Do you have trouble sticking to the goals that you make? I do. Both hands raised here! Usually, I’ve already started to give up on my goals by now, despite it being so close to the beginning of the year. But not this year!
To be honest, I actually just started on one of my goals for this month… since I haven’t been home (I’ve been visiting my sister the past week or two), I haven’t been able to exercise regularly. But I’m not giving up on that goal. I exercised this morning and am planning to exercise regularly from now on. And I have been keeping my other goal, writing in my prayer journal every night, faithfully.
So why haven’t I been tempted to give up on my goals so far? I know it’s still so early in the year, but I am determined to stick to my goals for every month this year. One of the reasons is that I have been getting a lot of motivation. I’ve been reading tons of articles about how to reach your goals and be productive, and I’ve come across 9 great tips that I want to share. I am planning to incorporate these tips into my life all year, and I hope that they’ll be as helpful to you as they are to me!
1 – be specific and realistic about your goals
There is a difference sometimes between goals and dreams. You have to be realistic about the goals you set, and make sure that each of them is part of God’s will for you. When I first started blogging, I had this dream of being one of those bloggers whose blog takes off their first year and they get a huge following and earn lots of money through affiliate links and selling stuff.
As the months passed, I had to face reality. Because of my crazy, always-changing schedule and my responsibilities at home, I didn’t have the time to dedicate to that dream. While it is a realistic goal for a lot of people, it wasn’t for me. The much more realistic (and God-led) goal that I’m working towards now is just to post every other week and to simply focus on being a help and encouragement to y’all.
Think over what you want to accomplish this year and really, really analyze to see if it’s realistic or just a dream. Narrow down your goals to be as specific as possible so it’s easier to do this next tip.
2 – break your goal into achievable steps
Some people can plan out every single step for their goal and stick to it. If you’re one of those people that can plan out every single step, good for you! Go for it and crush those goals.
But if you’re like me, that can be overwhelming. Last year, I tried planning out my blog posts for probably four months in advance. I reached maybe one of my deadlines and was super stressed every time I thought about writing a blog post.
This year, I decided to try something different. The other day, I sat down and brainstormed blog posts for each of my categories. I needed to come up with 26 blog post ideas so I could post every other week. I didn’t quite think of that many, but that leaves room for flexibility, posting what God lays on my heart that specific week, and being spontaneous. 😉 And I now have a list that I can pull from whenever I need an idea for a blog post. I don’t have them assigned to any specific month, so that takes away the stress for me.
Figure out how to break your goals into steps that are achievable for YOU. Don’t compare yourself to others – you are not living their life and their schedule. You are to apply the abilities that God has given especially to you. And remember, baby steps are better than nothing!
“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)
3 – place your goal and steps into a timeline
This kinda runs into the last tip. It’s great to set a deadline, but make sure that you’re doing so in a way that works for you.
I’m totally focusing on one or two goals a month. This sets small, achievable deadlines and gives me a workable timetable.
I’m also focusing on moving a little closer each month to my big goals for the year, Lord willing. For example, in order to publish 26 posts this year, I have to do 2 or 3 a month. Looking at the step in front of me is not nearly as scary as looking at the end goal.
Evaluate the steps you need to take to reach your goal and put them into a timetable that works for you, and then focus on one step at a time.
4 – incorporate the steps toward your goal into your daily routine
You can work towards most goals every day. Many times, you’re repeating the same step day after day, so it’s simple to add it to your daily routine. If you want to get more fit or lose weight, you have to exercise consistently. You want to write a book? Most authors write a minimum amount of words every day. If you want to become stronger in your prayer life, you have to pray every day.
To achieve another of my big goals, which is getting good enough at my hand lettering so I can possibly sell it, I need to hand letter every day. Even just writing every day, and not necessarily practicing anything specific, is working towards that goal, because practice makes progress.
Figure out how you can incorporate the steps towards your goals into your daily – or weekly or monthly – routine.
5 – be willing to be flexible
We have to face it: things don’t always go as planned. There will always be bumps in the road, and we may have to change some things along the way in order to reach our goals. Sometimes God throws a curve ball in our path, and we have to change direction to follow His will. And that’s perfectly okay! Remember that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28) and that He has a special plan for your life, which includes all of those bumps and curve balls. Life is a continual growing and learning process. Be willing to be flexible and open to whatever changes God brings your way.
Like I’ve already shared, I had to learn that with planning content for this blog. A strict schedule didn’t work for me, but a looser, more flexible list of ideas to incorporate when I want to is much more achievable for me.
Be willing to change things up if you need to, and keep an open mind to flexibility. God allows things in our lives for a reason, so look for the lesson He has for you in that bump and move on as He leads you.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
6 – find an accountability partner
Having a trustworthy person to share all your ups and downs with does wonders for keeping on track! As I shared in my post Being Thankful Every Day, I have an accountability partner for my gratitude lists. I wanted to be more aware of the many blessings that God has given me, and knowing I have to text my list to her each evening keeps me looking for what I’m thankful for during the day. She also asks me (almost) every day if I’ve exercised.
I also just found another friend to help keep me accountable with sticking to my daily schedule. Accountability partners are amazing for me. Knowing that someone else knows what I’m supposed to be doing helps me to actually do it.
Find a godly friend you trust to keep you accountable for reaching your goals. Share with her the steps you want to take and don’t be afraid to share both the good and bad days. She will cheer you on during the good days and encourage you to keep going during the bad days!
7 – track your progress and use a reward system
These goal tracker sheets I created will help you keep on track with your goals! You can write the steps you need to take in the spaces for each day, or you can simply color them in as you make progress. Don’t be shy about editing them to fit your needs, either! I’m thinking about inserting smaller reward points in two or three places throughout the month on the ones that I print for myself. I’m planning to use these for my monthly goals.
Using a reward system really helps keep me on track. You don’t necessarily have to spend money to reward yourself, either. One of my favorite ways to celebrate something I’ve accomplished is to have a “sister day.” In our house, a sister day usually consists of a day in comfy clothes (often our pajamas), just relaxing. Sometimes we watch one of the long Jane Austen movies or play a Nancy Drew computer game. We often stuff ourselves with too much junk food, too!
Be creative with your rewards. Hold off on buying something that you really want or doing something that you’ve been looking forward to until you’ve accomplished a goal. It’ll be much more special and meaningful if you get it as a way to celebrate your accomplishment!
Print these goal tracker sheets (optional, of course!) or make your own goal tracker in your planner, journal, or a notebook. Use a reward system to keep you motivated!
8 – review and reevaluate
Every so often, review your goals and see if they’re still working for you. Maybe something has changed and a goal is no longer relevant for you at this point of your life. Maybe you’re not making the progress you wanted to and you need to start fresh. Perhaps you simply need to look back and see what you’ve accomplished!
My schedule is always changing, so I often have to reevaluate my goals and everyday routines and other things. I like to look over things at the end of each month so I can get a fresh start the beginning of the next month. I sometimes change things up as each new season starts, too. Just do whatever works for you.
Set a semi-structured time to look over your goals and review and reevaluate them.
9 – keep pressing on
Even if it’s just baby steps, keep going! Don’t give up. Keep pressing on. Look back at what you’ve accomplished, talk over things with a friend, write down everything you’re struggling with, look up Scripture and motivational quotes, whatever you need to do to keep moving forward.
I’ve been reading a book called Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George, and there are a couple chapters in which she goes through Philippians 3:13-14 and encourages you to keep pressing on, no matter what. It’s an amazing, encouraging book and I highly recommend it! Though her focus is mostly for your spiritual life, she also shares many practical tips that I have found helpful.
Lots of times when I’m struggling with discouragement, I’ll text or call a friend or talk things over with a sister. Talking through things helps me work through all the feelings and other things that are hindering me from thinking clearly. Journaling also works for me.
Do whatever you need to do to get through the discouragement. Get some motivation and keep pressing on!
Maybe you have some tips that I didn’t cover or some resources that help you. Comment and tell us how you accomplish your goals!