As someone who has been searching for motivation for years and for a fool-proof way to achieve her goals, I’ve asked myself these questions a lot:
How do I find motivation? How do I finish things when I keep wanting to float from project to project and start the next big thing, but I have a hard time finishing the goals I actually start?
Well, I recently found a new system that has helped me A) Find motivation to accomplish my goals, even when the going gets tough, and B) Actually finish the goals I start, so I get that rewarding sense of self-accomplishment afterwards. This is good stuff.
I’m happy to share my tips with you. I’ll walk you through the steps it takes to create and start a goal as well as how to finish everything you set your mind to. I’ll even give you a glimpse into my own life and share with you how this system is helping me accomplish an important goal I’ve set for myself as well. Here is my system to finding motivation and time to accomplish any goal you set your mind to.
1. Write your goals down.
For this, grab a pen and piece of paper or write it on your computer. But it is important to write your goals down. It does something to your brain when you see your goals out on pen and paper or in black and white on a computer screen. It makes you think “Yeah, I can do that!”
For this exercise, write down a long-term goal, a few short-term goals, and a weekly goal.
A long-term goal is the BIG goal that you want to accomplish.
A short-term goal is anything that will get you closer to your long-term goal and something you can accomplish in about 1-6 months.
Your weekly goals are the steps you will take to get there, sort of like the bread-and-butter, or the stepping stones of goal-making. These are steps you will take every week to get you closer to your goals.
Write down: A) The goal and B) The time it will take you to accomplish the goal.
Long-term goal (AKA the “Big Goal.”)
I want to serve in the United State’s Military. This is my BIG goal, and something I want to accomplish in the next two years.
Sometimes your big goal might take more than two years; it might even take ten years depending on the goal! Any amount of time is perfect for what you want to achieve. Don’t let how long something takes get in the way of you achieving it. You are worth all the time and effort it takes to go for your goals.
Some examples: graduating college, becoming a famous musician, performing on Broadway, getting in better shape, eating healthier, finding a better job, gaining more friends, moving to a new city, changing careers, finishing high school, getting a license to practice hair, massage therapy, nails, etc. The sky’s the limit! Go for your dreams!!
Next up, your short-term goal. This is a milestone that will get you closer to your long-term goal. These should be able to be accomplished in about 1-6 months each.
My first short-term goal is to pass the ASVAB and go through MEPS. Basically what this means is to pass the academic test that qualifies you for a job in the military and to go through the medical screening test.
I plan to accomplish this goal in 3 months. The steps I would need to take to accomplish this goal are: to study for the ASVAB (which is the academic test), to talk to my recruiter, and also to set up a time to go in for the medical screening MEPS.
My next short term goal would be to pass the Personal Training Test, or PST. This is the first step into military training if you pass the PST and meet all the other medical and academic requirements.
I plan to accomplish this within 6 months. My short term fitness goals in order to complete this short-term goal are: To run 1.5 miles in 8:50 minutes. To do 110 push-ups in two minutes. To do 115 crunches in two minutes. To do 50 pull-ups in two minutes. To swim 500 yards in 8:15.
My last short-term goal is to start training for bootcamp. For this, my goals are: 6-mile ocean swim. 20 mile run on concrete. 16 mile run on sand. To get better at obstacle courses. To get used to swimming in ocean waters 55 degrees F and below. To build upper body strength and neck strength so that I can carry boats on my head and carry logs. To build all-around body strength that will help me become stronger to succeed at bootcamp. To build mental toughness so that I will never back down from my goals, any goal.
I plan to accomplish this goal within 6 months after I finish the prior goal, which is boosting my fitness in order to exceed PST standards. In order to accomplish this, I will do personal training, cross-training, building strength, increasing stamina, going to obstacle courses, swimming in the ocean, practicing holding my breath and “drown proofing” exercises, running on sand, running on concrete, and building mental toughness by consistently going after my goals and pushing past fear in all areas of my life. And swimming in 55 degree water (fun!).
Next up, write down your weekly goals.
These are the most important.
These are the goals you will accomplish every week and the steps you will take every single day to get to your dream.
A weekly goal looks like this:
What are you going to do every day Sunday-Monday this week to accomplish your goal? What is one weekly goal that you want to get closer to by the end of the week to further your progress towards your big goal?
Here are mine:
For the week of March 18-25, my weekly goal is to run an entire mile without stopping and run it in 7:20 minutes. And to eat healthy food and eat enough calories every day this week, as well as drinking 10 glasses of water each day.
In order to meet this weekly goal and also my short term goals of getting more fit, I will break my week into these sections:
Monday. Running. 1 mile warm-up, practice timed 1 mile run. Then do distance running, 8 miles. Group fitness classes.
Tuesday. Go to the gym. 1 mile run. Swimming.
Wednesday. Go to the gym. 1 mile run. Swimming laps.
Thursday. Go to the gym. 1 mile run. Swimming laps.
Friday. Go to the gym. 1 mile run.
Saturday: Swimming and running, distance running.
Sunday: Day of rest.
This is my schedule, and it is vitally important to my success.
Without a schedule, my dreams would just be dreams.
But with a schedule, I can see the exact steps on how to meet my goal.
Now you try it!
What is your Big Dream? What is your long-term goal?
What are two-three short-term (1-6 month) goals that can help you achieve that?
What is a goal for this week and what does your weekly schedule look like for accomplishing this goal?
2) Stick to your schedule no matter what.
The answer to the question “How do I find motivation and stick to something long enough to meet my goals?” is a simple answer.
It is: create a schedule (like we did in step 1) and stick to it no matter what.
It’s simple to do. All you have to do is show up every single day and put in the effort. Some days it will be easy and fun. Some days it will be difficult and you’d rather be in bed. Trust me, I know. But the only way is to show up every single day.
There are some things that you can do to strengthen your mindset so that it changes into one that never gives up on your goals, stays motivated even during the hard days, and finds joy in the journey even when things get difficult.
Here is how I stick to my schedule by creating a positive mindset:
3) Create a motivated mindset
So great job, you’ve got your Big Goal: long term goal, short-term goals, weekly goals, and daily schedule for accomplishing those goals. Now I’m going to talk about what to do to find motivation to do your goals and keep the motivation when things get tough.
This is all about mindset, and it’s important.
The first part of this is to have constant reminders of why you are going after this goal that you can pull out and remind yourself of why you want this dream when things get hard. Trust me, you’ll need this.
1. Write down your reason for this goal and what inspired you to reach for this dream.
For me, I want to serve in the United State’s Military because I want to use my skills in combat and fitness to serve and protect others.
2. Write down a saying or mantra to encapsulate that, one that will inspire you every time you think about it.
My favorite saying that gets me through hours of training is a Navy SEAL common motto, “The only easy day was yesterday.” Regardless of which military branch I decide to join or which job I choose in the military, I write this on my arm almost every single day because it reminds me that the days don’t get easier, you get tougher. This saying has been the one saying that gets me in the gym, especially on days I don’t want to go.
On days when I’m just not feeling it or I don’t want to go practice push-ups after working out for 4 hours, I’ll say to myself, “You got this. Did you think this would be easy? The only easy day was yesterday. Now get out there and practice more.”
It works for me.
3. Find a picture that inspires you and put it in a place you will see everyday.
Having a visual representation of why you want to accomplish your goals will work wonders. I have two pictures that inspire me on a daily basis. One is an inspirational photo that I put on the screen of my phone that I see every time I check my phone : )
The other is one is of a military graduation ceremony. I picture myself amongst them, celebrating our graduation!
Now it’s your turn. Write these down and go find a picture that inspires you. Print them out and put them in a place you will see everyday.
Write down your reason for this goal and what inspired you to reach for this dream.
Write down a saying or mantra to encapsulate that, one that will inspire you every time you think about it.
Find a picture that inspires you and put it in a place you will see everyday.
The next three steps are very important to your success. This is when you write down everything that could get in the way of your goals, and you make a plan to get over those things.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you: “Going after your goals can be hard sometimes. There will be things that can set you back and make you feel discouraged. Instead of giving up, reassess your plan and make a new plan that helps you get over the things that will hold you back. You’ve got this!”
Write down the things that you know will get in the way of your goals. Specifically, what are the thoughts in your mind and actual obstacles in your life that will get in the way of your goals? Write them down.
For me, it’s the simple fact that it’s been hard for me to eat enough calories to sustain so many hours working out. I need upwards of 3,000 calories for the amount of physical activity I’ve been doing, but recently I have slipped and only been eating a fraction of that. Why? First of all is mindset. I will start to get a negative mindset and think “Your life is better here in America, why would you want to leave?” And then I start missing snacks and my diet starts slipping. The second reason is that I just don’t like food that much. It feels like a boring chore to me to eat all those calories. So I just don’t, I’ll eat barely enough to get by. Just enough that it is considered an okay amount but nowhere near enough the amount that I should be eating because I’m working out so much.
This is bad. I did this two weeks ago where I was still working out hard but only eating a small percentage of the calories I should have been eating. Guess what happened? I ended up missing an entire NINE days the next week because I missed so many meals the week prior. NINE DAYS. That’s 25-30 HOURS of working out missed because I needed more than an entire week to keep eating and make up for the calories deficit I had put myself in.
So I’ve got to be honest. Mindset is everything. And KNOW the thing that is your weakness, because it WILL rear its ugly head and try to drag you down.
Here’s what I did to combat this setback and how you can foresee your setbacks and combat them as well.
A) Write down a saying or mantra to help you get through it. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This is the best thing for improving your mindset. I have two, one that I made up and one that is a popular saying. (If you want to create your own or use one that is a common saying, do whichever works for you, or both like me!)
The first one I have never spoken out loud to another human being, but I’ll share it with you because I want to help you guys. 🙂 It’s, “Swim like a fish, eat like a shark.”
I teach marine biology, so I know that sharks eat huge meals and then go without eating for long periods of time. That is a perfect analogy. (I practice intermittent fasting, so I only eat during a 4 hour window every day. Don’t worry, it’s safe and Dr. recommended, but I have to make sure that when I eat, I am getting all my nutrients and calories in.) So the analogy of a shark works perfectly. Eat a lot of food just like a shark would.
The next mantra I have that helps me keep my mindset positive and prevents me from feeling bad is: “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” –Goi Nasu.
I always like to add a second part that I made up, “So I don’t care if you have to take a TEASPOON and bail that water out, get that water out of the ship!”
Basically, to me that encourages me to keep a strong mental attitude and to get any negative thoughts OUT of my head when they surface. They don’t belong in this ship! And they will NOT bring me down!
Also, there WILL be people who will want to ruin your goal. DO NOT LET THEM! Don’t let them get into your head. It seems that there are always people who are “close” to us: family, friends, teachers, acquaintances, who will NOT believe in our goals and dreams. They will try to bring you down. Do not let them. They may say negative words, but every time they do, just say, “These are my goals and dreams. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not changing my dreams. I’m going to go after the life I want. I would appreciate if you supported me. But if you don’t, that doesn’t change my dreams or the fact I will KEEP working for my dreams.” Do not let them affect your mindset, just stay focused on your dreams! (And contact me here for a complimentary one hour coaching session on how to get the negative voices from others out of your own head. I specialize in helping people with this.)
B) If there is anything you can do differently in your life that will help you overcome the obstacle, write it down and start implementing it.
Do you need to rearrange your schedule so that it is easier to practice on a daily basis? Do you feel overloaded and need help with homework so you have more time to practice for your goal?
Create an actual plan that will help you with this. For example, if you have to do school work and feel too tired after school work to reach your goal, try doing the work for your goal earlier in the afternoon, and then do the homework. Or if you know that it is difficult to understand the homework, try hiring a tutor, going to a study group, or asking the teacher if you have any questions.
That’s just an example, but you get the point. As you work towards your goal, things will want to get in the way of your goal. Your schedule, homework, family obligations, even time with friends will take up time in your schedule, so just make sure to look at every obstacle and make a plan to overcome each one, such as rearranging your schedule on weekends so you can still practice and also spend time with your friends.
For me, I found that if I make a list of all the food I’ve eaten that day and how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat each meal has, then I can know how well I’ve done and how much more I need to eat that day. Trust me, it takes more time to do this, but it saves me from missing a week of exercise and working towards my goal, so it’s worth it.
Your turn! What are some things you can see in your schedule, mindset, or other commitments that could keep you from reaching your goals? Make a plan to overcome them. (If you need to change your plan later or if other challenges come up, which they will, that is totally fine, just make a new plan as often as you need it. You can do it!!)
C) Reward yourself for the small and the big goals you accomplish. Did you accomplish your goals for the day? And for the week? Give yourself a small reward at the end of every goal, even your daily goals, and you will see that your motivation will increase.
At the end of every gym session, I like to spend 5 minutes laying down and relaxing in the gym’s sauna. It’s simple and a nice way to reward myself for a hard workout. I also like to listen to fun music and make workouts fun. Another reward for me is buying new gym clothes so I feel good about myself.
What are some rewards that you can give yourself for accomplishing small goals and big goals? Write them down. “When I accomplish this goal, I will give myself _________________ as a reward for my hard work.”
But what do I do when I feel like I’m failing at my goal?
I’ve had this problem multiple times. Especially last week, when my goal was to exercise every day but I ended up taking multiple days off. I felt discouraged, and I felt like I’d never make it. But then I kept these few facts in mind and started to encourage myself and get up and get back on the right track:
The first thing that I like to keep in mind is this quote from Tony Robins:
“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying”
I know some weeks will be hard and it feels like you are not reaching your goal, but keep trying. Have you ever heard the expression: “Fall down 7 times, get up 8 times”? It’s the same with setting goals. This means that it’s okay to fail and feel like you are failing, just make sure to NEVER GIVE UP.
You can really never “fail” a goal unless you give up. As long as you are trying, you are winning.
Sometimes, you need to find a new way to approach a goal:
If you need to change your schedule around, do it. If you need to give yourself better rewards for accomplishing small tasks, do it. (This helps a lot, especially for things I don’t want to do. If I know I have a cool reward at the end of it, like buying myself something cool and going shopping, then I am more motivated to achieve that small goal.) If you need to hire someone to help you learn more or reach your goal, do it. If you need to change your mindset and adopt a more positive mindset, do it! Just whatever you do, don’t give up!
Sometimes, we feel that we should automatically be good at everything we try, even if we are just starting. It used to make me feel extremely anxious when I would try something and I would be bad at it. I felt that I had to be amazing at everything I tried- as soon as I tried it! (Such as writing music. I’ve been trying to sharpen my music skills, but even now, I’m not as good as I’d like to be. It makes me nervous that I am so BAD at something- well it’s kinda funny how bad I am, to be honest- but I now know that it’s okay to be bad at something as long as I never give up and I keep trying my best.
A quote from Adventure Time’s Jake the Dog says it best:
“Dude, sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.”
Lastly, I have to remind myself that it gets easier. Yes, some days will be difficult. But I promise you, if you keep working at your goal and never give up, it will get easier. Another quote I like is from the show Bojack Horseman. In this scene, he is running and he feels like he can’t make it anymore. He wants to just give up. Then, an experienced runner speaks to Bojack. He is someone who has probably been where Bojack has been and wanted to quit multiple times but who kept on pushing through and became a good runner. He tells him that it gets easier. You have to do it every day, but it gets easier:
Also, make sure to celebrate yourself and the fact that you are taking the steps to accomplish your goal! It takes a lot of courage to go after a goal, especially when we are afraid of failing. You are doing a big and courageous thing, and every step you take gets you closer to it. Remember to celebrate yourself and everything you have accomplished up to this point, as well as your courage to continue achieving this goal. You’re doing amazing!
I am so proud of you for going for your dreams! It takes courage, guts, and a lot of commitment, and I am happy for you for taking those steps.
Don’t let anything get in your way. Find joy in the journey. Yes, not all the days will be easy, but you will become a better and more committed person by going after your goals.
Goals give your life meaning and allow you to work for something that will make you want to wake up in the morning.
Don’t let anything stop you. Go for your dreams with reckless abandon.
And if you want to work with me one-on-one to help create a Battle Plan to help you achieve your goals, keep your mindset strong, and conquer all setbacks so you can live your calling, contact me here for a complimentary Battle Plan Session. This is a free one, hour session where I help you write down your goals, create a positive mindset, and plan your life so you are on the road for success. What are you waiting for? Your best life is waiting for you! Book a complimentary session with me here: