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How can you use little motivational steps to turn around hopelessness? First let's look at what causes us to fall into hopelessness. We have our goal but it looks so huge! Lose 50 pounds in three months, save $10,000 in one year or turn your relationship with your teenager around. They are large goals, lofty and worthwhile, but huge steps, which need a tremendous amount of commitment.

Let's look at the problem of weight loss. Spring is on its way and I intend to be able to wear the clothes I wore last year. That means I need to lose X amount of weight and couple that with a doable exercise program for me. I hate to exercise; there, I've said it. I don't have the time or the inclination to go to an aerobics class, gym, or health club. I haven't found any motivation that has made me change my mind. So, instead of following into hopelessness or despair, how can I turn that around? Here are some tips to help you take little steps towards your goal and turning hopelessness around.

Remember to make small goals that you can reasonably expect to reach. Weight loss experts recommend setting a goal of losing 1-2 pounds a week. This is healthier for your body and helps you create a timeline for losing the weight you are hoping to lose. Let's say you have three months to that long awaited cruise. That gives you 12 weeks to alter your eating habits and start an exercise program. You can start out with a simple walk around the block and cutting out the sweets in your diet. Don't be discouraged if you miss a day of walking, or you cave in and have that favorite dessert when you go out to eat. Give yourself some room to make mistakes. That's why it's more sensible to plan to lose 1-2 pounds a week, than a large goal that looks impossible to reach. Setting a goal of eight pounds in a month just looks and feels more practical and it is!

Saving money is a big goal whether you're saving for retirement or to send your children to college. Maybe you're saving for a special vacation or to celebrate a special anniversary in a big way. The important fact to remember is savings can start with the first quarter you put in a jar. You don't have to open a CD or start a savings account with a huge amount of money. Start small; put all of your change in a jar at the end of the day. By doing this, my husband and I have always had a tidy sum to spend on our annual vacation. One year, we were unable to go on vacation so we used our coins as a Christmas fund. We started small and have now learned to discipline our habits to put a certain amount of money into a savings account at the bank. This is our emergency fund, and it has come in handy a few times.

Here's a big goal. Turning around a relationship with a family member, teenager, or spouse. More than likely, this relationship has suffered for a longtime. You know that it will be an enormous task to turn it back into a positive relationship. It can look hopeless, but it doesn't have to be. Small steps that are obtainable will keep you from falling into total despair and giving up on the relationship. You can't reasonably expect to say one day "I'm going to have a new open relationship with my teenager" when you haven't been communicating with each other at all. Start with a small step, like listening to their ideas or thoughts. Listen! Think before you speak and control your emotions. My son had the annoying habit of lowering his voice the longer I talked to him, the result was, I was shouting by the end of the conversation. He would then look at me and ask, "Mom why are you yelling at me?" Bingo, he had pushed the right button and he knew it. When I learned to keep my voice even and not raise the volume, we were able to communicate in a more meaningful way. Small steps can lead to larger ones. If your teenage daughter is wearing clothes that you think are inappropriate, it's going to do you no good to constantly nag at her. Positive reinforcement can start out small changes. You can compliment her on her hair and how nice it looks that day, or if she is wearing a nicer outfit than usual, use that as an opportunity to praise and give positive reinforcement. Be sincere! A teenager or anyone else who is on the defensive can always detect false statements. I taught my kindergarten Sunday school class this: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I think that is true for many of our relationship situations.

So, don't be discouraged, just look at smaller pieces of the big picture. It will eventually come together and your goals can be reached

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