or half pound as a step in the right direction.

That’s why one of the first things you should do is to set small ‘little and often’ goals, so that you can track your progress.

1. Be consistent

You need to ensure you have that motivation every day, so giving yourself small targets is the way to go. Want to lose half a stone this month? Then you need to lose a couple of pounds each week. Weigh yourself once a week and you reset your motivation for the next week. Want to learn the skills you need to get to the next level in your career? Set yourself weekly tasks. Setting bigger goals leads to failure – you miss the first month’s goal and then you have a whole four weeks to get through before the next way marker. And make sure you keep track of what you’re doing – sharing your journey with a like-minded individual can help – that’s why slimming clubs and exercise groups are so effective. Not only is there regular motivation but there is accountability (and a bit of competition!) too. If you can’t do that, ensure you keep a journal of your progress and achievements – whether it’s in a journal or in digital form – a vlog maybe?

2. Recognise that motivation can change

When you set off on your self-improvement journey, you will be visualizing the end result – being slim enough to wear that dress or fit enough to do Park Run. But as you get nearer to your goal, your initial vision will be in sight, and then you might change your motivation. For instance you might start to focus less on getting to your goal weight and more on avoiding unhealthy foods. You might start to ask what will happen to your career if you don’t achieve your goal. This is not a bad thing, it helps to shake things up a bit – you need to recognise it and work with it.

3. Ask yourself what you can do

Most of us don’t respond so well to being told what to do – and interestingly this goes for your inner voice too. Instead of telling yourself that you will achieve something – learn that new skill, master the art of public speaking, instead ASK yourself if you can do it. Research has shown that this form of inner voice is more effective as it helps to open up the task and to increase your motivation.

4. Know why you want it

You know that old adage ‘don’t do it for me do it for yourself? It’s very true. If you know why you want to achieve something, you are going to stay far more motivated. Wanting to achieve certain career goals is great, but if you’re only doing it because you think you should, your motivation is not going to last long. Instead, look at your reasons for wanting to achieve that next step on the ladder – once you can identify what they are, you’ll be far more likely to succeed. Try writing down the three big reasons for making a change, then keep it somewhere safe – a note in your wallet or a sticky note on your smartphone – and remind yourself whenever you lose your motivation.

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