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How to Reach Your Goals By (Almost) Ignoring Them

How to Reach Your Goals By (Almost) Ignoring Them


    We all have big goals–losing weight, starting a business, whatever. Big goals are great. They can transform your life. Problem is, after about a week, most of us lose motivation. Our dreams don’t die, but our gumption dries up. Then on your birthday or New Year’s Day or some other annual milestone, we look at our goals list and kick ourselves and feel like perpetual slackers for not achieving anything.

    It’s a common problem, and happens because you haven’t stoked the furnace of your passion so you can persistently move toward your goals. Willpower and passion alone aren’t enough. Scheduling time to work toward our goals is helpful, but still isn’t enough.

    SEE: Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach Their Goals

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    So how can you reach your goal by ignoring it? It sounds counter-intuitive, but the strategies below really work.

    It’s easy to get excited about a goal, but that excitement won’t put enough fuel in the tank to take you down the long road so you can reach your goal.

    The trick to staying motivated and inspired

    It’s tempting to keep your eye on the prize, your goal. Some people like to make a collage of goal-related images and quotes, and slap in on their wall to constantly remind them about their goal. A concrete, visual reminder can be helpful, but again, it’s often not enough to keep focused on a goal over weeks, months, or years.

    Instead of focusing so much on your end goal–that thing far off on the horizon–focus on the immediate benefits. What you need is daily inspiration and reinforcement to keep you going. It’s like having your own personal cheerleading squad behind you every step of the way–even when you don’t feel like doing anything.

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    Create immediate reinforcement for taking action toward your goals. If you have immediate reinforcement, you don’t have to keep your eye on the prize as much. You don’t have to rely on unreliable willpower. Immediate reinforcement stokes your fire to keep you on track toward your goal.

    How do you give yourself immediate reinforcement? By focusing on how you feel when you take action, no matter how small the action is. Pay attention to how you feel when you do something that’s related to your goal. Do you feel inspired? Excited? Responsible? Empowered? What are your thoughts when you take action on your goal? Maybe you find yourself thinking “This is easier than I thought!”, or “Look at how much I’ve done in the past week!”. Pay attention to these feelings and thoughts, since that’s what’s going to fuel your persistence, and what will ultimately make it possible to reach your goal.

    SEE: 3 Common Goal Setting Mistakes

    A bonus trick to make it easy to start

    But what if you don’t even know where to start? Maybe you’ve got a big goal you’re excited about, but are overwhelmed? Fear not.

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    Here’s your bonus trick: spend 5 minutes planning what you need to do to start. In your plan, list tasks that are so incredibly easy and tiny, that you’re guaranteed to do them. To paraphrase a Kaizen saying:

    “You must be as certain you can do these tiny tasks as you are that the sun will rise tomorrow.”

    For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, don’t start by trying to run a 10k. Start by putting on your exercise shoes. Make that your daily goal. If you can do that–and want to do a little extra–just step outside. If you want to do more, then walk around the block. But make those first tiny steps, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, and use them to give yourself immediate reinforcement for taking action.

    These ideas are partly derived from the book Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being by Michael Otto, Ph.D. and Jasper A.J. Smits, Ph.D. But even if you don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, and just want to get your butt in gear, the principles can be applied to any challenging task or goal.

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    Daily action and immediate reinforcement will snowball and allow you to reach your goal–without having to rely on your shaky willpower. So feel free to–almost–ignore your goal, but make sure to take daily action, and then reward and reinforce yourself for taking that action.

    What’s your next action going to be?

    Do it right now. In the comments, share your task/goal, your daily action, and how you’ll reinforce yourself.

    (Photo credit: Penalty Shootout in Amatuer Football via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on May 24, 2019

      How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

      How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

      If you’ve ever wondered how to be productive at home or how you could possibly have a more productive day, look no further.

      Below you’ll find six easy tips that will help you make the most out of your time:

      1. Create a Good Morning Routine

      One of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast.

      CEOs and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising and quickly scanning their inboxes to find the most urgent tasks.[1]

      You can also try writing first thing in the morning to warm up your brain[2] (750 words will help with that). But no matter what you choose to do, remember to create good morning habits so that you can have a more productive day.

      If you aren’t sure how to make morning routine work for you, this guide will help you:

      The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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      2. Prioritize

      Sometimes we can’t have a productive day because we just don’t know where to start. When that’s the case, the most simple solution is to list everything you need to get accomplished, then prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency.

      Week Plan is a simple web app that will help you prioritize your week using the Covey time management grid. Here’s an example of it:[3]

        If you get the most pressing and important items done first, you will be able to be more productive while keeping stress levels down.

        Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, also has great advice on how to prioritize. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

        How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

        3. Focus on One Thing at a Time

        One of the biggest killers of productivity is distractions. Whether it be noise or thoughts or games, distractions are a barrier to any productive day. That’s why it’s important to know where and when you work best.

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        Need a little background noise to keep you on track? Try working in a coffee shop.

        Can’t stand to hear even the ticking of a clock while writing? Go to a library and put in your headphones.

        Don’t be afraid to utilize technology to make the best of your time. Sites like [email protected] and Simply Noise can help keep you focused and productive all day long.

        And here’s some great apps to help you focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

        4. Take Breaks

        Focusing, however, can drain a lot of energy and too much of it at once can quickly turn your productive day unproductive.

        To reduce mental fatigue while staying on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25 minute session.

        After four “pomodoro sessions,” be sure to take a longer break to rest and reflect.

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        I like to work in 25 and 5 minute increments, but you should find out what works best for you.

        5. Manage Your Time Effectively

        A learning strategies consultant once told me that there is no such thing as free time, only unstructured time.

        How do you know when exactly you have free time?

        By using the RescueTime app, you can see when you have free time, when you are productive, and when you actually waste time.

        With this data, you can better plan out your day and keep yourself on track.

        Moreover, you can increase the quality of low-intensity time. For example, reading the news while exercising or listening to meeting notes while cooking. Many of the mundane tasks we routinely accomplish can be paired with other tasks that lead to an overall more productive day.

        A bonus tip, even your real free time can be used productively, find out how:

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        20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time

        6. Celebrate and Reflect

        No matter how you execute a productive day, make sure to take time and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to reward yourself so that you can continue doing great work. Plus, a reward system is an incredible motivator.

        Additionally, you should reflect on your day in order to find out what worked and what didn’t. Reflection not only increases future productivity, but also gives your brain time to decompress and de-stress.

        Try these 10 questions for daily self reflection.

        More Articles About Daily Productivity

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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