It happens to all of us – you’re making progress on a project, learning something new, or perhaps keeping with exercise or a diet, and then things start to go sideways. Your motivation gradually fades as the year progresses until your progress has come to a halt and then goals have been shelved. With autumn looming, now is the time to reassess your goals and ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to create good discipline habits that will allow you to succeed. Be they business or pleasure, persistence is the most important quality. After all, all your hard work to date will have been for nothing if you quit now!
Here at Bartercard, we know a thing or two about staying true to your goals. Continue reading to learn our secret!
Why do we fail to stick to our goals?
When we stray from our projects, goals, and commitments, it’s often because something (or some things) are affecting our mood in a way that diminishes our determination. There are four key reasons why we fail to stick to our goals.
- Interruptions – Travel, illness, visitors, crises, and other interruptions can make us feel discouraged. The interruption itself is not the obstacle. The real issue is that we tend to knock certain priorities down a peg anytime something new pops up.
- Exhaustion – Illness, lack of sleep or a proper routine, travel, and other distracting factors can wear us out. Exhaustion is a known motivation killer that can derail challenging habits or projects. When we’re tired, we often turn to the easier – but ultimately less rewarding – comforts of idle distractions and food (among other things).
- Lack of progress – We naturally want to see a reward for our efforts, but some projects, commitments, and habits don’t yield immediate results. A diet and exercise can take months or even years to really transform your body. Endeavours such as learning a new language can require a lot of toil and discipline before any progress worth celebrating is made. In cases such as these, where the fruits of your labour are particularly back-loaded, you may find that your commitment gets progressively difficult for some time before it gets better. Sticking it out to the end is the only way to truly reap what you’ve sown.
- Busy schedules – Let’s face it – we’re all busy people. Sometimes more immediate obligations can pile up, taking priority from our passion projects or less measurable ambitions.
All these challenges can combine to negatively impact our mood and our state of mind. When we feel down, we feel like quitting. We try to avoid thinking about the problem and find something that can give us comfort now. It’s the age-old adage of sweeping our problems under the rug, but deep down we know that it pays to see our commitments through to the end. If we didn’t know that, we wouldn’t feel so guilty about our lack of motivation.
So, how do you get back on track?
- Admit that motivation is a struggle – We often want to avoid thinking about our struggles, but this only encourages quitting and does nothing to improve ourselves. What we need to do is admit our guilt to ourselves, admit that we are discouraged and want to quit. Then we can ask ourselves, “Do I really want to quit, or is there a good reason to get back on track?”
- Take small, attainable steps toward your goal – If you have good reason to get back on track, don’t think about the scope of the entire project. Overwhelming yourself can send you tumbling back to square one. Instead, think only of the next step. Break the goal down into smaller, more attainable tasks and focus on one thing at a time. Ticking these smaller goals off one at a time can fill you with a sense of accomplishment that motivates you to continue.
- Focus on your successes – If you get in a solid five minutes of work, a few reps at the gym, a tiny component of that model you’re building, then you’ve accomplished something. That should be considered nothing other than a success! Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. They make the journey worthwhile, elevate your mood, and motivate you to continue. Don’t be afraid to share your victories with others!
- Build long-term strength with short-term goals – Eventually, those little victories will add up to something grander. Take small steps, nurture your mood with rewards for progress. You’ll start to build a more solid habit and motivation to see your project over the finish line. After a while, your discipline will become more robust and little defeats will impact you less severely. You’ll be able to withstand a little exhaustion every now then. Interruptions or busy schedules won’t derail you. The strength to sustain your goals and projects will be built one small step – one small victory – at a time.
Build a big future for your business with small victories today
If you’re wearing many hats at once, particularly if you’re a small business owner, focusing on smaller, short-term successes can bring your bigger picture into focus. Set short-term goals that can set your business up to increase profits and retain customers in the long-haul, and contact Bartercard to learn more about how those goals can be met.
For more tips, why not check out our free eBook, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Small Business Owners.