“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
There is something magical about setting new goals in life. Probably because goals announce a change, a personal transformation. Because whether you’re chasing a new direction in life or making only a small adjustment of your current lifestyle you’re going to transform and grow from this experience. And this is probably the best part of a goal-setting process and the journey towards achievement.
Goals make life more challenging, meaningful and more satisfying. They fuel your ambition, boost your motivation and define your personal values. Not only because they give you a long-term vision but also because they help you to reach your full potential and pull your resources to make the most of your life. Furthermore, setting your goals it’s perfect if not the only way of accepting the responsibility and taking control of your life. What it means is that you decide to step up and embrace the creator role and instead of waiting for the opportunity to come you create it for yourself. And it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, because getting it “right” the first time it’s highly unlikely if not impossible. What really matters is how you grow and evolve as a person.
But there is something equally important as goal attainment that may not have occurred to you – the journey towards your goals. We tend to focus only on the final outcome, a hypothetical prize completely forgetting about the journey. Well, odd as it might seem to you, the journey matters more than your goal because it’s the process, not an outcome that fuels your personal growth. Some would even say that goal attainment is “only” a by-product of the journey.
However, regardless of what your perception of goal attainment is, I am sure that you set your goal because you expect a specific result not just any result, right? So before you begin your journey towards your goal you need a plan, an effective strategy that will help you to make consistent progress toward your goal and eventually achieve it. Without it your goal will remain only a wish with no possibility of becoming a real achievement. Besides it’s easy to feel inspired and motivated at the early beginning of the process but when your goal is complex and difficult to achieve you may lose your excitement and motivation along the way.
This five-step formula will give you the motivation and tools to help you achieve your goals. Now you can set your SMART or HARD goals and make them happen.
1. Overcome Procrastination
Overcoming procrastination and managing negative consequences of distractions will help you to focus on your goals instead of wasting your time and energy for unnecessary decisions and activities not directly related to the goal achievement.
Most common causes of procrastination:
- Overthinking and overanalyzing
While brainstorming and analyzing your goals is a good thing because it helps you to generate creative ideas for your projects, overthinking and overanalyzing every single detail leads to anxiety, emotional distress, negative thoughts and of course procrastination.
Don’t make simple things complicated by thinking about what can go wrong. Instead, make an effective schedule, prioritize your tasks, make a powerful to-do list, build your momentum and start making real progress.
We are living in a world full of distraction which makes controlling time and schedule a bit difficult. While small dose distraction can boost your productivity, inspiration, and motivation, being easily distracted makes progress impossible. That’s why it is so important to control your mind from distractions. This is how you can easily do it:
- Identify your distractions
- Turn off your distractions (Eliminate or reduce them)
- Avoid overthinking
- Don’t multitask
- Start single-task – use the “one task at a time” method
- Train your brain to focus
- Bring your stress under control
Perfectionism can be adaptive and maladaptive. Having some degree of “adaptive perfectionism” is good because it helps you to set healthy high standards for yourself, make realistic goals and boost your productivity. In contrast “maladaptive perfectionism” kills productivity, makes no room for mistakes and raises your standards beyond anything you can achieve.
So instead of trying to be perfect embrace perfectly imperfect life. Set realistic goals and healthy high standards, challenge your negative self-talk and accept the possibility of failure as an important part of the learning process.
- Lack of a clear action plan/ roadmap/ checklist for your goal
Start from breaking down complex tasks into a series of small manageable pieces, prioritize your tasks and make a to-do list. With a clear identification of the tasks, you will be able to move to action.
- Low dopamine levels in your brain
Low dopamine levels lead to a lack of motivation, poor concentration, memory loss, mood swing, lack of energy, chronic fatigue or even depression whereas it is, therefore, important to keep your feel-good hormone levels high. The safest, healthier and natural ways to increase your dopamine levels are:
- Eating foods rich in tyrosine (almonds, avocado, bananas, fish, seafood, parmesan, cheese, eggs, almonds, whole grains, chicken, turkey)
- Working out
- Quality rest
- Exposure to sunlight
- Listening to music
- Taking probiotics to improve your gut health
2. Manage Stress
Stress can be either a motivating force that pushes you to work harder, think faster and achieve your goals quicker or a destructive force that kills your productivity and ruins your health. So as you can see like most things, it depends on one’s perspective and attitude. Considering the fact that stress we cannot avoid stress because is a natural part of our life, the best options are to learn to manage it properly and used it to your advantage. Here are my 4 tips on how you can manage your stress levels so that it won’t destroy your focus and productivity:
- Reduce stress and anxiety naturally
Stressful situations are inevitable in life but we can easily reduce the amount of stress and anxiety through: exercise, sun exposure, healthy nutrition, getting quality rest, taking some day off and spending more time with your loved ones.
One of the best stress management tips I’ve ever gotten was to take care of my mental and physical health. Because until you sacrifice your sleeping hours, push yourself to the limits, feed the bad habits and fuel your negative self-talk you won’t be able to do any progress towards achieving your goals. So instead of ignoring your physical health and mental wellbeing create a healthy routine, develop positive healthy habits and adopt some positive self-care rituals to nourish your mind, body, and soul.
- Work on positive self-talk
Negative self-talk is a major contributor to stress and anxiety. Not to mention that it harms our productivity and stop you from achieving your goals. So instead of indulging in a negative inner dialog and pessimistic perception, learn to respond to your inner critic and let it get the best of you. How? Well, instead of trying to silence your inner dialog even if it’s negative self-talk take advantage of it and turn it into positive self-talk. Focus on positives and shift your perspective.
- Embrace the unknown
Well, if you try to control everything you may end up controlling nothing. So instead of desperately trying to predict every possible scenario, accept the unpredictability of life and focus on your prioritizes, build your momentum and start making real progress.
3. Stay Creative
‘Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.’ – John Cleese
Some argue that creativity is innate quality others think that it’s a soft skill that can be perfected. For me personally, creativity is the way you physically perceive and process the world. Some people wait for inspiration to be creative others can find inspiration in everything from the smell of the rain to communicating with others. Like most things, it depends on one’s perspective. But if you frequently struggle to get into a creative space you should start to train your brain to be more creative and innovative. And here are my tips on how you can easily do it:
- Get inspired
You can find an incredible source of inspiration literally everywhere you just have to adopt a hunter-gatherer behavior and observe your surroundings. Don’t wait for inspiration but find it yourself by reading self-help books, blogs, and articles or just listen to your favorite music.
We all have a creative potential we just have to find a way to unlock it and release our creative beast. The best way to do it is to get inspired through observation, connecting with nature, interacting with others and fueling your passion. Personally, I like to train my creative mind through journaling and communicating with my inner child because I really believe that our inner child is our source of creativity and infinite potential.
- Avoid Boredom
We are creatures of habit and routine. We find comfort with regularity and consistency. Healthy habits help us to reach our goals and create the best version of ourselves but if you do always the same things in the same way you will get bored. And boredom kills productivity and motivation. So if you catch yourself being bored with your project act immediately and:
- Take a small break
- Skip to another activity
- Have a good laugh
- Talk to your friends
- Declutter your space
- Get inspired
- Take a couple of a deep breaths
4. Build Consistency
Consistency creates a healthy routine, forms good habits, and builds momentum and these three ingredients are fundamental in achieving your goals. That’s why when you’re not consistent in your action most probably you won’t see results anytime soon. In contrast lack of consistency causes lack of interest, lack of motivation, boredom, confusion, and frustration because instead of moving towards your goals you’re only wasting your time and energy. Here are simple ways to achieve consistency in reaching your goals:
- Create a daily routine that works for you
- Develop productive habits
- Train your brain to be organized (challenge yourself, sustain your focus and take brakes when you need it)
- Plan for success – “Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast”
- Identify your weaknesses and challenge them
- Don’t let your self-doubt to consume you – challenge your negative self-talk
- Celebrate your achievements – even small success is a success
- Remember that more consistency leads to more achievements
5. Develop Self-Discipline
What you really need to achieve your goals is self-discipline, not motivation. While motivation is important it does not guarantee success because it’s not consistent. Of course you can easily increase your motivation but still, it will be only a temporary boost rather than a permanent state.
In contrast, self-discipline is nothing more than a habit of consistency. So if you are trying to plot your path to success you should focus primarily on building self-discipline. Certainly, building unbreakable self-discipline requires time, effort and patience but it definitely worth it. Self-discipline means control of your action, commitment to your goals, avoiding distractions, increasing your focus and boosting your productivity. Furthermore, it helps you to stick to your decisions and pushes you forward despite countless obstacles, difficulties, and failures.
Success is not a matter of luck but a result of consistent work and self-discipline.
Master the art of self-discipline:
- Increase your Accountability
- Create a priority list
- Align your goals with your purpose
- Manage your time mindfully
- Set specific goals with a hard timeline
- Develop a specific action plan toward your goals
- Value Your Worth
- Keep the inspiration going
- Track your progress and ask for feedback
- Celebrate Your Achievements
Be Mindful and achieve your goals!