Setting goals is easy. Staying on track is the challenge. Forgive yourself if you've stalled out and use these simple steps to get back on track fast!
It happens to all of us. Repeatedly. We start a new project, a diet, exercise regimen or other lofty goal and we go all out with guns a-blazing. But then, something happens – a holiday, a life emergency, a loved one needs our undivided attention, a hurricane hits or the demands of running a household, work, managing investments or the need for downtime to rejuvenate and be with friends swallows up all available time. Or perhaps, all of the above happens simultaneously.
For every goal we set for ourselves, there are at least a hundred distractions ready to push us off track. It takes great stamina and self-discipline to push away all the distractions to work daily on our goals . . . Or maybe, it takes just a simple mindset shift and some small actions to jump-start you back onto the road of progress toward your goal.
Here are a few simple things you can do to get yourself up and running again in the direction of your goals.
Re-Evaluate Your Goal
It’s easy to set goals that we think we should be striving toward or goals that we were passionate about once but our ardor has faded. Think deeply about the goal you’ve set for yourself and, without chastising yourself for not working toward it, ask yourself WHY this goal is important for you to achieve.
Next, play the “What If?” Game. Ask yourself two questions and allow your mind to have a field day imagining the possibilities and ramifications. The first question is: What if I were to achieve this goal in the next six months, a year, or other appropriate time frame? Think optimistically about all that would unfold for you. Picture yourself already having achieved it. Imagine how you will feel once you have achieved this goal.
The second question is: What if the obstacles and challenges I must overcome to achieve this goal are more than I’m up for? Think realistically about what it will take to achieve your goal. What are the obstacles and how much effort will you have to expend to overcome them? Is it worth it?
If it turns out this particular goal is not a priority for you right now, shelve it and focus on another goal that is important to you. If you get goosebumps thinking about all the good things that will come from achieving a goal you’ve committed yourself to, then read on for more action steps!
Do Nothing (For a While)
If you aren’t working toward your desired goal, it may be because your mind and body are overwhelmed or exhausted. Taking action toward your goals requires effort. If you aren’t able to move forward, and you desperately want to, it may be because your energy is depleted. Rest, meditate, take long walks in nature or binge-watch your favorite TV series. Let your mind and body rejuvenate and replenish itself. Once you’re revitalized, you’ll likely experience renewed passion for your goals.
Keep It Hush-Hush
Have you shared your goal with family and friends? Having an accountability partner can be a wonderful thing. However, if you’ve stopped and started many times, you may have experienced the spirit-sapping judgment of others. If your family or friends don’t fully support you in your goal, their tacit, or outspoken, disapproval can sap the life right out of you. Even answering questions well-meaning people ask can drain you of the energy you need to pursue your goal.
To get to your goal, you’re going to need every ounce of energy to stay on track and move forward. Protect your goal and your self-confidence by keeping it to yourself as long as you feel necessary. You are under no mandate to share everything you are doing. A few secret surprises are good for any friendship or relationship. Won’t the achievement of your goal, or hitting a major milestone in your journey toward it, be a wonderful surprise for your family and friends?
Plan for Failure
You are only human! Getting off track is an inevitable phenomenon in pursuit of any goal. You’ve already been off track. Expect it to happen again and plan for how to deal with it. There are going to be more times when you are tired, stressed or sick. Life, family or work will again take priority. If you plan for the inevitable, you can more quickly bounce back on the road to your goal. Remember, the number of times you fall down is irrelevant. It’s getting back up and moving forward that makes a hero.
Beating up on yourself for backsliding is self-defeating. Your confidence and self-esteem are your secret weapons. Guard them with your life. Fend off the demons of self-recrimination to keep the path clear to your goal!
Change the Goal
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t seem to get back on track, you have three options:
1) Abandon the goal
As we’ve discussed, some goals turn out to be not a priority or something you are no longer passionate about. If you’ve re-evaluated and the goal is found wanting, abandon it or shelve it for a time. Then, identify a new goal!
2) Scale back the goal
Some goals are so huge, they are daunting. Scale it down to something that is more easily doable. Achieve it and you’ll still be miles ahead of where you are now. And you can set a new, bigger goal once you’ve achieved the smaller goal.
3) Chunk it up into bite-size pieces
It’s like the old adage of “How Do You Eat an Elephant?” One bite at a time. Break up that huge, oversized goal into manageable, doable chunks. You’ll revel in the euphoria of success once you’ve achieved even a small step forward! The high will fuel your next step and your next and your next.
Block Out Time to Do It
Life presents a multitude of distractions all of the time. If you’ve determined your goal is worthy and desirable and you’ve committed yourself to it, then the only thing holding you back is the time in which to work toward it. In my own life, nothing happens unless I put it on the calendar. The simple act of calendaring time for a project is self-evidence that you are committed to it. If you can’t seem to find a space to fit it in your schedule, then refer back to step number one!
Make Yourself a Priority
Ultimately, your highest priority is you. The higher your self-esteem and confidence, the better you are able to serve others as well as yourself. Setting realistic, achievable goals is a life-affirming activity. Invest in yourself and your future. By regularly setting and accomplishing goals, even small ones, you will gain the strength and energy to tackle life’s inevitable challenges.
Life is about growth. To grow, we must strive. And life is ever-so-much more interesting when you are on a journey to a stronger, wiser, more accomplished you!
Have you ever found yourself off track with your goals? What do you do to get back on track? How do you feel about yourself when you’ve achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself? Tell me what you think in the comments below!