As someone who loves the holidays, it has been a journey to learn how to stay motivated towards the end of the year when all I want to do is go to festivals, decorate, craft, and all the fall and Christmas things. I know I am not alone in this … we are counting down days until holiday breaks, taking vacation days, and looking to the new year for the chance at a fresh start, but there is SO MUCH impact that can be created with the time you have left. I have developed a process that I teach my athletes so they finish the year strong with just a few simple steps and today, I am sharing those with you. These steps can be done anytime, whether you are just getting started with a season, halfway through the year, or approaching the final weeks before a goal deadline.
This is the 1st post in a 3-part blog series where I cover the 3 primary areas where finishing strong matters most for the athletes and parents I support. By reading this post, you will gain insights into ways that you can get out of your own way and stop sabotaging your success as well as tips for pushing through so you can finish strong and achieve the success you desire no matter where you are.
How to finish the year strong (in other words, how to stay committed to your goals)
1. Review Your Goals.
The first step is to dust off those goals that you set at the beginning of the year and perform a mid-year check-in. Review each goal and confirm that each one is still important to you. Life involves many turns and pivots so sometimes a goal we felt excited about in the past, no longer holds the luster it once did because of a new passion or life change. Allow yourself full permission to release it without judgment. One caution here… if you feel like throwing out a goal simply because you are afraid you will not reach it or are not as far along as you want to be, stop right now. All you need are a few mindset shifts and a clear process for pushing forward so stay with me as we work through this together below. If you discarded your goals after the New Year didn’t go your way or goal-setting is not a part of your annual traditions then no worries, you can start fresh today. [Not sure where to start? Check out my blog here where I walk you through the process of goal-setting].
2. Track Your Progress.
Take an honest look at where you are (again, without judgment) and compare it to where you said (or felt) you would be. Goals are not expectations which means there is no judgment involved, regardless of where you are. So, if you need to make a shift, understand that you are not failing, only gathering data and pivoting for the sake of your future, better self. For each goal on your list, note where you are today and be as specific as possible. If you are familiar with S.M.A.R.T. goals (which is what I teach), this is where we want to pay attention to the M which stands for measurable. For example, if you set a goal at the beginning of the year to run a mile in 7 minutes then note that today you run an average mile of 8 minutes and 12 seconds. Being detailed allows you to break your goal down so you know exactly what to do daily to move forward.
3. Celebrate your wins.
Before we cast our vision for the rest of the year, I want you to pause and write down all of the things you have accomplished so far. The default for most of us is to focus on the distance we have to go or ways we fell short of what we wanted to do. Today, I am asking you to appreciate all of your hard work and be proud of yourself. Notice what you have accomplished (big and small) and celebrate it. Allow the ‘win’ to integrate into your confidence and belief in yourself. This is a daily practice for my athletes to develop a growth mindset that says, “I am amazing today, but work hard because I know I am capable of even more greatness tomorrow,” instead of the one sports culture teaches that says, “I have to grind and work until I am the best and even then will still not be good enough”. With this growth approach, you will build confidence and passion for yourself which will allow you to achieve long term success instead of burning out.
4. Uncover what is working.
It is time to mine for clues that will show you the secret to ACTUALLY achieving your goals. Look at your celebrations and the things that have been going well and look for trends in your habits, actions, or mindsets. Too often we skip this part of the process because of the ideas we have about what we SHOULD be doing and waste time. Ask yourself, “What is working? How did I achieve that win?” When you discover patterns that have created positive results for you, the path forward becomes so clear. Once you know what is ACTUALLY producing results all you need to do is continue doing the things that are working.
5. Let go of what is not working.
For the things that are not working, give yourself permission to stop doing those things and let them go. If you have a pattern of trying to achieve a goal, overcome a block, or get into a new habit that has not lasted, figure out the common approach you use that is not working. For example, if you have tried to get into the habit of working out daily but gave up the first week because you were too sore from spending the first few days in the gym for 2 hours then you want to note that starting out with too much is not going to set you up for success. What if you noticed that in the last step you were able to celebrate that you stuck with the goal of working out for 1 month and the secret was following a daily 20-minute (or less) workout program on your favorite app (BTW Streetparking is a great programming option if you are looking for one). You just uncovered a solution to achieving your goals that has nothing to do with your motivation level or lack of skill. Now you can fully release the belief that “This time will be like all the others and will not work,” and instead trust that you have everything you need to be successful.
6. Make a game plan.
Now it is time to make an action plan considering where you are and where you ultimately want to be at the end of the year. We can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time if we have clarity and a great plan. Look at what needs to happen to get you to your goal and then break it into milestones. For example, If your goal is to workout 5 days per week consistently by the end of the year, there are 2 months left, and right now you are getting in the gym 1 day per week then you have 4 days to add. That may seem unrealistic now but that is only 2 more days per month, or 1 more day for the next 2 weeks. Yes! You can do that! Sometimes simply looking at the distance to go can feel like too much but when we break it down it feels so manageable. The best part about this process is that it allows you to trust that if you just take daily action on the pieces, you are on track to achieve your big goal which means you can release the pressure and wasted mental energy from the “I shoulds” and enjoy the progress you are making.
7. Finally, the only thing left to do is get to work!
This is perhaps the most difficult part but where the real magic happens. If you are still reading this, or better yet have already begun applying this process then things will feel so much easier this time around. I know because I have seen the success this process produces in myself and the athletes I coach. You will feel more confident because you have celebrated your progress. Your energy level will be greater because you are clear on what you need to do and why it is important to you. Your plan includes proven methods because you have seen that they work for you and has been cleared of anything from the past that has not been serving you. The steps have been outlined and mental clutter is hushed so you are more motivated and excited to take action. If you need a little mantra to help you stay accountable, consider this… “To know and not do is to not know.” This means that just because you have a plan and know the way forward does not actually get you to where you want to be. Decide that you are worth investing in and take action now! You’ve got this!
There you have it. If you want more support with this process, check out my Mental Organizer for Student Athletes by clicking here. In this training series I walk you through the process of becoming mentally organized by setting goals, creating habits, managing your time, making a plan, and shifting into a success mindset. Use coupon code FINISHSTRONG for 10% off.
The content is great but real change happens in the application. The most important thing I do for my clients is to keep them accountable for applying their mental game skills every practice and game. I offer them support so they never have to stay stuck.
I am here to support you. A performance check coaching session is a great way for me to learn more about where you are and your goals and to identify any gaps. I am only able to work with a limited number of clients at a time to be most effective so If you are interested in learning more, make sure you reserve your spot today. Sign up now by clicking here.