Keeping motivated to achieve our goals is something John and I have become much more familiar with this past year.  With each new goal that we set for ourselves, and in turn achieve, we become more motivated and confident that we can accomplish the next goal. The fueling power of accomplished goals is so powerful, that it actually provides you energy to tackle the next one you set for yourself.  From seeing the success of our own personal goal setting, John and I have learned that instead of telling ourselves that we wish we could do something, we absolutely can.  No matter what the dream or aspiration, with enough hard work, effort, and determination, anything is possible.  Hey, we’ve got all our past accomplishments to prove we can do it, right?

Most recently, John and I have set an incredibly large goal for ourselves that we’ve dubbed the “5-year plan”.  The 5-year plan is a compilation of very large goals, which, if accomplished, would set us up for extended nomadic world travel in 2020.  The tasks at hand may seem overwhelming and daunting at times, but here are 7 tips and tricks to keep yourself motivated and help you stay on track.

7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Yourself Motivated

1. Visualize It

It’s important to get your goals written down – whether that be on paper, or electronically, it’s something that keeps you accountable for what you’d like to achieve.  At the start of this year, John and I filled out individual goal sheets.  We marked down specific goals that we wanted to achieve in the year 2014 under a variety of categories.

The categories on our goal sheet included: Friends/Community, Career, Spirituality, Health/Wellness, Love/Partnerships, Daily Routines, Self-Expression, Home/Family, Growth/Learning, Resources/Money, Personal Appearance, and Service/Society.

We made it a point to include at least one goal under each category, and also ensured that a good percentage of them were quite challenging (I’ll talk more about challenging goals later on).  There are currently 38 goals written out on my sheet of things I’d like to accomplish in 2014, and I continue to add new ones as I set them for myself!

Don’t get discouraged if you write down a dozen seemingly overwhelming goals, either.  Break your long-term goals into smaller tasks so they’re less daunting.  John and I have our 5-year plan goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, and even daily goals of creating new habits for ourselves.  It’s vital to maintaining motivation that you don’t get overwhelmed, so remember how important it is to break down large goals into smaller, easily-achievable to-do’s.

An example of one of our Growth/Learning goals was to launch this very blog – which was accomplished as of Monday!  Another one of both of our goals is to go to the gym every work day – and we haven’t missed a day yet.  Seeing your goals written out on paper is just one way to hold you accountable and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.  If you don’t have the motivation to keep yourself on track, certainly no one else will!

2. Keep Yourself Organized

It’s important when setting goals for yourself that you keep organized.  You don’t want to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to accomplish ten major goals at once.  You can keep organized really easily with a variety of tools, some of which may seem self-explanatory like keeping a calendar, to-do lists, and having your goals written down and clearly outlined.  But, there are some up-and-coming tools that you may not have heard of yet!

Until the start of this year, I was a huge planner person.  I kept a daily planner in my purse and used it to keep track of my life.  Literally.  John and I would get into tiffs because he’d always be asking me what we had to do and what was on our schedule, and at the same time, he seemed to keep forgetting things we had planned (typical man, right?).  A shared online calendar, linked to both of our Gmail accounts was the golden ticket.  Google offers a bunch of free, useful tools that you should use to get and stay organized, and their calendar app is definitely one of them.  John and I both have shared access to the calendar, and when we’re wondering what the other person has going on, it’s super easy for us to pull it up on our computer or phone without bothering the other!  AND it’s kept us super organized and on-task with some of our major goals.

Make sure your goals have set deadlines that you want to accomplish them by, and then fill in small to-do’s on your calendar.  A great example of this is how John and I used our Google Calendar to stay on track with our Real Estate studying.  We set the goal of completing our real estate exams and getting our licenses prior to June, so with that goal in mind, we had to figure out when we’d have to finish the curriculum (by early April to allow 6-8 weeks processing time), and from there, determine how many chapters we’d have to read and practice tests we’d have to take per week.  We then filled out each specific chapter to be read on specific days on the calendar (i.e. Monday 6:00-8:00 PM, study Real Estate Chapter 1, Tuesday 6:00-8:00 PM, study Real Estate Chapter 2, etc.).  Scheduling the time on our calendar kept us accountable to get the task done.

Another great tool that John and I have been using to keep us on track with our goals is Trello.  It’s a web and phone app that acts as a virtual to-do list, but the sweet thing about it is that you can have multiple lists, to-do’s, checklists, etc, all within one platform.  It’s a great tool that John and I utilize on a daily basis to keep ourselves organized and turn large goals into smaller, achievable goals.  If it’s a tool you’ve never used, I’d highly recommend giving it a go – and it’s free, you’ve got nothing to loose!

3. If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You, They Aren’t Big Enough

Tim Ferris did a great job of explaining this concept in his book, 4 Hour Workweek, but he was able to sum it up in a paragraph that I absolutely love:

“Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal.  Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel.  If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.”

John and I have definitely experienced this in our own lives, most recently with our move across the country.  It was the largest goal we had ever set for ourselves, and entailed giving up so much for an unpredictable future.  Was it worth it?  Totally!

Setting large goals versus smaller, easily achievable ones is how you get the energy to fuel you through the annoying, daily to-do’s.  Yea, the 5-year plan may seem amazing when looking at the end goal, but when evaluating all that needs to get done between now and then to accomplish it, is where we need energy to keep us going.  The 5-year plan and our goal to travel the world long-term starting in 2020 may seem lofty, but if achieved, it will be that much more rewarding.

You may not feel like a rock star running your local 5k race, but try shooting for a marathon.  Think about the difference in energy and passion between those two goals (5k vs. marathon).  I know for a fact that after the trials and tribulations it takes to train for a marathon, let alone run one, crossing that finish line would be a feat like none other.

Set that huge goal that you don’t think you can do – and prove to yourself that you can do it.

4. Dig Deeper – Find The Reason Why

Finding the reason why you want to accomplish something will give you the purpose you need to face the challenge.  Tons of people start out the New Year with resolutions.  Using losing weight as an example, so many people tell themselves that they’re going to start working out and dieting to lose weight, but just a few weeks in, they lose the motivation to keep it going.  What causes the goal to die out?

Just losing weight isn’t very glamorous, but when your end goal is to get in shape for a marathon, or to be sexier so you get more attention from the opposite sex, or to look and feel healthier, the outcome just seems so much more appealing and rewarding.  Determining your reason why will be your driving factor in getting it done.  Without it, you’ll find yourself struggling to complete the task (after all, without your reason why, there’s no meaningful purpose).

5. Spread the Word

Telling people what you’re working towards will hold you accountable to what you want to do.  When John and I decided we were going to move to California, we set the goal for ourselves, and almost immediately began telling people of our plans.  Why?  Because those who were enthusiastic for us we obviously didn’t want to disappoint, and those that were skeptical of our journey, well… naturally, we wanted to prove them wrong.

Queuing people in to your goals is interesting for another reason, as well – it gives you a chance to hear their opinion.  We were told “you’re crazy” dozens of times before leaving Buffalo.  And look at us now.  Sometimes the fuel needed to light your fire is the doubt that other people have.  Walter Bagehot put it nicely in saying, “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”  Start telling people about your next big goal and listen to their thoughts on it – I guarantee after telling a few people, you’ll be that much more compelled to do it.

6. Be Prepared to Fail

And Fail.  And Fail again.  Like the wise man Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Read any book on a person’s journey to success – and note how many roadblocks they hit along the way.  Looking back at any goal I’ve set for myself – big or small – I’ve hit at least one, but usually many, challenges along the way.

Another thing to note is that you have to be comfortable adjusting your course if things don’t go according to plan.  Don’t be hard on yourself if you didn’t get four chapters of studying done in one week; instead re-rout your course of action so you can get your task done without getting overwhelmed.

7. Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself Along the Way

One of the things that I personally struggle with, and strive to be better at every day, is to “stop and smell the roses”.  It’s great to have set goals for yourself, time-lines to follow, and to-do lists to keep you in check, but remember again the reasons why you are setting goals for yourself in the first place.

With each new thing that you accomplish, take a moment to reflect on all the hard work it’s taken for you to get to this point – and bask in the rewards of it!  It takes hard work and lots of effort to achieve a goal, so make sure you’re rewarding yourself along the way!

Treat yourself to something special when you need a pick-me-up.  Remind yourself of your end goals when you’re feeling discouraged and reflect on all that you’ve done that’s gotten you to this point.  If you need a day to rejuvenate and get your creative juices flowing, take a day.  Take breaks.  Have fun.   The positive results will follow.

Thoughts

These are just 7 examples of tips and tricks to keep yourself motivated; what are some ways that you stay motivated?  Have you used any of the tips or tricks we suggested?  Tell us about your goals in the comments below, we’d love to hear them!

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