It is often easy to get inspired and excited about something new in our lives, but how long do we stay motivated? Most people I have met are only happy and excited for as long as a novelty lasts, or until the first big challenge arrives. However, if you aim to be successful in any personal goal, the initial inspiration and emotions need to be present day and night, for it will carry us through difficulties. When we face difficulties, when we receive bad news, it’s even more important to stay focused on our goal and be positive. We can’t simply give up and move on, it doesn’t work that way.
For winners, losing inspires them. For losers, losing defeats them.
– Robert T. Kiyosaki “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”
We are living in a society in which most people are encouraged to find an excuse and give up, rather than take charge of our problems and tackle them. Beneath this behavior of excuses is the belief that you won’t achieve your goal, so you might as well find an excuse and that way avoid facing defeat. How many of us have heard a couple of our friends complain about their weight problems, but then go on and say that they just have to accept their body the way it is. Apparently they got the ‘bad genes’ from their parents and the ‘bad metabolism’ so they just have to accept their fate.
This approach, full of excuses, will keep you from achieving your goals. If we do not pay attention to this problem, and ‘let it slide’, we will soon find this same attitude poisoning other areas of our life and becoming a habit. This habit, like a virus, prevents us from living the life of our dreams, as cliché as that sounds. It is important, then, to recognize when we are falling into this trap so we can stop it immediately. Here are ways to assess this problem.
- Write down your goals – small and big.
- Prioritize – Which of your goals are more important and/or urgent to you?
- Establish a timeline – set a deadline for your goal. Include many short-term goals along the way!
- Follow the timeline – reward yourself every time you achieve one of your short-term goals.
As soon as you catch yourself not following the timeline, you should answer a few questions:
- Am I close from achieving my goal?
- What is keeping me from achieving my goal?
- Was the timeline realistic? Should I reassess it?
- Have I done everything in my power to achieve it? What can I do differently?
- What have I done that is preventing me (or has delayed me) from achieving my goal? Has it been really worth it?
It is important to really take the time to reflect on the things that are keeping us from achieving our small, short-term goals. Awareness of what is stopping you from achieving small goals will be the foundation to changing habits that are most likely affecting larger areas of your life without you noticing it. It all boils down to self-control in the end, and taking the time to study yourself is the best tool you have to achieve this; it is also one of the most rewarding activities you can do!
Share your thoughts – What techniques do you use to not fall in a vicious cycle, and instead keep working toward your goals? What are common excuses you have found that should be rethought and avoided?