How to Set Goals You’ll Stick to
January 15, 2017
This is one part of our four-part series on motivation
There are lots of things you can do to make sure you accomplish all that your heart desires, but few are as easy and effective as writing down your goals. The thing is, for a lot of people taking this step can feel anywhere from pointless to overwhelming.
The folks who find it pointless don’t see how it will change anything, while those who find it overwhelming don’t know where to start because SO MANY THINGS.
But it’s not pointless. And it definitely doesn’t need to be overwhelming.
Taking pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) sends a very clear message to your brain: it clarifies what you want, sets the stage for forward momentum, and says that you’re willing and committed to making it happen.
If you’re a human being, chances are you have a thousand different things vying for your brain’s attention at any given moment. This makes it pretty tough for the average (and above average) person to sort out priorities and next steps.
By showing you where to focus, setting goals organizes the brain chaos that so often gets in the way of motivation. It helps you tune out the unhelpful thought-noise and hone in on what’s really important to you. And in our digital distraction-obsessed culture, we need that noise tuned out more than ever before.
So, here’s how to set goals simply, easily, and in a way you can (and will!) stick to.
How to set ‘em:
Keep it simple - Rather than look at your whooooooooole life’s goals, pick one or two while thinking about the next six months. Six months from now, what is something you’d like to get done that’ll make you feel like the super badass that you are?
Be realistic - When you think about accomplishing that awesome thing, does it feel impossible to do in six months, or totally doable? If it feels super lofty, then break it down. For instance, if a marathon is your goal, but six months of training doesn’t feel like quite enough time to get there, make the goal a half marathon. You’re still working toward the big marathon without overwhelming or pushing yourself to unreasonable (motivation-killing) limits.
Write it down - Sweet and simple. Take that goal out of your mind and put it on a piece of paper or digital sticky note where you’ll see it regularly. Even better, write it on a mirror, stick it to your refrigerator, or add it to your calendar for a weekly reminder. Making it visible will condition your mind to pay attention to and prioritize it in the way you intended.
How to stick to ‘em:
Take advantage of social media
Rather than use social media as mindless distraction or to make unfair comparisons, use it as the awesome accountability tool it can be. Our Facebook page is an example of folks supporting one another on their fitness journey and it never ceases to amaze us what a positive impact a supportive community can make.
Consider telling your following about your commitment, then give them regular updates. A few well-timed likes and “how’s it going?” questions can work wonders when it comes to helping you stay on track.
Document your journey
One of the greatest motivators of all is seeing how far you’ve come. When you’re looking at yourself each day, it can be tough to see your progress, so do yourself a favor and track it.
If your goal is movement-related, at the end of each workout, take a few minutes to jot down what you did. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Simply writing “jogged 15 minutes, did 3 sets of 5lb bicep curls, squatted for 20 seconds, etc.” is all you need.
Don’t feel like writing anything down? Take a picture instead. Photos are a super quick and easy way to monitor your progress.
No matter which route you take, before you know it you’ll be looking back on those days in awe of how much further you’re now able to go, how much more you’re able to lift, and how much easier those first sets feel!
And finally, be kind to yourself
If you’ve set a goal and are taking steps to make it happen, then you’re being brave, amazing, and inspiring for more people than you might realize. Never forget that.
Especially in those times you experience setbacks (and, assuming you’re a human being, you will experience setbacks), your greatest defense against any motivation killer is self-compassion.
Being kind to yourself and practicing positive self-talk will buoy you out of a slump a whole lot faster than deciding that you stink. Plus, it’s more honest--you don’t stink, you’re brave, amazing, and inspiring for trying and continuing to try, remember?
So, brave, amazing, inspiring soul, go forth on ye goal-setting journey and become the version of yourself you’ve always wanted to be!
This is one section of our four-part series on finding inner-motivation. Check out the other motivation-makers below: