When Goals are Forgotten: 4 Steps to Get Back on Track
Most people start pursuing their goals – especially New Year’s resolutions – with great passion. But over time, they lose momentum, burn out and put their dreams aside.
If this happens to you, it’s a clear-cut sign that your goals are not sustainable. In this article, you’ll discover how to get back on track toward your goals – and accelerate your momentum.
1. Evaluate Your Motivation
If you’ve lost momentum toward your goals, the first thing to do is verify your commitment. A lot of our goals tend to be “should’s” rather than deep “want to’s.” But I’ve discovered that without a burning desire to achieve a goal, your motivation wanes quickly, and your subconscious mind turns its attention to more exciting desires.
For example, many people set New Year’s resolutions to lose weight – a goal that often falls into the “should” category. We feel like should lose weight because it will make us healthier, reduce stress on our joints, and make us feel more confident and attractive. Unfortunately, these benefits are typically not compelling enough to motivate us to keep our commitment to lose the extra pounds.
However, if you find out that a new baby will soon join your family, your “why” suddenly becomes bigger. Now you’re motivated to lose weight because doing so will increase the odds that you’ll be around to watch that baby grow into adulthood.
Pull out your list of goals, and for each one, ask, “What is my why? Why do I want to achieve this? And am I committed enough to my why to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal?” By identifying or even upgrading your “why,” you can tap into greater motivation and commitment to achieve your goal.
2. Create an Action Plan
Once you’ve confirmed that your goals are things you truly want to achieve, the next thing to do is to create an action plan.
One by one, break each of your goals down. Get clear on what would really be required to achieve each goal. Realistically assess how many hours it would take each week or day to achieve the goal.
Next, start scheduling all of the activities that are required to achieve your various goals. (Note: If you don’t know all of the steps to achieve them, just list the ones that you are aware of for the purposes of this exercise; the rest of the steps will unfold once you begin taking action.)
Once you start scheduling key activities into your calendars, many of us begin to realize that there’s not enough time in our schedules to accomplish everything we want to do. If this is the case for you, go back and prioritize your goals. Which goals matter the most to you? Do any of your goals need to achieved before you can start working on another goal?
3. Declare Your Intentions
When you’re clear about which goals you’ll work on, you can increase your commitment by publicly declaring your intentions. Share your goals with the people in your life – the more, the better. You’ll be more likely to take action toward achieving your goals when the alternative is losing face with people about whom you care.
If the threat of public humiliation isn’t enough, you also can incorporate a negative consequence. Find something that will be painful for you to do, and publicly commit to enduring the consequence if you don’t achieve your goal.
Some people are more motivated by rewards than punishments. If this describes you, find a reward that you’ll receive upon completion of your goal. This could be anything from a vacation to buying the car you want or something more simple, such as treating yourself to a new outfit, Louis Vuitton bag or a massage. Rewards are powerful for motivating your inner child.
4. Creating Accountability
Most of us find it easy to let ourselves off the hook. We can quickly justify why we haven’t followed through on our commitment to take action on any particular day, just as we can easily make excuses about why we miss our targets completely.
If you find yourself frequently slipping into these habits, an accountability partner will be a huge benefit to you. In fact, I believe so strongly in accountability partners that participants at my annual Breakthrough to Success training pair up with another attendee as their accountability partner before they leave.
Accountability partnerships work as follows: Each morning, you hold a 5-minute phone call during which you each share what you’re committing to do that day. For example, you could share your “Rule of 5,” in which you commit to doing 5 things to move you toward your biggest goal. (Tip: Use my Top 5 Priority Action Post-It notes to keep your commitment front and center.)
The next morning, you report on your progress from the previous day and share what you’ll accomplish in the coming 24-hour period. Knowing that your partner will be asking you whether you upheld your commitments the day before can be a powerful motivator for getting tasks completed.
A proven twist on accountability partnerships is working toward your goal with another person. For example, I meditate with my wife every morning. We hold each other accountable. If I sleep in too late, I can count on Inga to wake me up and say, “Come on, we’re meditating now.”
If you find that having a friend or colleague serve as your accountability partner is not enough, consider hiring a professional, such as a coach or trainer. These individuals may be better equipped to recognize self-sabotaging behaviors and beliefs – as well as to hold you accountable for taking action. And if you’re someone who hates to waste money, knowing that you’re paying someone to hold you accountable might be the added motivation you need to keep your commitments.
Get Back on Track – Starting TODAY!
It’s normal to veer off course when pursuing goals. Sometimes this happens because we’re not truly committed to our goals. Other times, it’s because we struggle to hold ourselves accountable for doing the necessary work. Use the tips in this article to get yourself back on track in making steady progress in turning your dreams into a reality.