By: Stephanie Slater MA RCC CCC

2023 is coming to a close and the New Year is just around the corner. You know what that means… New Years 🎉RESOLUTIONS🎉.

This time of year can feel really motivating. Maybe you want to get in shape, go to therapy, invest in your marriage, enhance your parenting skills, improve your finances….maybe all those and more. Well, let’s talk about motivation…..and what to do when it inevitably fades.

Motivation is a critical factor in achieving our goals, especially when it comes to our mental health. As the new year approaches, many of us are setting resolutions to establish new routines and habits that will improve our mood and well-being. However, it’s important to acknowledge that motivation is temporary and can be challenging to maintain in the long run. In this blog post, we’ll explore the scientific evidence behind motivation and discuss other factors that can help us achieve our goals, including seeing a therapist. We’ll also provide 5 practices to stay motivated and emphasize the importance of self-compassion in achieving long-term change. Because when it comes to mental health, relationships, finances, and health we ultimately want lasting and long term change and that takes time and consistency.

Motivation is a psychological state that drives us towards a particular goal or behavior. However, research has shown that motivation is temporary and can fluctuate based on various factors such as mood, energy levels, and external circumstances (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Therefore, relying solely on motivation to achieve our goals may not be sustainable in the long run. Instead, we need to consider other factors that can help us maintain our behavior over time.

One such factor is self-efficacy, which refers to our belief in our ability to accomplish a particular task or goal. In other words, do you believe you can do it? Studies have shown that self-efficacy is a strong predictor of behavior change and can help individuals maintain their behavior over time (Luszczynska, Schwarzer, & Boehmer, 2011). If you don’t have much self efficacy, you can work with a therapist to find the root of why this is, sometimes people with low self efficacy have had challenging and disempowering childhoods or pasts. We can work to heal those old wounds in therapy and help improve your belief in yourself and your abilities! It is also important to set realistic goals and develop a plan to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to see a therapist regularly, consider scheduling your appointments in advance and setting reminders to ensure you don’t miss any sessions.

Another factor that can help us achieve our goals is social support. Research has shown that having a strong support system can increase our motivation and help us maintain our behavior over time (Sheldon & Elliot, 2014). Therefore, consider sharing your goals with friends or family members who can provide encouragement and accountability. Additionally, consider joining a support group or seeking professional help from a therapist who can provide guidance and support. If you’re interested Slater & Associates is running a 2024 Goals and Accountability Online Group. If you would like to learn more about the group and if you’re serious about your 2024 goals, send us an email at admin@slaterandassociates.ca

In addition to these factors, it’s important to develop healthy habits that can support our mental health. But first a word about healthy habits. If any of the healthy habit suggestions below feel overwhelming….know that small steps in the right direction should be celebrated and are just as important towards getting to your goal as big steps. Please be patient with yourself and please see “Self Compassion” below which is a vital ingredient in maintaining motivation and behaviour change in the long term.

Exercise, for example, has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (Craft & Perna, 2004). Therefore, consider incorporating physical activity into your routine, even if it’s just a short walk or yoga session. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being (Burke, Williams, & Davis, 2018).

Finally, it’s important to emphasize the role of self-compassion in achieving our goals. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, especially when we experience setbacks or failures. Research has shown that self-compassion can increase motivation and help us maintain our behavior over time (Neff & Germer, 2013). Therefore, be kind to yourself and acknowledge that setbacks are a natural part of the change process. Say that with me:

Setbacks and failures are a normal part of the change process!

Instead of giving up, use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and adjust your approach moving forward.

In conclusion, motivation is a critical factor in achieving our goals, but it’s important to consider other factors that can help us maintain our behavior over time. Self-efficacy, social support, healthy habits, and self-compassion are all important factors to consider when establishing new routines and habits. Remember to set realistic goals, develop a plan, and seek support when needed. With these strategies in mind, you can achieve your 2024 goals and improve your overall well-being.

If you would like to join our 2024 Goals and Accountability Group please email admin@slaterandassociates.ca to learn more. We want you to achieve your 2024 goals!

If you’re interested in started therapy, our practice provides mental health therapy in person in South Surrey British Columbia, in a beautiful modern office off Croydon Dr. We also provide online therapy to residents of British Columbia for issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and perinatal mental health. Evening and weekend appointments available. We provide complimentary 20 minute consultation calls so you can find the right counsellor for you. Take a look at our team here and book your consult. We look forward to hearing from you!

References:

Burke, A., Williams, J. M. G., & Davis, M. C. (2018). Mindfulness and emotion regulation: The development and initial validation of the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (CAMS-R). Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 40(2), 328-339.

Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The benefits of exercise for the clinically depressed. The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(3), 104-111.

Luszczynska, A., Schwarzer, R., & Boehmer, S. (2011). Self-efficacy as a moderator of the effects of an intervention to promote physical activity in Polish older adults. Psychology & Health, 26(6), 779-789.

Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28-44.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publications.

Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (2014). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(1), 151-176.