We all have goals, from decluttering wardrobes to starting our own businesses. But how do you stick to your goals and stop abandoning them when things get tough? Here are tips to help you stick to your all-important life-goals helping you stay on the right track.
1. Stick to your goals: Are they too big?
We don’t want to discourage you, so without dampening your life-goal, ask yourself if your goals fit in with your life. We’re surrounded by social media mantras chanting things like ‘think big’, or ‘The bigger the better’, but when it comes to life goals it’s often easier to break them down into manageable chunks. PR exec Lucy, 33, agrees her goals were too lofty: “I decided when I got to thirty I wanted to write a novel, so quit my job and set about writing what was in my head, but soon realised I needed a bit of help,” she explains. “I thought I’d be able to download my thoughts into a bestselling page-turner but in reality, I had no experience. I then discovered a few writing courses which helped me not only with my writing structure but also my personal career plan and what I should be doing at each stage.”
Lucy started running before she could walk, and this is an important life lesson – it’s great to have big goals, but break them up into achievable chunks first and do your research. What might you need (courses, online tutorials, chatting to people who can help you) to help you move on to the next step and closer to your goal?
2. Stick to your goals: Surround yourself with success
Motivational speaker John Rohn famously said: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. What he meant was that the people you surround yourself with shape who you are. They affect your opinions and motivations and inspire and motivate you. This doesn’t mean you should ditch friends that don’t share your aspirations (or stalk your local MP because you want to get into politics). Surrounding yourself with people you admire, or with those who have positive can-do attitudes will inspire you to be the same. If your friends are on similar journeys to you (getting fit, changing career, learning to cook) it will be so much easier to discuss your problems, or ask advice when things get tricky.
3. Stick to your goals: Tell people
Telling people about your goals will bring them to life. They will also make it harder for you to give up if others know your plans. Milly, 28, agrees; “I told my two best friends I wanted to start my own business and they were really supportive,” she explains. “It also helped that they are both ‘problem solvers’ so we were fountains of knowledge when I hit snags. Of course, I was starting my business for myself but I also didn’t want to let my friends down.” Telling people can be really motivating as you know they’ll check on your progress, or be disappointed if you give up too easily.
4. Stick to your goals: Reward yourself along the way
Rewarding yourself during your journey can be really motivating, especially if you have a long-term goal that may take years to achieve. For example, if you’ve decided to get fit and ultimately run a marathon, make sure you build in achievable goals along the way – running one mile, then three miles to start with, then 10k, then a half marathon until you build-up to the big event. Treat yourself along the way – a new running top once you’ve completed your first 10k for example. This makes the journey just as rewarding as the goal itself.
5. Stick to your goals: Self-belief
First and foremost, it’s imperative you believe in yourself and your abilities to achieve your goals. If you believe in yourself, others are more likely to believe in you. Start by writing a list of all your accomplishments and why you can achieve your goal. Next write all the things stopping you (finances, courses you need to take, commitments getting in the way) and work out how you can change these things. As long as the first list is longer than the second, you’re on track to achieve your goals. It’s also important to realise that you will grow on your goal-journey, both with confidence and skills. Instead of basing your beliefs on what you possess today, part of your self-belief will be in your ability to adapt, learn and change your attitude as your progress.
6. Stick to your goals: Have a motivation Mood board
“After I had children I realised working long hours in an office didn’t really suit family life,” says mum of two, Petra. “So I decided to start my own children’s clothing business from home. During the first two years before the business really took off, I taped a picture above my desk of the perfect home office room with three desks and sewing machines, I’d found in an interiors magazine. That picture literally kept me going as I knew one day I would have that lovely office and employ some equally lovely people to work alongside me!”
It doesn’t matter what the pictures are: places you want to travel to, the bookshop you’d love to own, the body you admire or the phrases from the language you want to master, just tape them up where you can easily glance at them when you need a boost.
7. Stick to your goals: Create a mantra
Following on from point six, place pictures around a mantra that really means something to you that you can read every day. Be warned, some mantras are pretty saccharine but there are enough out there to find one that suits you. Try these for starters:
The best way to do something is to simply begin
You didn’t come this far only to come this far
Where words fail, actions succeed
You don’t have to be perfect to succeed
Giving it a chance is better than not trying at all
I’m doing this for me
Don’t wish for it, work for it
And my favourite…
Wake up, kick ass, be kind
Read our Selfish Darling feature on Empowering song lyrics that could form your new mantra for inspiration.
8. Stick to your goals: write a journal
Keeping a journal means you’ll always have a personal record of your journey so far. At any point, you can flip back to the start of your journal and see how far you’ve come. Make sure you write down your goals at the start; this can also help to crystalise and define exactly what your goals are. Writing will also help you work through problems that might crop up and you can look back at when similar problems appeared in the past. The other benefit of a journal is that it is a dated diary – you can go for three months into the future and mark what you need to achieve for example. It can help to remind you of tasks you need to do (‘on this date, start thinking about marketing’ for example). However, what is important is to be understanding towards yourself, if you don’t achieve things by a certain date, don’t beat yourself up about it. Write down why you didn’t do it and what your next steps are. Perhaps you can learn from this and give yourself more time to complete the next task.
9. Stick to your goals: Set aside time
Set aside time each day where you take positive steps towards achieving your goals. It might be ten minutes or an hour, but you can pledge to spend it enhancing your aspirations, learning a new skill or researching your next steps. Carly, 42, agrees: “When I reached forty I decided I wanted to learn to play the piano. Something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I put aside twenty minutes a day at first to practice as that’s all I could fit in and then increased the time as I got better. I then scheduled in an extra ten minutes a day to watch tutorials or people playing the piano who I admired. Two years later and I’m still learning, but I can now read music and can play anything with practice!”
10. Stick to your goals: App it
You’ve got the mantra, the picture of your dream house, the journal and the positive attitude. Still, need a helping hand to achieve your goals? Try downloading one of these apps to help you along the way.
Pledgr – this goal-setting app helps you set and achieve goals, keeps you motivated and reminds you to stick to your goals. You can’t take it back once a goal is set so there’s no quitting!
Strides – Goal & Habit Tracker – Track your goals and habits from saving money, to exercise, sleeping more or even drinking more water! You can track good and bad habits and the app reminds you of your goals and keeps you motivated with charts. It also helps you to complete projects on time with reminders.
Motivation Daily Quotes. When you’re going through tough times, this app sends you positive motivational reminders and quotes once a day. You can customise the design of your uplifting message and choose your theme. You can also send quotes you like to help motivate friends and family.
Way of life – habit tracker. Change your habits and way of life with this habit tracker app. Collect information and spot negative and positive trends in your life.
Hopefully, these 10 tips will help you stick to your goals!