We are just over half way through 2015 already and you may be wondering, “where has the time gone?” Often at this time of year we can be hard on ourselves for not achieving everything that we had planned to, rushing to set new goals and pressuring ourselves to meet even higher targets for the second half of the year to make up for it. But we’re focusing on the wrong thing. August has just arrived, and it’s time to reflect. It’s time to stop focusing on what we haven’t achieved, and look back on what we have achieved and be really proud of that.
Different people motivate themselves in different ways, but a key element to staying motivated is having a positive mindset. It can be common to look back and judge ourselves for not achieving enough – ‘I could’ve put in more effort at work, I could’ve spent more time with my family, I could’ve gone to the gym more, I could’ve been a better friend, I could’ve tried harder with my study’. So many ‘I could haves’. But this mentality is only going to trip us up in the weeks, months and years ahead, because self-criticism doesn’t motivate. Successful people don’t focus on how far they still have to go, they focus on how far they have already come. They don’t think about how hard the challenge ahead is, but how much they have learnt and grown from their experiences already.
We have a tendency to underestimate ourselves. Being halfway through the year it is a good reminder to stop, acknowledge yourself and reflect on the positive changes that you have already made that have helped you achieve a great deal – possibly without even realising it. Take a moment to ask yourself each of the following questions, and think of just how far you have come this year already.
- What areas of your life have you made changes in, and what progress can you see already, whether it is large or small?
- How have you been a better partner/worker/friend? Is there someone or something in particular that you have really supported or worked hard for?
- How have you tried to stay motivated this year? How can you build on this?
- What achievement are you most proud of so far this year?
- How have you helped to make a difference?
- Who have you met in the past six months that you have built a relationship with that is now a special part of your life?
- What decisions have you made that have helped to improve your life and where you are as a person today? Have you cut something or someone from your life that was holding you back? Have you created some healthier habits?
- What were some of the most fun or rewarding times that you have had this year?
Without dwelling on the past, it can also be valuable to reflect on times where we battled our way through challenges, times of stress or dealt with an unexpected turn of events. Looking back on these times can be uplifting when we realise that we made it through just fine and often they teach us valuable skills or lessons that we take forward with us. Ask yourself:
- What challenges have I overcome this year?
- What skills or lessons have I learnt as a result of this?
- Have there been any people in particular that have helped me through these challenges, or taught me something along the way?
- What has been the most important thing that I have learnt about myself or others by overcoming these challenges?
By asking yourself these questions it allows you to focus on all the success that you have already had, rather than what still needs to change. By acknowledging your strength, perseverance and growth you build self-respect and trust in your own abilities. These are vital components that will help make healthier decisions (emotional and physical), for you and your loved ones.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Comparing your achievements to those of your friends, family, colleagues, or others around you doesn’t make what you achieved any more or less important. Be careful not to compare your talents to others and run the risk of losing your contentment with who you are and what you are good at. Comparison can discourage us from moving forward and interfere with our ability to recognise personal achievement. Everyone is living with a different set of circumstances and a different focus which impacts on what they achieve.
So reflect on everything that you have achieved already, take a moment to be proud of that, and now focus on how you would like the rest of the year to be. With a positive mindset you can focus on what you want to change, what you want to improve, and how you want to build on the successes from the past seven months – taking this forward to help you reach all of your goals for the rest of 2015.