Changing your perspective.

We are nearing the end of the year. It’s time to reflect on our 2019 goals and plan resolutions for the future. If we look back, we might be disappointed that a few goals for 2019 are just out of reach. The trick, however, is to adjust our perspective. Instead of focusing on the end goal, ask yourself about the journey. Did you surmount any obstacles along the way? Did you learn lessons through failure? Questions like these will help you garner perseverance to meet the goal in the future (and celebrate the process along the way).

Grit = perseverance + passion

People often think that perseverance is synonymous with grit. But that’s only half the story. Researchers have found that grit only works effectively when combined with perseverance and passion. Passion allows you to reframe hard work as a pleasant endeavor. In fact, it releases dopamine in the reward system of our brains. We push through setbacks better when there’s passion and purpose behind the hard work (especially if we see the hard work as rewarding). Furthermore, reflecting on failures in a constructive, compassionate way, leads to more grit, according to psychological research. And not giving up can lead to a more positive outlook and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

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How do we increase perseverance?

Imagine that early in 2019 your doctor told you that you needed to exercise more, so you started a walking program (Walk with a Doc!) and did pretty well for awhile but then tapered off. You looked around at all these high energy people on the track, smiling and chipper, and you thought: “What’s wrong with me?” You might have also wanted to douse them in Gatorade and run off sulking (if you didn’t actually do it, that showed a lot of self-control and determination!). So how do you change your mindset so that walking feels easier for you and the goal doesn’t feel so far away?

Purpose helps us persevere.

When you start to feel yourself wanting to give up, take a moment to reflect. Remind yourself why your goal is important. In this case, you’re walking because it is going to make you feel better and improve your health. Then examine your setbacks–what lesson did you learn? Maybe a setback was comparing yourself to others and you learned that you needed to focus on your own journey. That’s an important step toward your goal! Maybe you decided to invite a friend to walk with you for support. Connecting with others can help us reach our goals. Finally, self-compassion goes a long way. Talk to yourself the way a supportive friend would talk to you–encouraging and with kindness. Be your own cheerleader (a coach or therapist can help you with this). And if you don’t get the goal this year, reset it realistically for 2020. As my favorite football coach, Matt Rhule (Sic ’em Bears) says: “Trust the process.” Step by step. Setback by setback. You will persevere!