It’s hard to sustain effort over time. Sometimes it’s easier to get started than it is to keep going. This happens all the time with New Year’s Resolutions…if you belong to a gym you are well aware of the crowds that come in January and how quickly it goes back to normal in the next month or two. People often spend all their energy gearing up to get started and forget to plan for how to keep going.
In the first 2 posts in this series, we covered the difference between dreams and goals (and why they are both essential) and learned how to set SMART goals. Now that you have dreams and a plan in place for how to meet them, ensure your success by learning from the past and using organizational tools (and people!) to help you stay organized and accountable. An effective goal setting process incorporates opportunities to reassess and refocus when needed.
If you haven’t grabbed your free SMART goals worksheet get it now to help you set and achieve all your goals effectively:
Refocus, reset, and put measures in place to help you keep going when you are short on motivation.
Take a look at your past plans. What did you do well and what needs to improve? Try to identify the ways you set yourself up to not succeed because your goals were too general, focused only on the endpoint, and not the steps needed to get there. Were you confused about the difference between dreams and goals?
If the plans weren’t successful can you identify what got in the way?
- Were you lacking passion for the goal? Was the desire to reach the goal coming from inside you or in reaction to external pressures? ie did a boss or a family member tell you that you “should” do something and you made that a goal but really it wasn’t what YOU wanted and felt passionate about?
- Was your plan vague, lacking specific steps, and without tangible results to measure?
- Were your goals unrealistic?
- Did your goals lack action steps to achieve them and accountability to stay on track?
The best part of making mistakes is that we can learn from them. Make sure you take the time to gather all the pearls of wisdom you can from your past efforts whether they were successful or not.
How to set SMART goals and stick to them: Use organizational tools
Use a planner and daily to-do lists to write down a schedule for your action plans and when you will meet your milestones. This will help you stay organized and on track to meeting the goals you set.
We are more likely to do things that have been scheduled rather than leaving it to chance if we will have enough time. We don’t want daily tasks to trump our goals and scheduling is a good way to have better balance.
For more information on getting organized and executive functioning techniques to stay on top of your to-do list read these posts:
How to set SMART goals and stick to them: Increase your accountability
Your drive to accomplish your goal and stay organized will wax and wane over time. This is to be expected, so plan for those times when you will be feeling temporarily low on motivation before you even start.
- As I said above, use your calendar to keep track of your plan. When it’s in the calendar it is more likely to get done.
- Schedule a weekly time to reassess your progress.
- Write down your accomplishments and challenges weekly.
- Tell people about your plan. Don’t keep it to yourself.
- Try to find someone to join you as an accountability partner. We all could use some help staying on track!
Anticipate that bumps in the road will throw you off-track and allow yourself the flexibility and grace to take a deep breath and move forward. Just because you missed a deadline doesn’t mean the goal is dead.
Sometimes if we get too rigid it knocks all the fun out of the process.
When you find yourself off-track, take a moment to rethink the process to see if it needs to be tweaked. Talk it over with a friend, mentor, or therapist. Sometimes we have a hard time seeing solutions (or alternatives) if we are emotionally invested in a plan. Others can bring an outside perspective and help us clarify when we are stuck.
As you are carrying out your plan:
- Celebrate what you get done instead of putting yourself down for not completing every item.
- Focus on what you CAN do and not what you CAN’T.
Now get started!
There is no better time than today to start to work on your SMART goals. You have already set yourself up for success by going through the process of writing out your SMART goals, scheduling them on the calendar, and letting others know what you are up to. Now take the first step to get going!
What is your goal?
Share your tips about how to stay motivated and on track. What helps you to keep pushing forward and sustain the effort that is needed to meet goals?
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