Do you start out each day committed to a certain good-for-you-plan, only to find by the end of the day, it’s just too hard to stick to it?
Maybe you tell yourself, “If I just had more willpower I could stick to my diet/budget/or other long term goal?
Here are five tips for strengthening your willpower so you can stay committed to your long-term personal or health goals:
- Get enough sleep. Less than eight hours of sleep each night leads us to feel hungry, irritable and less able to concentrate. This sets us up to give up on our goals long before lunchtime. Get consistent sleep every night. You cannot make up for lost sleep on weekends. Make healthy sleep habits a priority. Try going to bed at the same time, including weekends, for one week and see if it helps. It should.
- Eat regular meals. Going for long periods between meals is as bad as sleep deprivation. Eating smaller, more frequent meals give us the highest energy, best mood and ability to focus, so we can stick to our goals. Schedule snacks into your daily routine. Maybe try a protein bar mid-morning and fruit mid-afternoon. Or vice versa. You have to plan your in-between meal snacks as much as you plan your meals to avoid ending up with a bag of chips or cookies left in the kitchen at your office.
- Be happy. A positive mood will make us more likely to stick to our goals. Make sure you do one thing each day that you enjoy. Take time for yourself to be mindful of the things you are grateful for. That can be as simple as a 20-minute walk alone outside or putting on some of your favorite music.
- Stay connected. When we are connected to others and connected on a spiritual level we have more meaning and purpose in our lives. This gives us more motivation to reach our long term goals. Call a family member or friend to catch up. Yes, Facebook can count. Send some friends direct messages or “Like” some of their posts. There is no substitute for personal interaction, but if time constraints dictate, stay connected through social media.
- Make reasonable goals. Make sure your plan is realistic. Only work on one goal at a time. Don’t beat yourself up on the days where you didn’t reach your goal. Think direction, not perfection.
Laurie Little, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist at the St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center in Florence, Ky.