Even the road trip of a lifetime involves many long, boring hours on the highway. The scenery grows mundane and the seat becomes uncomfortable. Despite great planning—a clearly identified goal, with intermediate milestones —actually reaching the goal is still arduous work. Staying on-course requires some key strategies:
- “Marry” it to an existing habit. To cultivate a new behavior, necessary to achieving a goal, try associating it with something already part of your routine.
I always stop for coffee on the way to the office; I’ll check the stock reports while I wait and be able to keep better tabs on my investments. I’ll do 20 push-ups right before I brush my teeth at night, which should help prevent my shoulder from dislocating.
- Review them. Often. Revisit the list of dream goals and allow your written enthusiasm to reinvigorate your zeal. Place your written goals within your line of sight for daily reminders above the desk, on the refrigerator or other places you see on a daily basis. Without frequent review, goals get lost in the daily grind; the motivation behind the goal fades.
I knew signing up for that class would cut into my free time, but once it’s complete, I’ll be poised for promotion.
- Establish an intermediate incentive. Just as milestones help keep progress on track, rewards along the way foster high motivation.
I’ve lost five of the twenty pounds I need to lose, so I’ll treat myself to a massage.
- Call in the pros. Or a friend. A fresh perspective, some new tricks of the trade, or a little accountability, will help you stay in the game.
I didn’t make any progress on the book I’d like to write because I didn’t know where to begin; I’ll hire a book coach to help me make strides.
- Evaluate new information. Sometimes life takes abrupt turns that necessitate course correction or the formation of new goals. Give yourself permission—and grace—to rewrite the story in light of truly unforeseen, life-altering circumstances. Keep in mind though not all life changes are large enough to warrant such amendments.
Paying off the mortgage is no longer a realistic goal after being laid off. I’ll focus my financial goals on trimming costs, while I look for a new job. Being diagnosed as diabetic means I can’t spend as much time learning a new hobby, but I’ll learn how to cook differently instead.
Staying on-course requires some key strategies.
Goal setting isn’t a hard science. It’s a fluid, dynamic process that mirrors life. Use these tools to stay on track, not as rules or instruments to produce guilt.
Only a small portion of people set goals for themselves; even fewer write them down or ever review them, so it’s no surprise that years slip by without achievement. This year can be different!
In the words of Samuel Jackson, “It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.”