Stay on Track

It’s a common scenario. You set a goal and get really amped up about reaching it. But, somewhere down the line, life happens, and you get blown off course. If this has happened to you, don’t worry. You can learn to stay on track by clarifying your goals, finding ways to stay accountable, and keeping yourself motivated.


Reaffirming Your Goals

  1. Revisit your priorities. In order to make sure you stay on track towards goal-attainment, you have to verify that your goals align with your overall vision. You can do this by clarifying your personal values and comparing them to the goals you have set.[1]
    • For instance, you may find that your most important values are family, charity, and creativity. If you set a goal to get promoted at your job in six months’ time, this goal may conflict with your values of family and creativity.
    • Take a look at your goals and see if they currently align with your personal values. Your main goals should work in conjunction with these values, not in competition.
  2. Focus on one goal at a time. If you’re striving towards several competing goals, it’s easy to get blown off course. Narrow your focus and improve your chances of success by working towards one major goal at a time. Then, break this goal down into smaller, more manageable segments that you can steadily work towards.[2]
    • For example, if you're trying to save money but also have a goal to travel, these goals might be difficult to do simultaneously. You may have to choose which one is most important to your right now.
  3. Track your progress. Attainable goals all have one thing in common: you can measure your progress. If you haven’t been tracking your advancement towards the ultimate goal, how can you know when you get there? You can’t. That’s why you need to build clear measures into your goals.[3]
    • For instance, if you set the goal “save more money,” there is no clear indicator of what that means or when you get there. “Save more money” could translate to $5 or $5000. Set goals that you can easily track, such as “Save $5000 by 6:00pm on October 27th.”
  4. Learn from setbacks. Everyone encounters obstacles while trying to reach their goals. But, if you anticipate them, you can move past these obstacles more quickly. The trick is to not dwell on the problem, but immediately focus on a viable solution.
    • When you encounter a setback, review the situation to determine what went wrong. Seek out feedback from others. Revise your plan in light of the new information you now have. Then, renew your commitment to the goal and keep going.[4]
    • For example, you ate unhealthy despite your new diet. If this happens, immediately return to the plan. Maybe it happened because you had not prepped your meals, so you can prevent it from reoccurring by always planning your meals ahead.

Holding Yourself Accountable

  1. Schedule it. Whatever your goal is, you can’t expect life to work around it. Whether you’re trying to save money, start a new career, or lose weight, you need to make your goal a top priority by carving out time for it every day. If your goal is a standing commitment in your schedule, you are more likely to stay on track.[5]
    • For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, you might include a 30-minute window for exercise in your daily calendar.
  2. Share your goals with others. A natural source of accountability for goal-completion is your social circle. Setting a personal intention only goes so far. In addition, tell someone in your network about your intentions. Friends and family can remind you to stick with your goals. They may also offer encouragement when times get tough.[6]
  3. Reduce distractions. If you don’t have measures in place to control distractions, your goals are at the mercy of your environment. Social media, unexpected phone calls and visits, and smartphone notifications compete for your attention, and usually win.
    • Work in an environment that supports productivity. Reduce clutter around your desk. Install applications that require that you complete a certain amount of work before using non-goal-oriented websites. Put your phone on silent. Hang up a “do not disturb” sign. [7]

Maintaining Enthusiasm

  1. Celebrate small successes. If you’re tackling a big goal, you may start to lose morale as time goes on. Before you know it, you are completely off track. Stay on track by setting natural milestones into your goals and celebrating when you pass them.[8]
    • For example, if you want to write a novel, you might set milestones for ten thousand words, twenty-five thousand words, and so on. When you reach each milestone, reward yourself.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. The people you spend the most time with have a significant impact on your journey to success. If you’re around the wrong people, they may distract you, expose you to temptations, or discourage your goals altogether. The right people, however, will push you to be your best self.
    • Find these people by joining clubs and organizations dedicated to your goals. For instance, if you want to lose weight, you might participate in a local Weight Watchers support group or join the MyFitnessPal online community.[9]
  3. Keep your stress in check. If you are not actively managing stress in your life, you are setting yourself up for failure. Too much stress can affect your health and lead you to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. When you have a stress management plan in place, you can keep stress in check so you stay on track with your goals. Try this:[10]
    • Get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
    • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
    • Eat real, unprocessed foods.
    • Find a hobby that you enjoy.
    • Practice relaxation exercises like deep breathing or meditation.

Sources and Citations

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