I am a huge fan of goal setting. Whether it be fitness goals, personal development goals, academic goals, goals to watch YouTube videos on how to set goals, etc., setting goals can be an invigorating way to fuel ambition. I have had a lot of success with them too. I have gone from being someone that could barely get out of bed before noon, to being able to consistently wake up at 7 a.m. during the weekdays- a small goal, certainly, but one that I have had a hard time with for years. Needless to say, however, I have also failed at many of my goals. Without a doubt, we are all familiar with goals and their intrinsic benefits, but why is it that so many of us struggle with actually accomplishing them? The answer can be summed up in two words: follow through.
We all are capable of putting our mind to just about anything, but as the days and weeks pass by, the train of momentum begins to lose its steam. Something that we were once committed to has now become dreadfully burdensome.
"It is too much work!"
"I do not have enough time today. I will start tomorrow."
"Why even try anymore? I am not seeing any progress."
Whenever I found myself using one of those excuses above, failure was often right around the corner.
So what do you do, if, like me, you struggle with following through with whatever it is you want to accomplish?
Remind yourself why it is important to you
Any goal that you want to achieve needs to have a purpose. A goal without a purpose often turns out to be extremely unfulfilling. Say for example, you decide you want to learn the piano. That is great and all, but you need to ask yourself why you want to be a piano player. It can be something as grand as wanting to become the 21st century Mozart or something as simple as having a creative outlet for yourself to de-stress on the weekends. In either case, all that matters is giving your goal a purpose. I cannot stress that enough. You will go from aimlessly failing at your goals, to reaching them faster than ever before.
Write it down
My absolute favorite and most effective means of following through is to write both my goal and its purpose down. When I say write it down, I do not just mean write it down and put it away. It needs to be visible. Check it as many times as you can to remind yourself to complete that task. And if, like myself, you have a tendency to forget to look at what you wrote down, you can do things like setting alarms on your phone as a reminder. It might sound excessive, but it is a really good cue to action. Better to be over prepared than under prepared, right?
Find an accountability partner
Nothing holds you more accountable than having another human being know what goals you have set for yourself. It is very difficult for people, especially those who have trouble following through with their goals, to have the intrinsic motivation to work toward those goals consistently. What happens is that we tend to deceive ourselves about our lack of tangible progress. But when you add another individual to the equation, to keep you on track and remind you of your goals, you develop the extrinsic motivation to prove to the other individual that you are capable of following through with your goals. As a result, an accountability partner serves as a healthy source of motivation.
So, what can you do today?
- Think of one goal you have been putting off for a very long time that you are dying to accomplish but have not found the drive to do so. Come up with one or two reasons why it is important for you to achieve that goal.
- Write it down! It has to be somewhere you are bound to see often, like a notebook you use every day, your mirror, fridge, etc. Be sure to refer to it at least twice a day.
- Find an accountability partner who is willing to keep you in check. Ask them to follow up with you at the end of each week to see how much progress you have made.