7 Ways To Actually Follow Through and Reach Your Goals
I used to be a disaster. Now that I am a professional organizer, I can look back on my own tornado of a life and figure out how I got through it to help everyone else. I’ve accomplished some really tough things, but I’ve also been an epic quitter.
What I’ve realized is this: No matter how big or small your goal is, no matter how motivated you are, no matter what tools, time, or “accountability partners” are available to you, if you don’t have the commitment to getting to the end result, nothing will get you there.
But, isn’t that what we’re all searching for? How to STAY COMMITTED?
That’s the hard part. There’s so much information on HOW to accomplish something-weight loss, writing a book, running a marathon, making a million dollars- but all the information in the world doesn’t lock that unwavering, non-stop determination into place. After feeling for many years that my life was a series of unfinished dreams, I knew enough was enough. I was tired of explaining to people who were excited about my ideas I had shared with them that I had put that plan on the “back burner” or that it was “coming along” once again, knowing that I hadn’t worked on it in months. The worst was telling people that I was, yet again, “starting fresh”.
Most of the time, we don’t need to “start fresh”. We need to KEEP GOING.
What some of us do in our goal-seeking is we make a mistake, quit (or contribute randomly), and then feel really bad about it and vow to start over. This is the mistake: the pull to need that “fresh start” feeling. It’s the pull that has us saying “I’ll wait to start again until the FIRST of the month”.
When you screw up, do NOT go back to the beginning. That’s like driving to a friend’s house for the first time and every time you make a wrong turn, you just drive all the way back home so that you can start over fresh. Get back on the correct freeway and KEEP GOING!
As someone who started off as a disaster and who ended up as a multiple marathon runner, a business owner, who traveled the world, who lost 50 lbs. despite health issues, I had to figure out what it was that kept me going until the finish of my biggest dreams and goals.
Here are the 7 Steps I use to achieve all of my goals:
1. The Clear End Result
What, exactly, are you going to accomplish? Set that down. That very, very clear result you desire. Do not make it unclear, it must be VERY specific.
This is an example of unclear: I want to lose weight.
Clear: I want to fit into a size 4, I want to weigh 140.
Unclear: I want to travel more.
Clear: I want to go to Spain in May 2014.
Unclear: I want to get out of debt.
Clear: I want all of my credit cards to have a zero balance and my credit score to be 740.
2. Work Backwards
Most people want to run at their goal from the start line. Well, when I was running my marathon, even though I hadn’t run the course yet, there were markers directing me where to go next, how far I’ve gone and what I’ve accomplished. There was also a course map provided to give me an idea of the elevation I would hit, the hills ahead of me, and bathroom and water stations.
Why don’t we do this for business? And for weight loss? And for wealth goals? Starting with the end in mind, plot backwards. What “mile markers” are there for you along the way to your goal that tell you that you’ve made progress? What will it take to reach each of those indicators?
It may not work out exactly, but you adjust as you go along, adjust as changes come. But, never stop knowing the goal or how the path has shifted.
3. The Routine
Commit to a schedule. You don’t skip meals very often, do you? I mean, maybe you have a bad day and forgot to bring lunch to work on the same day that you were running out and couldn’t grab breakfast. But you’re right back at it the next day, like clockwork, eating your little tuna sandwich and coconut water.
We need food consistently to survive, to have brain power, to have energy. Why is it so important to feed your body but you turn around and starve your goals?
Give your dreams the DAILY nourishment they need to survive, have power and energy to be accomplished. Every day, without fault, you should be doing something that moves you forward. It should feel WEIRD to not feed your goal on an off day. You should feel starving when you miss a day.
4. The Mantra
The one thing that keeps me going each day to reach a goal is my mantra. When I am running, I say a phrase over and over in my head. I say something like, “You can do this, run more, keep running. Just to the tree. You can run to that tree.” Over and over, I obsessively fill my head with encouraging chatter. And it pushes me. Then when I get to the tree, I don’t want to stop there. I then make more dialogue in my head to drown out the fatigue, the “I’m fat”, the “ok I think I went far enough for today” chatter. “Go, go, go, you’re fast today. Keep running, look how close we are. Just to the stop sign. Hello, stop sign, just to the light pole”. I find a rhythm and it becomes addictive and almost euphoric. In yoga, I fixate on a word or phrase. “I am worthy.” “I can do it.” The power of positive affirmations beat into your own head has a very strong effect after a while.
5. The Will
You have to want the discomfort of change more than you want the comfort of staying the same.
We get so used to quitting, to giving up, and to having the type of self talk that soothes us after we stop, that we don’t realize that we are more comfortable when we are miserable or stagnant because it feels familiar. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Results are always one step past your breaking point.
6. The Tracking
I am a big advocate of tracking results. How can you know if you’ve made any progress if you don’t know where you started? Writing down where you are and updating yourself on numbers and other milestones gives you measurable results, eliminating the issue of being at the mercy of your emotions. If it’s weight loss, try to use a tracker like Myfitnesspal, if it’s a financial goal, use Mint.com, if it’s a business goal, use something like Asana. Keep a journal to see how your moods and self talk has evolved. Let’s work with the cold, hard facts.
7. The Heart
Use your tears to give you a reason to keep going. The depression. The hurt. The anger. Did you really feel this hurt just to give up NOW? Really?
Did you work this hard this past week restricting yourself of food or social media or buying things just to give it all up? When it gets tough to keep going and you want to break down, think to yourself, I am not going to quit because I’m crying. I’m going to cry to keep going. The pain is the point that means you are ALMOST clear of the addiction to a passive lifestyle. The pain is the end of your old habits physically being transformed into new, amazing behavior, which will get you that goal.
Let’s Keep This Momentum Going.
You can find Monica Fay at www.totallynormalchaos.com
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on August 19, 2016.