What big goals do you have at the moment? Perhaps you’re trying to lose weight, get fit, write a book, redecorate the house, or start your own business. Maybe you’re tackling several different goals all at once.
Often, it’s easy to feel motivated and inspired at the start of a new goal: we start new diets on Mondays, or begin new years’ resolutions on January 1st, and things go smoothly for a few days. Sadly, that initial enthusiasm soon wanes – and it’s easy to end up abandoning our goals.
Here’s how you can stay on track with your goals, whatever they are:
Step #1: Focus on Fewer Goals
Any goal takes effort – and tackling more than two or three at a time is beyond most of us. Rather than trying to change everything overnight, focus on just a couple of key goals. Ideally, you’ll want to choose goals that complement one another.
For instance, if you’re aiming to lose weight, you might have a secondary goal of getting fitter – the two goals work in tandem. If you’re trying to write a book, though, it’s probably not a good idea to also work on starting up a small business – you may not have enough hours in the day (or enough creative energy) for both goals.
Step #2: Plan Ahead
One reason why goals get derailed is because we fail to plan ahead. It’s all too easy to use a string of social events as an excuse to give up on the diet, or to abandon a fledgling side business during a busy spell in the day job.
Take a look at your diary over the next month or so. Do you have anything coming up that’s likely to cause problems for one of your goals? If you know you’re going to be away for a long weekend, for instance, you might plan to do some work on your small business on weekday evenings instead. If your friend’s going to throw a big birthday party, you may want to be extra-careful with your diet in the days immediately before and after.
Step #3: Set Milestones
Your goal might seem a very long way off right now. If you’re aiming to lose 100lbs, or get a novel published, or have a full-time small business, you might be looking at months or years of work. At times, it’ll feel as though your progress is slow.
Instead of focusing solely on the end goal, give yourself some milestones along the way. Celebrate every 10lbs that you lose, or each finished section of your novel. Give yourself a deadline to aim for with each milestone – and make it ambitious, but not unrealistic.
Step #4: Build Good Habits
Much of what we do in life is habitual. You probably don’t need to constantly remind yourself to shower or brush your teeth or eat lunch – it’s just a normal part of your day. When it comes to your goals, though, it might be a constant struggle to find the time or energy for them.
By developing good habits that support your goals, you’ll find it much easier to make progress. For instance, if you struggle to find the time to exercise, try looking for a way to fit in into your day – perhaps by walking or cycling to work, or by doing some stretches during commercial breaks in the evenings.
Step #5: Track Your Progress
When you’ve been working on the same goal for a long time, it might feel as if you’re not making much progress. If you look back to where you were a few months ago, though, you’ll often find that you’ve come a surprisingly long way.
Tracking your progress could mean keeping a journal, writing a list of key achievements each month, or recording particular statistics (like your weight or body fat percentage). It doesn’t matter exactly how you go about tracking things – what matters is that you have some way to easily see what you’ve already achieved.
Step #6: Get Support and Encouragement
It’s much easier to stay motivated when you have positive, supportive, people around you. Hopefully, you’ve got friends, family, or colleagues who can encourage you towards your goal – but it might be the case that these people don’t understand why this is so important to you.
Look for a group that shares your goal: perhaps a writers’ circle, a meet-up of self-employed professionals in your field, a dieting club, or a local gym. This should provide you with the opportunity to meet like-minded people who can share your enthusiasm, and offer you advice, support, and encouragement.
What goals are you working on right now? Are you staying on track toward them, or are you struggling? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments…