You can think "It's July. I can't believe 2013 is half over! What happened to all my goals?"
Or, you can think "It's July. That means I still have half a year to demolish all my goals!"
Can we agree that the second choice is the way to go? Then let's also agree we won't spend a single moment on "coulda woulda shoulda."
Instead, let's channel that mental energy into getting 2013 back on track.
How to begin?
If you're a faithful reader of Dumb Little Man you've dodged all the goal-setting pitfalls. But it's still not enough to get you up off the couch. (Or else you wouldn’t need this article!)
In fact, it's a good bet that you know exactly what to do.
You just need the motivation to do it!
That's why we've put together this list of eight inspiring tips, tricks and hacks for giving you the mental edge to follow through on your goals.
We're confident they'll put a rocket under your butt and get your 2013 goals back on track.
So let's get started:
1) STICK YOUR FINGER IN THE WOUND
Remember the moment you decide you needed to change? You searched for a shirt that hangs past your waist-band… because you couldn’t button your pants. Or you backed out of a group dinner at the hot new restaurant in town… because your credit cards were maxed out.
Remember the pain you felt, and the humiliation?
And remember how you swore -- SWORE! -- that 2013 was going to be different?
You probably want to delete these thoughts from your memory banks. But don't hit that key.
Instead, draw on this reservoir of hurt to bolster your resolve when want to skip a workout, or eat a donut, or buy a set of speakers that you can't afford.
2) ADMIT DEFEAT
If your 2013 goals included “Lose some weight, Learn Chinese, Launch the next Facebook, Build your dream home from a D.I.Y. kit, Climb Mount Everest…” well, no wonder you feel like a failure.
Goals are supposed to enhance our lives, not make us miserable!
So give up.
And start over.
Pick two or three goals that you can realistically achieve by year's end. Maybe a personal habit you'd like to change immediately. And two longer-term goals you can steadily chip away in the weeks and months ahead.
Ignore the critics -- internal or external -- telling you that two or three goals is not enough: Bringing laser-like focus to a tidy list will guarantee your success.
3) ADD SOME SWAGGER
Some experts stress stating goals in positive -- rather than negative -- terms, while others suggest phrasing goals as if they've already happened.
A better tactic?
Goals so exhilarating and juicy that the rest of the world fades into the background when you think of them. (And you should think of them often. See No. 5.)
So, "Make more money" or "Lose weight" just won't work.
More like it:
"I'm tired of being broke. I'm launching a zero-overhead restaurant consulting business during my night and weekend hours. In one year's time I'll make enough money to quit my day job. And I'll never work for anyone else as long as I live. Who's the boss now? ME!"
"I'm tired of being fat. That's not who I am. I can lose 25 pounds just by cutting out the junk food and fast food, and walking more. Come New Year's Eve, I'll rock that Size 6 little black dress that's been collecting dust in the back of my closet. Have your smart phones ready, world, because I'm definitely posing for pictures."
4) TAKE MONEY OUT OF THE EQUATION
For each goal, come up with a list of 100 fun, easy and free (or almost free) steps you'll need to take to reach that goal.
If you are trying to lose weight, your list might include: "Use a side entrance to avoid the candy jar near the front door" and "Walk the dog while I listen to my favorite radio podcasts" and "Use Pinterest to find healthy breakfast and lunch recipes that I'll enjoy eating."
The mogul-in-the-making might write: "Get a library card and read one business or marketing book a week" and "Join my neighborhood business association and start networking" and "Find a struggling restaurant and offer them consulting -- in exchange for a video-taped testimonial."
Begin to strategize how you can absorb these small steps into your everyday life.
5) GIVE YOURSELF A PEP TALK
Use the device of your choice -- smartphone, wristwatch, kitchen timer, whatever -- to chime every hour on the hour.
When it does, silently reinforce your goal with a mantra that will bring a sly little smile to your face: "I'm an unstoppable freight train. I'm losing 25 lbs. by New Year's Eve. Consider yourself warned: Get in my way, you will get hurt."
Or "Business books will be written about my dogged persistence. Harvard will dedicate a management course to my meteoric climb. One day, Gordon Ramsay will want my restaurant consulting advice. I'll try to fit him in."
Each day, give those mantras a fun, creative twist.
And If anyone asks about the hourly chime, you can honestly say: "It's a technique I'm using to make sure the day doesn't get away from me."
6) PROGRAM YOUR DREAMS
Instead of counting sheep before you go to sleep each night, conjure up relaxing images of your success.
Maybe it's you, meditating, looking sleek and slim in the latest yoga wear (Size 6!).
Maybe it's you, unwinding with a nightcap (delivered by your butler) from your study overlooking Manhattan's Central Park.
Drift off to sleep with these empowering images in your head.
When you wake up in the morning, spend five minutes in bed visualizing your successful self blasting through the day ahead. That's you in the Size 6 J.Crew skirt suit turning heads on the subway, a yummy lunch tucked in your purse. That's you, wearing a hand-stitched Italian business suit telling your driver there's been a change in plans -- instead of heading straight into the office downtown, you're stopping uptown to meet a prospective new client.
Write all those delicious images down, so you can use them on days when your creativity is waning.
7) DITCH THE EXCUSES
You must spend at last 60 minutes a day working toward your goal.
What's that, you say? You don't have the time?
President Barack Obama exercises six days a week. And President George W. Bush did the same when he occupied the White House.
Are you saying you're busier than the leader of the free world?
Even if your goal has nothing to do with fitness, realize that you are lying if you say you don't have the time to dedicate 60 measly minutes a day toward your goal. So just do it!
You can break it up if it's easier. Work on your business plan for 30 minutes, twice a day. On especially busy days, work in four 15 min. intervals. Go back to your list of 100 ways to achieve your goal and identify the ones that can be done in little spurts of time.
If you're trying to lose weight, spend 30 minutes a day on meal prep and planning, and 30 minutes a day power walking.
Bottom line: Give 23 hours a day to The Man, your spouse, "World of Warcraft," your kids, your commute, Pinterest, sleep and whatever else is tugging on your time.
But you deserve 60 minutes a day to make your dreams come true.
8) SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS
Do you think you're the first person to want to lose 25 pounds, or become their own boss?
Of course not. And you certainly won't be the last.
So what if you used your journey -- your ups and especially your downs -- to encourage others?
If people at work see you dropping pounds by brown-bagging lunch and skipping the candy jar, they're likely to do the same.
And if friends and relatives see you taking small, persistent achievable steps toward financial freedom, it might embolden them to make wiser budgeting decisions.
Imagine the ripple effect if all the people that you've motivated, in turn motivated others?
There is, quite literally, no end to the number of people you could inspire by your grit and determination.
You could also inspire the masses by starting a blog. Who knows, maybe one day that could one day turn into an e-book that you sell on your site. (If you're thinking "But I'm a horrible speller" or "I don't know how to write a book" -- that's why people use spellcheck and hire ghostwriters, silly!)
You could also become an instructor, a consultant, or a motivational speaker -- or all three. You could command big money to help people learn from your mistakes, and your successes.
Moreover, by making your commitments public -- by shouting it from the rooftops -- you're far more likely to stay on task yourself. (You will not stick your hand in the M&M jar at work if you know you are being watched!)
Well, there you have it -- our most inspiring strategies for getting your 2013 goals back on track.
Which of these tips do you think will work best in your life?
If you put them to use, we want to hear all about it.
Oh, and one more thing: When you're basking in all your accomplishments come Dec. 31, 2013, raise a glass of champagne our way.
Rene Lynch is a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times and is launching a motivational blog, Easy Does It Fitness. She is on a mission to help people find simple, easy ways to embrace a healthier lifestyle. She is also addicted to Twitter and Instagram and is on both platforms @ReneLynch
Photo Credit: Holly