Everyone sets goals for themselves but most people never even come close to achieving them. They start off strong enough but then quickly lose interest or burn out and quit.
Why is it that some people can keep chugging along until they reach their goals while so many others fall flat on their faces?
They have learned to become masters of motivation.
The key to successfully accomplishing goals is simply staying motivated and continuously working to achieve them.
This is a problem I understand all too well. As a freelance writer and blogger trying to turn a side gig into a full-time source of income, I know how hard it is to stay motivated day in and day out. Working on my business at night and on weekends is often difficult and draining. While other people are lounging on their coach wasting time on Facebook or watching Golden Girls re-runs, I’m busy working until I’m too tired to see straight.
I’m far from perfect and there are still times where I struggle to stay motivated. But for the most part I’ve learned to fight away the laziness and keep plugging away toward my goals. Here are some tips you can use to help you stay motivated and focused.
Remind Yourself What You’re Working For
Surround yourself with things that inspire you and remind you why you’re working so hard. When you’re getting tired and having trouble concentrating, you need something to kick you in the butt and remind you what your struggle is all about. Pictures, mementos, and quotations can all serve as motivation.
My goal is to quit my day job so I can work from home full-time. I want to enjoy a more flexible schedule and be free to spend more time with my family. Naturally, my home office is filled with pictures of my family as well as drawings and artwork given to me by my kids and a screenshot taken from an episode of The Simpsons. Looking at these helps me remember the end goal and it keeps me plugging away when all I want to do is crash.
Think about what your ultimate goal is and then set up something to remind yourself why it is so important to you. Whenever you’re tempted to quit, take a few minutes to look them over and I guarantee you’ll receive a sudden burst of energy to help you keep going.
Take a Break
Of course, you’re not a robot either and you can’t continue working yourself too hard or you’ll quickly burn out. The human brain doesn’t function particularly well when it isn’t well-rested (as a father of three I know this all too well).
Trying to build a successful business is hard work and it requires many late nights and weekends spent working. But you need to learn how to differentiate being tired and being burnt out. Tired means you can make yourself a cup of coffee and keep going. Burnt out means you need to take a break and recharge or you’ll just be wasting your time by continuing to work. If you can’t concentrate and the quality of your work suffers, what’s the point?
One way to keep motivated and avoid burn out is to set boundaries between work and play. This is often easier said than done for us entrepreneurs who constantly find ourselves thinking about business.
The problem with that is your family life will suffer. If you’re having dinner with your family and your kids are telling you about their day at school you should be focusing a hundred percent of your energy on them. If you’re only half listening because you’ve got business concerns bouncing around in your head then you’re doing them a disservice.
Try coming up with a schedule and rules for splitting time between work and family. Make a rule that you won’t go on the computer until the kids are tucked into bed. Set a date night with your spouse where no work is allowed. Your family will appreciate these times where you can give them your full attention and they will also be more understanding when you need to set some time to get work done too.
Set Small, Achievable Goals
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu
Let’s say your goal is to run a marathon, but right now you can’t even run more than 100 feet without getting winded. As you struggle to make it to the first mile marker, you realize how far you are from your goal and naturally you get discouraged and lose motivation. You’re very likely to give up.
The problem here is that you’re focused solely on the final goal which is too far to even imagine right now. In your current physical shape, being able to finish a marathon is so far beyond reality that you might as well dream of walking on Mars.
So rather than focusing on the marathon and immediately disappointing yourself, set smaller goals that you will be able to achieve. If you’re struggling to run a half mile, make running one mile your first goal. Keep track of your progress and when you are able to make it one mile make it your new goal to run two miles.
Breaking a large project or goal into smaller chunks makes the entire process more manageable. Each time you achieve one of your mini goals you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and momentum will continue carrying you on until you finally reach your final goal.
Okay, this one actually makes five but consider it a bonus. As you make your way from one mini goal to the next, it is important to take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment and reward yourself.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. It can be as simple as a cup of coffee, a trip to the movies, or sleeping in an extra twenty minutes. These rewards may seem little but they will motivate you to keep going until you reach the next milestone and another reward.