I have a history of poor follow through. I played the cello in elementary school, but I gave it up after one year. There are a handful of diaries and journals from my youth with only a weeks worth of entries in them. I have stopped and started numerous workout plans over the years, but never stuck to them with any consistency. I made it through 21 days of Whole30; and I even started and stopped writing on this blog multiple times over the past 6 years.
Recently after some personal setbacks, I’ve been trying to find inspiration and motivation to get my sh*t together. After some soul searching, I’ve think I’ve figured out the path I want to take. So, one of my new goals is to actually stick to my goals. How very meta.
Of course everyone is different, and willpower and follow through manifest themselves in different ways. But, I’m hoping these tips will help you in accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.
Set Smaller Goals
Is the thought of your goal(s) overwhelming you, are you regretting them already? That’s okay, it happens to the best of us. Setting smaller goals will make getting to that larger goal seem more feasible. If you’ve set a goal you want to complete by 2019, start by setting monthly goals, weekly goals or even daily goals. Day by day as you complete your micro goals you will get closer and closer to your overall destination and it won’t seem so unrealistic.
Strive for Perfection (Without Fearing Failure)
I first heard this in a TED talk and for the first minute I was sitting there thinking I completely disagreed with everything he was saying. But, the more I listened the more I was inspired by what he was saying. As a society we say perfection is impossible, we even say striving for it is bad for our psyche. But, really we accept mediocrity because we are afraid of failure. I agree that striving for a perfect life all together will cause stress, but you can be perfect in certain aspects. For example, it is possible to get a 100% on a test, if you study hard enough. So, what I got from this Ted Talk (even though I’m not positive its the message the speaker intended) is that in the things that are important to you, you should strive for perfection, but the inevitable failures along the way will be lessons to further perfect your actions in the future.
Keep a Record
By tracking and measuring your progress you become mindful of the steps you are taking. That’s an integral part of taking responsibility for your goals and actions.This can be done in the form of a journal, to-do lists, or calendars and planners. It’s also important to periodically review your record. I like to look over my planner at the end of the week and see what I did and did not accomplish. It helps inform my goal setting for the next week and holds me accountable for my actions.
Use the Buddy System
Tell your friends or partners about your goals and intentions. They can help hold you accountable. They can check in with you if they know you have a big deadline coming up, and you can do the same for them. It’s also a form of motivation in itself, to get your tasks done. If you know your friend will be checking in on you, it will give you an added incentive to get your work done.
It’s important to reward yourself if you complete an important task, or reach your goal. It can be as little as something like, “I work on this task for a set time limit, then you can reward your self with an episode of your favorite show on Netflix.” Or it can be as big as, ” if I complete my monthly goal or assignment then, I’ll reward myself with a pedicure.” But, its just as important to give yourself consequences if you do not complete a goal or task. If you have an important task you need to finish by the weekend, and Sunday morning rolls around and you aren’t anywhere close to being finished, then you should skip that brunch you were going to, and finish your task. Its all about being responsible for your choices.
In spite of all of this, I think its important that you give yourself a break. As long as you are doing your best to reach your goals and not making excuses that prevent you from following through, then you are doing all you can do. Sometimes there are things that are out of your control, that get in the way of accomplishing your goals. It is important to accept those things and move on without punishing yourself too harshly. Its especially important to not let those things throw you off track.
What are your tips for sticking to your goals? Let me know in the comments below!