Do you remember the new year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of this year? What are they? How are you faring in them right now? If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve long abandoned those goals. Some of you may not even recall what goals you have set. Which is unfortunate, because goal setting works; it has never failed anyone. The only reason why goals would stop working is because the person who has set the goals, i.e. you, chose to give up on them mid-way.
During the past few years, I’ve been working relentlessly on my goals – be it blogging, setting up my new business, improving my diet, losing weight, making like-minded friends, improving my relationship with my parents, and so on. Over the course of the past 2.5 years, I’ve made significant progress on those goals.
For example, I lost about 7-8kg this year and am at my desired weight today. I’ve switched from an unhealthy, junk food diet to a healthy, vegan diet which I’m proud of today. I created my personal development blog, and built it from 2 readers a day (me and my good friend) to over 600k page views/month – making it one of the top personal development blogs online. I’ve created a successful business out of my passion in personal development and am earning a steady, passive income from it. I resolved a deep-seated emotional eating issue which I’ve been struggling with the past decade. My previously sour relationship with my parents has dramatically improved for the better in the past 2 months.
I’m not sharing the above to distance myself from you, or to put myself on a pedestal. Quite the opposite – I’m sharing the above to let you know that because I’ve achieved my goals, you can achieve your goals too, no matter what they are. It’s all a matter of staying focused.
If you constantly get distracted in your goal pursuits, here are 8 tips I have for you to stay focused:
- Concentrate on 1-3 goals
If you constantly have trouble keeping to your goals, maybe you’re spreading yourself too thin. Pick 1-3 goals that are most important to you, and stick to them. Don’t bother yourself with any other goals until these goals are achieved (or unless priorities shift and these goals no longer reflect what you want in life).
For me, my top priority goal is to reach out to more people through my blog, so I ensure all my daily actions ladder up to this one goal. Majority of my time in the week is spent either writing new articles for the blog, maintaining my facebook and twitter account, maintaining the blog and forums, processing my emails or creating upcoming plans. If I’m caught up with something else for a long period of time, it’s a cue to me that I’m off-track.
Such laser focus has allowed me to make much more progress, compared to when I juggle across 4-5 goals and make little progress in them.
- Create a vision board
A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board helps you to visualize your end goals more clearly, which inevitably inspires you to take consistent action. Not only that, it also serves to remind you of your goals every day when you see the board. I’ve a vision board in my bedroom which I see every time I’m in my room. Every time I see my board, it reinforces my goals to me, and reminds me to take action so as to move forward.
If you’ve yet to create your vision board, I’ve created a video tutorial which you may find helpful: How to create your vision board.
- Create milestones
If you just set one huge goal, it can be discouraging – especially when you don’t achieve it after a short while. When that happens, some people may procrastinate on the goal altogether – which is quite unfortunate. I find it’s helpful to break a big goal into smaller goals, after which you concentrate on achieving the smaller goals in the short-run. Just like when you go on a long road-trip – You set pit-stops to rest/recuperate throughout the trip.
- Create a plan
If you have a plan worked out for your goal, it becomes much easier to stick to it. All you have to do is to follow the actions you have planned for the day. The best time to work out your plan is when you set the goal, because that’s when your motivation is the highest. Usually, I create my goal action plans right after I set my goal, after which I take action immediately – which helps create a positive momentum.
- Track your results
It’s important for me to track the results of what I do, because otherwise it feels like my actions are not making a difference. Hence, every time I work on a goal, I will identify 1-2 performance metrics, then track those metrics daily/weekly. They are my connection to the end goal, because they let me know whether I’m on track or off track, which in turn lets me know whether to tweak my actions or not.
- Have goal buddies
Goal buddies are people who share similar goals with you. They help to remind you about your goal, spur you on when you feel unmotivated, give you new ideas on how to achieve your goal, keep you on track, among others. Your goal buddies can be your friends, or people whom you meet in interest groups. Since you already share similar interests, it’ll be easy to find people with the same goals.
- Start a journal documenting your goal pursuit
Having a blog or private diary to document your goal pursuit can be a therapeutic experience. A lot of times, we abandon our goal pursuits because we get frustrated mid-way and we are not sure what to do about that. However, when we write out our thoughts, it helps us to get clarity on our issues and renews our interest in the goal. Many readers at my blog created their life journals in the blog forums and have found that to be tremendously helpful in keeping them focused on their goals.
- Be clear on why you’re pursuing the goals
If you keep giving up on your goals halfway, perhaps you were never serious in them to begin with. For me, if I’m really serious about a goal, I’d never give up on it – I’d keep hammering away at it, regardless of the obstacles, until they give way and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor.
I once had a coaching client who would embark on many new business ventures, only to stop within the first 2-3 months. He never knew why. When I drilled into the issue with him, he found out it was because he just wanted to start a business to earn money, whereas he was already earning good money with his current job – which meant little reason to move out of the comfort zone. After that, I recommended him to identify a business idea which he was truly passionate about – which he did, and today he has been working on this same business for the past 1.5 years, the longest he has ever kept to a business venture.
- Learn to say no
Do you often put your goals aside for other people? It’s okay to do that once or twice, but if you keep doing the whole time, something is seriously wrong. You can’t forever put your life on hold for others! I used to have trouble saying no to others, until I realized I was just doing myself and my dreams a disfavor when I say yes to something that’s not what I want. Learn how to say no and you may find a bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.