How do you keep yourself committed to your goals? It’s great to have big dreams and set challenging goals for ourselves, but the follow-through is the tough part.
Believe it or not, I only recently started setting goals for myself. I didn’t think I was a “goals’ person (as if that is a thing), even though I had ambitions I believed I would somehow achieve. After a while, I realized I wasn’t getting any closer to the life I wanted, and I decided to be more intentional. So, I started setting goals, and then I ran into the next hurdle – execution. I realized that I would be motivated for a period, and then after a while I would struggle to keep up the momentum, until I simply reverted to business as usual.
In trying to figure out how to fix that, I came across some guidance that helped me determine what I needed, and I’ll share that here.
1. Do some soul searching
First, understanding yourself is key. What gets you motivated? Do you respond more to external expectations (doing things because you don’t want to disappoint others or want to have a bad reputation) or are internal expectations enough to keep you committed (doing things because you determine by yourself that they are important, even if there are no external consequences). If you’re curious, you can take Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies quiz.
She roughly categorizes people into four:
- Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
- Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves (This is me, lol)
This is very important because it helps clarify what kind of strategies will be helpful in keeping you committed. I discovered I am an obliger, and this helped shape my approach. After you’ve done some soul searching, you can then try the following options.
2. Get a coach
Coaches are people who possess the right skillset and experience to provide guidance in a particular subject area. Typically, they are experts in the field you are hoping to master. You can get a coach for your business, career, to learn a specific skill or to provide direction in your life in general. It can be a short or long-term relationship depending on what your needs are. Currently, I’m working with a coach who specializes in human capital development. She provides guidance and helps me discover the best parts of myself and how I can use that to build the life I desire. (She’s amazing. Seriously. Hit me up if you want the plug).
Coaches are great if you’re new to something and need direction. They can be a significant investment, but well worth it if you find the right one. When seeking out one, ensure you do your due diligence:
- Look out for reviews from their clients, check their reputation – google them (Are they well known/recognized in their industry? What are they known for?). People who have a reputation to protect are less likely to be flukes
- Check their social media/online presence (How do they relate with people? Do they present themselves professionally?)
- Check their track record (Do their results speak for themselves? Do they have the relevant certifications, where applicable? Can you clearly see that they have competency/experience in the area they are coaching?)
3. Set up/join an accountability group or partnership
One of the best decisions I made last year was starting an accountability group. It’s a group of people who help one another stay committed to achieving their goals by being accountable to one another. An accountability partnership works in the same way, except it is made up of only two people. You can have accountability partnerships for specific goals (for instance, accountability partners for your fitness goals, who are trying to achieve the same goals) or you can have one that generally holds you accountable to whatever goal you’re working towards at the time.
My group is not subject-specific, so we have people in various professions, trying to achieve different goals. We break down our long-term goals into weekly ones and report on our progress each week. These are great for people who respond better to external expectations (like me!), because you literally have to answer to people about the goals you’ve set, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint your partner(s). A few things to keep in mind in doing this:
- Choose people you respect/ people whose opinions will matter to you. It’s only effective if you’re actually “afraid” of disappointing them
- Prioritize the periodic check-ins. Respect the people you are accountable to by showing up when it’s time to check-in
- Give as good as you get. Contribute to the partnership as much as you expect to receive support and feedback from your partner(s)
4. Use visual aids/reminders
Keep your goals visible, to remind yourself of what you need to achieve every day. I put up post-it notes where I can see them at home. That way, I’m always reminded of what I need to do before my next accountability group check-in. You can also use sticky notes on your laptop, screensavers on your phone, etc. Anything that you access often is a good candidate for placing prompts/reminders.
5. Make out time to work on your goals
This is probably the most important tip: you need to actively create time to work on your goals. I block off time in my calendar for the things I need to do. I schedule my week ahead, bearing in mind the goals I need to work on, and allocate time for each of those activities. While I always leave room for flexibility, this helps ensure I’m taking measured, consistent steps towards achieving my goals.
Of course, these tips are not mutually exclusive, and as you can see, I use all of them together to keep myself focused. Remember, you’re the only full-time job you will have for a lifetime. So today, I challenge you to live a bit more intentionally.