Long-term goals are hard to stick to, and no wonder. Life always seems to get in the way of your plans, somehow, leaving you unable to make progress on the projects and accomplishments you told yourself you wanted to complete. The new career, the fitness regimen, and that education seem like an endless process that often has no obvious end point.
But rather than losing motivation and focus, you can learn how to channel your desires, avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and apathy to accomplish whatever you hope to achieve. Here are five focus hacks to help you meet your goals.
1. Remind yourself of the benefits
Whatever goal you’ve set for yourself, it must be for a reason. It’s probably for several reasons. If you want to lose weight, it’s probably because it’ll improve your breathing, ease pain in your knees, increase your fitness capabilities or increase your clothing options. If you want a career change, it could be because a new career could give you more flexible hours, a renewed sense of purpose, a better salary or a more comfortable working condition.
These are reasons you want to accomplish your goal, and a good way to remain focused is to write down the benefits of whatever you hope to accomplish to remind yourself of what it is you’re working towards. When you lose interest in putting in the effort to go for that run or take on that extra assignment, think about how the end goal can improve your life.
2. Track your progress
Another excellent way to motivate yourself is by tracking your progress in a goal in some way. A timeline, a series of before and after photos, a check list of to-dos that have been completed can serve as a reminder of the effort you’ve put into completing your task. This can motivate you to complete something so as not to have wasted all that effort.
Further, this allows you to look at any possible benefits you can develop along the way, rather than thinking of benefits as merely something that comes at the end of accomplishing a goal. It is a reminder that every step is an accomplishment and a visual aid of how many steps you’ve taken to complete your goal so far.
3. Prioritize to meet your goal
Surprise distractions or events can often throw one’s plans off track. Sometimes it may feel like the world is intentionally attempting to sabotage your attempts to meet your goals. Maybe a financially tight period is ruining your goal of building savings or a social group that relies on eating out is making your weight loss goals difficult.
An important step in keeping yourself on track is to prioritize your goal in your life. What is more important than it? What isn’t? If it isn’t, do what’s necessary to prioritize your goals over distractions. Identify to yourself what will lead to achieving your long-term accomplishments and what won’t.
4. Identify steps to your goal
Breaking your goal down into smaller, easier accomplishments can ease your path and reduce stress as you try to accomplish a goal. These short-term goals can provide you with the instant feel-good of an accomplishment and still progress you forward.
For example, for a larger weight loss goal of 20 pounds, one might set multiple 2-lb goals to reach. 10 short-term goals later, one has multiple accomplishments under their belt. To your brain, each individual goal reached is interpreted as a win and gets that dopamine rush that keeps you motivated. Identifying steps to your goal can also help you plan as you move forward and foresee difficulties or checkpoints.
5. Find motivational partner
A partner who can keep you on track is one of the best tools to meeting and accomplishing any goal. Someone who can hold you accountable provides an outside factor to keep you making progress. It’s a tactic many rehab programs use as a way to prevent common relapse triggers.
This alleviates some of the pressure off of you, as it’s now not entirely up to you to keep yourself motivated. A partner is harder to say no to than yourself and is likely to be less receptive than you are to excuses. Take advantage of someone who won’t let you stray from your goals.
Finding motivation to meet your long-term goals is hard, and maintaining it over a long period of time can feel impossible. Using these techniques, you can push yourself towards the success you’ve always wanted but never had the time to accomplish.
Featured photo credit: Kirk Olson via flic.kr