If you read this blog regularly, you know that goal setting is one of my FAVORITE topics to talk about! Goals are inherently challenging, but they become even more so when they’re long-term goals and will take us months, if not years, to achieve. Though these tend to be the biggest goals that will have the greatest impact on your life, it can be really difficult to stay focused on something for that long, and our motivation is bound to slip a bit. In this post, you’ll find some action items for making your goals better and staying motivated to reach those long-term goals.
HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED TO ACHIEVE LONG-TERM GOALS
Make Them SMARTER
So what kind of goals should you be setting? This isn’t just about throwing out arbitrary goals, but setting realistic goals and coming up with a plan to meet them. In other words, you want to set SMARTER goals. And just what are SMARTER goals?
- Specific: The more specific your goals, the better. Don’t just set a goal of earning money with your side hustle. Set a goal of earning $1,000/month from your side hustle within the first year (that’s just an example, the actual number will vary person to person).
- Measurable: The progress of this goal can be easily tracked. $1,000/month is very specific – you’ll know for sure if you’ve reached it or not! And once you know how much you want to make per month, you know what your daily and weekly goals should be!
- Attainable: While setting your goals high is awesome, make sure it’s something you can actually accomplish. Consider what will be required of you to complete this goal, and carefully consider whether you have that to give.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal is in harmony with your core values and what you’re working toward in life. If your ultimate dream is to work from home full-time, then setting a goal of $1,000/month in the first year is awesome because you’re totally moving in the right direction!
- Time Bound: Don’t make the time frame for reaching your goals open-ended. We tend to take as long to accomplish a task as we are allowed. If your goals are completely open-ended, they may never seem urgent enough to get to. As you can see, we set a time frame of one year in the goal we’re using as an example.
- Exciting: Let’s be real, it’s going to be a lot easier to make time to work on goals that excite and inspire you. Emotions are a big factor when it comes to goal-setting, and you’re far more likely to reach for things that excite you.
- Routine Bound: I firmly believe that creating routines and habits is the absolute best way to make changes in your life. Incorporating your goal into your daily routine ensures you’re making time for it and gives you a MUCH better chance of reaching it. For example, you might say that every evening you get home from work at 6 pm and work on your online business until 8 pm. It becomes a daily routine and ensures you’re putting in the time to reach that $1,000/month goal.
Break Them Down Into Small, Manageable Steps
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to reach a long-term goal is looking at the goal as one large, singular task. When you’re talking about something that is going to take months, a year, or more, it’s important to break the goal down into smaller, more bite-sized pieces. This will help you get some guidance on what you should be working on to reach your goal, and you’ll get additional motivation each time you get to cross something off the list.
When I’m trying to reach a big goal, I start with the goal and then I write down EVERY single task I can think of that is going to get me to that goal. Seriously, I write down everything.
For example, let’s you’re trying to lose a certain amount of weight. Make a list of EVERY action you’re going to take to get there. I mean REALLY specific. Like every Monday, you’ll go for a run. Every Tuesday, you’ll do a strength-training workout. On Sundays, you’ll go grocery shopping and prep your meals. These should be things you can put on your to-do list for a specific day!
I find accountability to be really beneficial when it comes to long-term goals because when all else fails and you’ve lost your motivation, having some accountability measure in place can help jump-start your motivation, or at least push you to follow through on your goal, even if reluctantly.
For a long time, I shared monthly goals on the blog, which really helped me stay accountable to my audience. Even now that I don’t share those posts, I feel an accountability to my audience because they expect to see new posts from me regularly.
It might help to find an accountability partner (a great strategy when it comes to fitness goals) or simply sharing your goals with someone else. Just knowing that someone else will know when you slip up can be a big motivator.
When it comes to long-term goals, it’s easy for your motivation to wane or for your goal to slip your mind. So for my big goal, I like to talk about it as OFTEN as possible with my people (mom, significant other, best friend). This helps ensure it is ALWAYS top of mind.
Know Your Why
First of all, I think knowing your why is super important for staying motivated. It helps to look at what the final result might be rather than the hurdle in front of you. When it comes to blogging, sometimes the individual tasks can seem quite tedious, but reminding myself of my long-term blogging goals and why I want to reach those goals helps me to refocus and makes the task at hand seem more important.
In addition to creating motivation, I also think knowing your why helps to vet out the good goals from the bad. I do feel that we sometimes set arbitrary goals without really having a purpose behind them, and forcing yourself to identify why you’re setting a goal may help to avoid a goal that isn’t worthwhile.
For a long time I found myself completing certain blogging tasks simply because I read an article that said I should. I wasted SO much time on these useless little tasks! Once I really narrowed in on my why, I was able to narrow my to-do list to ONLY tasks that would ultimately get me to my goal.
Track Your Progress
When it comes to long-term goals, tracking your progress is essential for staying motivated and staying on track. Not only does this give an indicator as to whether you’re on track with your goal deadline or whether you need to make some changes to your goal strategy.
Tracking your progress can also be great for motivation because you’ll get excited each time you hit a major milestone and are one step closer to reaching your goal.
There are SO many different ways you can do this. There are tons of apps that will help you to track progress toward goals. Otherwise, something as simple as a notebook or spreadsheet will do the trick!
Change Your Habits
When it comes to long-term goals and lifestyle changes, I find that changing habits is the most effective way to go about it. It makes accomplishing your goal easier because the steps have simply become second nature to you. Also, if you’re hoping to make a permanent lifestyle change, it helps to keep going with it long after you’ve finished your goal.
For example, let’s say you’re a runner. Running a marathon is certainly an ambitious and worthwhile goal, but it has an end-date. If what you’re really after is wanting to become a runner, then it makes more sense to make running a habit and a regular part of your routine so that once the marathon has come and gone, the running habit remains. This doesn’t only apply to fitness goals either – you could apply it to any goal!
Seek Out Motivation
I know in the past I’ve cautioned against comparing yourself to others who are several steps ahead of you, but in some cases, it can be a great motivator. There’s a reason why fitness Instagram accounts are so popular! People who are struggling with their own fitness goals can look to others who have already reached theirs (or those who are currently striving toward the same goal) and find motivation through them.
I find I’m really motivated by surrounded myself with people who are living the dream I’m trying to accomplish!
However, it’s important that you only continue this if you actually find it to be a positive motivator, and not if you find yourself comparing your own success and feeling down on yourself.
BEFORE YOU GO
Make sure to check out these other posts you might like on Refined Revelry!
- 7 Things to Do on Sunday For a More Productive Week
- How to Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve
- How to Start a Side Hustle and Make Money From Home
And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE 6-day goal setting challenge where I teach you to set goals and create a long-term action plan to ensure you reach those goals!