When you first start working towards a goal, much of your motivation comes from the excitement of working on something fresh. It’s fun to work on a goal and to imagine what your life will be like when you achieve it.
But as you go along, that excitement wears off. At the same time, other stuff gets in your way. Like work, study and Netflix. Maybe you experience a couple of setbacks with your goals. And suddenly you’ve lost momentum and have gotten off track with your goal.
While you may be tempted to just throw in the towel (well that didn’t work out so maybe I don’t really want it after all), experiencing setbacks is a totally natural part of the process to achieving a goal.
In fact, if you can refocus on your goal and start working on it again, you’re more likely to achieve it because you have reaffirmed (in your mind) just how important your goal is to you.
If you’ve fallen behind on reaching a goal, here are a few things you can try to get back on track.
Be honest about what’s not working for you
Sometimes we might have a certain goal in mind but things we’re trying to do to get there just aren’t working.
Say your goal is to get fitter and you’ve decided to get up every morning at 6am to go to the gym. But with a late night job, you’re just so tired in the morning that it’s much easier to hit snooze and go back to sleep.
Rather than try to struggle against your circumstances, look at how you can change the way you go about achieving the same goal.
So instead of scheduling in a 6am gym session, look at whether you can hit the gym later in the day.
And if the problem is that you really just hate going to the gym (hey, some of us just don’t get excited by loud techno music and lycra), find a style of exercise you can get into - whether that’s a long hike each weekend, an energetic yoga class or something fun like roller skating.
Find smaller ways to stick to your goals
When we start out on a goal we often want to go all in. So you make huge, dramatic changes to your life.
But for some people, sticking to big changes is really hard. Instead, you need to make smaller (miniscule even) changes and stick to them daily.
If your goal is to save up for a holiday, instead of trying to save half of your pay each month, start out small by focusing on just saving all the change left in your wallet at the end of the day. Then you can build up to saving the cost of a dinner out or a new outfit. Eventually, you won’t think twice about socking away hundreds of dollars for your trip.
Some people find it easy to stick to a goal, whether the expectation comes from someone else (like committing with your partner to save more) or from yourself (like telling yourself you’ll give up on sugar).
But many of us find it really easy to meet external expectations (like uni deadlines or getting to work on time), but struggle when it comes to keeping promises to ourselves.
If you’re in the latter camp, then one solution is to find some external accountability to meet your personal goal.
There are a few ways to go about. You could enlist a (somewhat bossy) friend to check in with your progress regularly. Or you could start a blog or YouTube channel and regularly talk about how your goal is going.
If that all sounds a bit too much sharing for you (hey, we get it), then something as simple as keeping a visible reminder can help. What about buying a stack of ping pong balls and a big, clear container. Put the container somewhere you’ll see daily and every time you make progress towards your goal, add a ball. The visual reminder, plus the urge to see the container getting fuller, might be enough accountability you need.