In this week’s episode, Carrie shares a six-step guide for finding motivation and achieving your goals in 2024. From understanding your why to making small changes, tune in for practical tips to overcome challenges and finish strong.

  • Why knowing your “why” is crucial.
  • How to learn from past experiences to avoid mistakes.
  • The importance of researching the “how” for effective planning.
  • Strategies for handling challenging days in your journey.
  • Why seeking accountability can boost your progress.
  • Tips for choosing a good start date and successfully executing your plan.

More to listen to!

Transcript

 Hi, welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD episode 112. I know it’s the end of January right now, and some of you may have the gung-ho in the middle of working on goals that you started at the beginning of the year, and some of you may have given up on them completely. And some of you may be somewhere in between.

I want to do this. I want to finish strong, but I’m struggling right now. So I wanted to talk with you today about finding motivation to finish. We can have good plans, good intentions, but if we don’t know how to execute and get our plan from start to finish, then we’re going to have a challenge. I think many times we get excited. Yes, it’s a new year, fresh start. I want to make changes to my physical health. I want to eat better. I want to actually stick to my budget this month instead of just spending erratically. I want to develop relationships. Maybe I want to put more effort and energy into developing friendships, mom, friends, dating relationships, whatever your story is, maybe you have a career goal you’re trying to hit.

I want to reach a certain number of sales or I’m looking to get promoted. Whatever it is, I hope that this episode will help you to find the motivation to do the things that God has laid on your heart for this year. I’m going to give you a step process, and I’m going to give you examples from my own life of something that I’m working through in 2024.

I’ve gone through that process, it’s really helped me solidify how to share it with you who are looking for motivation. You may have hard things that you need to do in therapy, and that may be another thing that you’re trying to motivate yourself towards.

Number one is find and clarify your why.

This is so huge. Why do you want to make this change? I saw a picture of myself in December. It was a picture of my family in front of a Christmas tree at church, and I looked at how I looked physically and realized I am carrying more weight than I want to be carrying at this point. I’ve gone through various weight fluctuations over the years.

I’ve lost it. I’ve probably lost the same 15 pounds and found it several times at this point. Another thing happened in December where something popped up on my Facebook memories four years ago. I had been working out regularly at the Y and it was a picture of me with that class and the teacher had, it was her last day.

So we had all gotten together and taken a picture to kind of wish her well in her new adventure. I contrasted those two pictures in my mind and I was like, “Okay, here’s me now. I’m not happy with not just the way that I look, but I’m not happy with the way that I feel.”

I have this other picture of me where I was feeling amazing. I was moving my body on a regular basis. My mental health was great because of that movement of my body. I was getting all of those endorphin benefit. Everything that was going on. I was sleeping. There’s so many positive benefits to exercise and eating right, so I decided I’ve got to do something different and actually got sucked into a Facebook ad because apparently the little algorithm knows me too well and bought a fitness program and diet and exercise program that involves carb cycling.

One thing I decided at the beginning of this experience was that I was not going to go hungry. That was a huge thing that I had decided like, “Hey, I’m going to figure out a way to not to be hungry.” So that was supposed to be one of the benefits of this program. I had done a lot of calorie tracking and different things before and just something felt lacking. This is a macro tracking program. It’s a little bit different.

All of that is inconsequential right now because we’re still talking about your why. Why do you want to make this change? For me, I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be happier about how I look. I wanted to be more toned. I wanted to have more energy to spend time with my daughter.

I found a cave tour at Mammoth Cave. It was kind of a more rugged cave tour, not just the ones that you do the typical walkthrough of, but I thought, “Man, I would really love to go on that rugged cave tour for some self care and feeling a sense of accomplishment for myself.” I’ve loved caves for a long time. Something I probably haven’t shared on the podcast before, but caves have been always just something that have been really interesting to me. I’ve done several different cave tours, even done several of the ones at Mammoth Cave. I decided I’d really like to go on this, but if I try to go in my current physical fitness level. I am not going to feel good about it. I am going to be absolutely hurting and my back is probably going to be wishing that I really didn’t do that. I knew that I had to strengthen up my abs more. That’s one of my goals that I’m working towards is being able to do that CAVE program. There’s a bit of a multifaceted “why” that I have.

Now, your why may be completely different. A lot of times our whys, though, have to do with our relationship to self and others. If you say, I want to have a better relationship with God, That’s a good piece, but why? Try to dig down a little bit deeper. “Okay, because I know that when I’m more spiritually connected, I am more present in my family life. My priorities are in the right place because I’m putting God first and then these other things are following, just like scripture tells us.” Wen you can really dig down and find your why, and find the things that have gotten in the way in the past, I can put that as number two. I just created an extra step because we’re ad libbing this right now, which is welcome to podcasting.

Find out what has failed in the past and your learning from your past mistakes. One thing that I’ve learned from past health journeys is that the number on the scale really screws me up. I can’t be focused on that. If I’m focused on that and it doesn’t fluctuate the way that I want it to, I end up getting discouraged. If it fluctuates to a certain level, then I’m like, “Hey, I can eat more.” Sometimes I get derailed on the diet aspect of things. I knew that that’s an issue for me. I also have gotten squirrely about numbers in terms of counting calories in the past. I don’t know if that’s a little bit of an anxiety thing where I think it has different manifestations, but it can be things like, “Oh, I only have like 300 calories left today. What if I eat these 300 calories and then I’m still hungry? Do I want that 300 calories? It just can really mess with me. Did I track all of the calories correctly? That can be really derailing for you if you’re dealing with anxiety and trying to make positive health changes. So I knew that that was kind of a problem that I had run into in the past.

What I talked about a little bit earlier was I had a lot of excuses for not doing this earlier. A lot of times for me, it was easy to default and my daughter was the excuse. Well, I don’t have time because I’m a working mom and I’m busy and I’m either working or I’m taking care of my daughter. I’m taking care of my household, so therefore I don’t have the time and the energy that I need to work out. I also know for me that there are certain things I’m just not going to do. I am not going to get up at 5 am. and work out, so not set yourself up for failure if you’re not a morning person. You’ve tried in the past to get up at 5 a.m and work out and it has not gone well for you.

Why are you going to continue to try to do that which you know completely crashed and burned in the past? I see people who do that all the time. You have to find what’s going to be most successful for you. For me, sometimes that meant I have to work out after my daughter goes to bed. It may look like I have to work out at work before I pick her up from daycare or on a lunch break. You have to find what’s going to work for you. Sometimes finding what works for you is learning from the past experience and past mistakes that you’ve made. Learning from the past experiences that you’ve had.

Point number three, research the how. With this new program that I’ve gotten involved in, it’s tracking macros very different from tracking calories, and that has been a huge learning curve for me. I spent a chunk of time towards the end of December, instead of saying, “Hey, I’m gonna start this diet tomorrow, and I’m gonna be like, completely on it.”

I really looked at and researched what types of foods have less carbs. What has more protein? How am I going to get the amount of protein that I need in a day? What are some recipes that I can feed my family? Because I’m not trying to cook three different meals for three different people. I know that that’s not going to work very well. Really researching different recipe websites. What can I prep ahead of time to be able to make my life easier beecause I am a busy mom, I do have responsibilities at home and with my own business. Thinking through my meal planning process and figuring out the different types of food that I can eat to get enough protein or the right amount of carbs depending on the day because it’s cycling between low, medium, and high.

Researching of the how is important. There’s a saying that says “if we don’t have a plan, we are essentially planning to fail.” Having a plan is super important, so before you take any steps or take any changes, Let’s look at this from the mental health standpoint, when I’m encouraging clients to practice skills outside of session, whether that’s deep breathing for anxiety, whether that’s mindfulness for OCD, just learning to notice those thoughts, learning to notice their just thoughts, learning to notice that you can let them go. You don’t have to hold on to them. When they have therapy, they have set appointments to do therapy, but when they’re at home, they don’t necessarily have a specific time of the day where they do that. We talk through that. Would it be best for you to practice this in the morning when you first get up or after you get ready? Would it be best for you to practice this for five, 10 minutes after you eat lunch?

When we want to start a new habit or have a new behavior, it helps us to connect it with something that we’re already doing. You can learn that from the book by James Clear called Atomic Habits. It’s an excellent book. It talks about developing positive habits in your life and removing negative habits, which we all struggle with. I want to go back and read that book some more and really work on implementing some of the things in my life to review some of our points here.

We talked about finding and clarifying your why we talked about learning from past experience of what didn’t work, researching the how and now we’re going to talk about number four, which is plan for challenging days.

Look, I don’t care what you’re trying to do or what new thing you’re trying to implement or what you’re trying to finish. You’re going to have hard days. Make a decision upfront what those days are going to look like. How am I going to handle the sugar craving? How am I going to handle that day that I’m exhausted and don’t want to work out? How am I going to handle the week that I get sick and I’m not able to follow through with the diet exercise plan? This may look like a lot of different things for you. It may look like you writing down your why and saying, “Hey, here’s why I’m making these changes for me.” It’s going back to when I want to eat something that maybe wouldn’t be the healthiest for me. Going back to that picture of this is where you are and you have a picture of where you are and you have a picture of where you want to be. Let’s move towards the picture of where you want to be. Instead of continuing to stay in the picture of where you are, it may be certain affirmations that you write down to yourself, like God is bigger than any challenge that I’m going to face today. That’s something that I tell myself when I feel stuck, when I feel like I can’t do something.

All the strength and the power that you need, you can access through the Holy Spirit, through prayer, and that spiritual connection to God is super important. If this is something that God has called you to do, then he is going to equip you and enable you to be able to do it. I have to speak that to myself on a regular basis. Keep that in mind. Plan for your challenging days. Maybe that means, if you’re trying to change your diet, that you have some quick, healthy foods in the refrigerator. Maybe it means that you have a list written down of “If you don’t have this food, I can eat this food.” If you eat out a lot, what are some healthy options as you eating out.

When you’re talking about motivation for mental health changes, knowing that you can make positive changes and it’s not always going to look like a straight diagonal line. That’s true of any positive change. I tell my clients all the time, you’re going to have your ups and downs as you’re making progress, so don’t be discouraged when you take a step back. Just know you have made this much progress so far because you take one step back. That doesn’t negate the progress that you have already made. I’ve got to keep going and go to the next thing. Go to the next piece and pick up. Today you totally blew it. That doesn’t mean that has to become a habit. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to square one. You can say, “You know what? I can start again later today. I can start again tomorrow. “

Number five, seek accountability.

I have told everybody, including you, the podcast audience of health changes that I’m trying to make in my life. Actually, I broke it to the podcast audience on our email list where I wrote an email about some changes that I was making and asking some of you about changes and goals that you’re doing in the new year. I’ve told my in laws, I’ve told my friends, I’ve told loved ones because I want that accountability. I want people to ask me, how is this going in your life? I know you’re trying to eat more protein and less carbs. What does that look like? How are you doing with that? I have another friend who’s also making some health changes, and she’s telling me about movement that she’s doing. I can share the movement that I’m getting in. I wanted people to know because it really helps me stay on track. If I don’t let other people in my life know the changes that I’m trying to make, then I can just kind of get away a little bit more with not making them and not feeling bad about not making those changes.

Accountability can be really huge and really beneficial to us. That may look like different things for different people. You may want to get in a support group and it could be something mental health related, could be something physical health related where you’re saying, “Hey, I want to make these positive changes in my life.” It could be a Bible study or a church group where you say, Hey, I want to become the person who God has called me to be. I know that I want to be reading my Bible. Our church is going through one of those read the Bible in a year plans. That’s another thing we’re doing in 2024 and it’s really great. Having that accountability where you can say like, “Hey, how was your reading going? What did you pick up on today? or how did you connect with God as you read his word today?” That accountability is very important for us being able to reach our goals. We can’t get there alone. A lot of times we try and we think we can, but you weren’t made to do this alone, regardless of what it is that you’re dealing with.

Number six, pick a good start date. There just are some times that are not a good time to make the change that you’re trying to make. I had situations where I was going through back pain and that’s part of the reason I got off track. I’m not going to say that that’s 100 percent the reason, but there definitely have been some physical limitations and some rehab that I’ve had to do at various points over the last few years. For me to say, I’m going to go on a complete physical journey transformation and walk five miles that just wasn’t realistic and it wouldn’t have been helpful for me because I had to start where I was at. Starting small is good and we’ll talk about that in the last step, but when they talk with people about quitting smoking, they always say, have a quit date, put it on your calendar, make that determination, have it as a visual so that you know after today you are not doing cigarettes anymore. That does something to our brain, really trains us. You had all this preparation beforehand.,Finding your why, figuring the how, planning for the challenging days, getting your accountability on board so that when you pick your start date, it’s a good time to start. You probably don’t want to start your diet plan on December the 24th.

If you know you’re going to be having Christmas celebrations with family over the next couple of days and eat way too many Christmas cookies like I did. That was what happened to me. Picking a good start date is important because a lot of times we do these things that We’re not trying to set ourselves up for failure, but then when you take a step back and look at it, it’s like we really planned in a way that didn’t set ourselves up for success, and then we turned around and beat ourself up for it.

We’re like, “okay, I have all these major life changes happening in my life, but I need to make this change.” It’s a huge change. We don’t make the huge change that’s unrealistic, and we say, “Well, see. I told you I couldn’t do it” It gets into all this negative thinking and all this beating ourselves up.

Going back to planning for the challenging days, we’ve got to learn to be kind to ourselves. We’ve got to learn that we’re not always going to hit the mark. That’s what grace is for. That’s what the love of God is here for us and knowing that it’s okay. That doesn’t mean we’re a horrible person. It doesn’t mean that we’re not ever going to reach our goals because we can get into all of this negative thought process. “Oh, see, I told you I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that” Wust end up getting stuck and wallowing in a place of shame.

The last step that I want to talk you through is execute. When you are executing your plan and your goals and the step by step process, sometimes you need to ease your way into it. What I’ll find in talking with clients, they’ll say, “I’m going to create a goal where I am walking 30 minutes every day this week.” I’m kind of like, “but you’re not walking at all. That might be a good goal.” Say if you were walking four or five times a week and you want to do every day, or if you said, “Hey, I’m walking every day for 15 and I’d like to walk for 20 every day.” It sounds a little bit more doable, but to go from zero to 100 percent is probably not going to happen and that’s that whole setting yourself up for failure. Maybe if you’re trying to make positive health changes, you just focus on one thing. I’m going to drink X amount of ounces of water a day, whatever is deemed healthily, because that depends on your body weight. I’m going to drink this much water per day, or I’m going to trade one soda for sparkling water, or instead of drinking this soda, I’m going to drink flavored water instead, and making that one small change. When you can stick with that one small change, going to the next small change. Maybe you decide, you know what, instead of pulling through the drive thru and getting a breakfast sandwich, I am going to get the oatmeal or I am going to get a smoothie or make something at home. Whatever you deem is reasonable that you’re going to be able to do, and then you can always change that. Maybe you decide that the oatmeal is healthier than this, but it still has too much sugar or whatever the case is, you can always shift and adjust and change your plan as needed. That’s an important thing to remember.

Let’s talk through small changes that you can make to improve your mental health. Can you reduce alcohol consumption? Can you go to bed at the same time every night? Can you develop a relaxing bedtime routine or a joyful morning routine? What does that look like to wake up and embrace the joy of the Lord? Some of us have a really hard time with that in the morning, but you can do it. Put on a worship song or get up and stretch, move your body, go outside and take a deep breath. Maybe not if it’s super cold, whatever it is that is going to help you like engage in that process. Maybe you decide that your mental health goal is going to be journaling. I’m going to take five minutes before I go to sleep and just write down some of the things that I’ve been thinking about. Maybe going to reach out and ask someone for help this week. That’s huge. That’s something that we have a hard time doing. I’m going to work on saying no more. When what’s being asked of me doesn’t suit me or isn’t healthy, I’m going to set a boundary with a co worker or friend. We have entire episodes on setting boundaries on the podcast that you can go back and look at. Whatever you feel like God has laid on your heart to do in 2024. I just want you to know that you can find the motivation and that you can finish strong. Pray about it. Clarify your why. Sit with the Lord. What failed in the past? What didn’t go well? How can I learn from that? How can I grow? How can I set myself up for positive change? How can I plan for challenging days? Who’s going to be my support, my accountability on this journey? What’s a good day to start and Lord help me execute. I think all of this integrates with our spiritual life so well because self control is a spiritual discipline and we receive that through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit does his part at work within us and we do our part in doing what we have been called and asked to do in obedience.

Thank you guys for listening to this episode. I hope that you are going to finish strong as we get to the end of January today. As you continue to make changes throughout the year, if there’s anything that we can do to help and support you in that process, please let us know.

I’m always up for episode suggestions. We do have a personal story interview coming your way in a couple weeks of a lady who went from being in a mental health hospital to really thriving and is now a health educator and advocate. She’s going to share some of her story and I know that’s going to be inspiring to you as well.

Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By the Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, Licensed Professional Counselor in Tennessee. Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of myself or By the Well Counseling.

Our original music is by Brandon Maingrum. Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.