Humans are creatures of habit, whether they support or hinder our mental health. We love our routines, like making coffee in the morning, ordering our favorite meal, or going on a run at a specific time. However, we also have a plethora of unhealthy tendencies like going on a cigarette break at work, binge-watching Netflix, or using alcohol as a social lubricant. Finally, we all have different aspirations and a drive to break bad habits for good and introduce positive changes in our lives, but that often turns out to be quite challenging.
If you wish to change your life for the better and invest in your mental health through, for example, improving your sleep schedule, keeping up a workout routine, or reading more books, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we deep dive into setting long-term goals, introducing positive changes and sharing how to overcome obstacles on your way.
Let’s get started!
Why Introduce Positive Changes in Your Life?
One of my favorite psychologists, Abraham Maslow, emphasized the important role that self-actualization plays in achieving mental well-being. In his hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is at the very top, focusing on fulfilling your potential and investing in your growth.
It’s all about engaging in projects that can add structure, meaning, and a sense of purpose to your life.
Do you wish to do more sports?
Would you like to work on your business idea more often?
Maybe you’d like to prioritize practicing mindfulness regularly.
Whatever it is you’d like to achieve, start by asking yourself: “Why?”:
- Is it something you truly want for yourself OR is it just an attempt to fit into societal expectations?
- Do you care more about receiving external validation OR investing in your dream?
Before jumping into action hot-headed, reflecting on and fully understanding the reasons behind your new goals is a good idea. Doing so can put you on the right trajectory toward success and save you time and energy.
3 Common Mistakes + How to Avoid Them
Even with such clarity of your motives, the journey of self-improvement is uncertain, challenging, and filled with obstacles. How to face them? What tools can you equip yourself with?
Let’s take a closer look at 3 most common mistakes to avoid:
Mistake 1: An Incorrectly Formulated Goal
A perfect example of a poorly set goal is a New Year’s Resolution. People seem to be obsessed with them; undoubtedly, there’s social pressure to pursue ambitious goals coming January 1. Yet, by Valentine’s Day, most of us already gave up on our resolutions and pushed these projects to the back burner.
Most often, we fall into the trap of:
- biting more than we can chew, setting the bar too high, and increasing the risk of struggling with burnout later on
- formulating a very general goal that is too broad, where tracking progress isn’t possible.
As with many things in life, we need a balanced approach when setting our goals. Locke and Latham claim that what will help us effectively implement long-term positive changes is a combination of thinking big and small simultaneously, or in other words, setting subordinate and superordinate goals.
|focus on practical steps
|encompass our core values and aspirations
|include small daily tasks
|include a broader perspective
|foster measuring and tracking progress
|they’re a good source of motivation
|help us feel:
a superordinate goal:
- I want to become a graphic designer because it’s always been my passion, and I’m curious to learn more about it.
a subordinate goal:
- I’ll achieve that by spending 1 hour daily on following different courses, looking for jobs, and gaining extra experience in this field
Mistake 2: Quitting After a Failure
Have you ever stopped showing up at your gym after a couple of missed training sessions?
Perhaps you tried preparing your meals more often, then had a couple of takeaway meals and abandoned the idea of cooking for yourself fully?
So often, we judge ourselves too harshly, have black-or-white thinking, or look for any excuse to give up trying. The real failure here is quitting after a minor hiccup, not having the hiccup itself.
Making mistakes, tumbling, and falling are all a natural part of our shared experience here on Earth. The secret lies in using each failure as an opportunity to learn a lesson and adapt accordingly.
Whenever you slip up, remember to prioritize learning your lesson and getting back on track as soon as possible:
- Perhaps you took on too big of a challenge. If yes, then reduce the frequency of your new activity. Instead of quitting your fitness journey altogether, you can recognize that going to the gym 3 times weekly is more feasible than doing so 5 times a week.
- Maybe you encountered an unexpected event that prevented you from fulfilling your goal. Rather than giving up on it entirely, you can consider blocking some time to pursue this objective in a couple of months.
Mistake 3: Fixating on the Outcome
Making a positive change in your life does not happen overnight. On average, it takes around 66 days for a new habit to get automated. That’s where repetition and consistency play the most essential roles.
Even then, if you fixate on the outcome without appreciating the beauty of the process, you might get stuck in the swamp of your unrealistic expectations, frustrations, and dissatisfaction with the pace of your progress.
Just imagine how different your experience might be if you decide to focus on what you can work with instead of listing all your imperfections or hardships. Ultimately, your goal is to have a different lifestyle. And that’s a never-ending process of becoming, getting better, and self-actualizing.
Find the simple pleasures in the mundane reality of working on your goals, i.e.:
- satisfaction that comes from simply showing up,
- a boost of energy after a morning workout,
- a profound sense of calm during your mindfulness meditation practice,
- the luxury of waking up before your alarm and feeling well-rested.
That’s what it’s all about – making small steps that, over time, bring significant results.
Get Professional Help
Still, not all challenges are meant to be faced alone. If you’re struggling with setting your goals, finding motivation, or staying committed to getting better mentally, reach out for professional help.
Being assisted by an experienced psychotherapist can make all the difference, helping you:
- build self-confidence,
- strengthen your psychological resilience,
- overcome unhelpful beliefs and replace them with healthy alternatives,
- unleash your potential and live your life to the fullest.
Making a positive change in your life is hard. There’s no question about it. However, with a good plan and some valuable tools under your belt, you are better equipped to face this challenge.
Invest in your future self by getting in touch with us and setting up your first therapy session. Start by clicking here.