What will keep you motivated toward your goal? The answer, keep your eyes on it. Never lose site of what you are working toward. Look at the picture and the reward you will reap when you finally reach your goal. Goals seem so far in the future and so hard to reach unless you break them down into small steps that allow you to track your progress.
Action creates motivation, so if you want to stay motivated, stay actively working on that goal. The more you work on it, the more motivated it keeps you. In addition, remember, there is an attractive prize at the end, whether it’s weight loss, better health or a project you want to accomplish.
Setting goals in small steps can keep you motivated to continue toward the big project. Make the goals so they can be charted and you can watch the progress of what you’re working toward. Make concrete goals that are measurable. If you’re writing a book, set a goal to complete a chapter a week, or a day if you have the time to do it. Set a goal for the month such as I want to write 15 chapters this month. At the end of the month, you can look at your manuscript and see if you made your goal. If you did, make it a little higher for the next month. Stretch yourself but be practical. If the coming month has two holidays, three birthdays and two public appearances, then cut back on the goal so you can reach it. If your goals are set too high, it can be frustrating if you are not reaching them and you are more likely to give up. They also shouldn’t be too easy, a challenge will keep you motivated to keep typing away on those pages with the end of the book in mind.
Have fun while working toward your goal. We need a break from a project, even if it’s something we want with all our heart. If you are working on a weight loss and exercise goal, vary what you’re doing. If you always use a stationary bike each day, why not change the routine and map out a mile or two to walk in your neighborhood. They say variety is the spice of life and it can keep your motivation going if you change your timetable around a little bit. Are you used to studying or writing in the evening? Try waking up early in the morning and spending quiet time before the busyness of the day takes over.
Involve your friends and family in your project. You are more likely to stay motivated if you have told someone what your goals are. If you are exercising or walking, find a partner. It will make it much more probable that you will continue to walk at a specified time and go to the gym. If you fail to show up, your partner will motivate you to come the next time. You are held accountable to someone else. If you are working alone, if you decide to not exercise or not write, you will only have yourself to shake things up and give you the push you need to get started again.
Don’t let discouragement take your eyes off the final goal. Sure, if we’re dieting there are going to be times when we fall off the eating plan. Instead of getting mad or discouraged, simply accept it as something that happens to everyone and go on to the next day. Don’t get down on yourself or feel guilty or ashamed. Enjoy that dessert and remind yourself of the bigger goal of being in the perfect bathing suit by summer. Have you not worked on your graduate thesis for a week? Enjoy your time off, remember what you’re working for, and work harder when you start up again.
Expect to reach a point when your plateau on a weight loss program, get bored with the great American novel you are writing, or get tired of depriving yourself of some wants to save for that dream vacation. When you reach that point, accept it, know that it happens to everyone and if you don’t allow discouragement to set in, you can soon pick up where you left off.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your goals, set new ones, and keep your eyes on the final prize, that one big goal you have been working for and then enjoy your life.