Setting goals is easy. Keeping them is hard. If you are one of the many people who has trouble following through on the goals you set for yourself, there are two simple steps that you can take to increase your chances for success.
1. Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable “mini-goals”
2. Schedule regular “check-ins” on your calendar to evaluate your progress and reset your mini- goals if needed
Spending a little extra time on these two things when you set your goals will greatly increase your chances for success. Mini-steps help you stay motivated because they are easier to achieve, and regular check-ins will ensure you are staying on track to meet your goal.
Splitting your goal up into smaller and more manageable steps makes it easier to make progress. You are less likely to get discouraged if you drop the ball, because the next mini-step will be easier to achieve than the overall goal itself. For example, if your goal is to become more fit by exercising more and eating healthier, it can be really easy to give up a month into that goal when you look back and realize you haven’t made the progress you wanted.
Often, we set a goal and go crazy in the first week or two doing everything we can to achieve it. But then it becomes too much, and we start to make excuses to avoid doing the things we need to do to meet our goal. Suddenly, the prospect of giving up becomes more appealing because the goal was too lofty. But if that goal is clearly planned out and broken down into smaller steps, it becomes easier to achieve.
For example, if you want to become healthier by exercising more and eating better food, don’t start off by trying to completely change your diet overnight and go from never going to the gym to going five times a week. Instead, start small. Commit to one day a week where you eat all vegetarian, or cut carbs, or make whatever dietary changes you are hoping to achieve in the long term. Just one day. Keep your diet the same for the rest of the week for the first month. Then go up to two days a week the second month. Give your body and mind a chance to adjust. Do the same thing with the gym. If you never go, commit to going once a week for the first month. Then, gradually increase the time you are spending there.
You are more likely to keep up with a small change than a big change, and you will be more motivated to continue at the end of the month because you are less likely to have failed.
Regularly checking in on your progress is another important thing to do to stay on track if you want to meet your goals. Once you have broken your goal down into mini-steps, you can set a time (schedule it on your calendar) to evaluate your goal to see if you are meeting your steps. If you aren’t, instead of giving up, it’s important to look at the reasons why you aren’t meeting your milestones. Maybe your mini-steps were still too lofty. Review your progress and reset your schedule with more manageable mini-goals.
Maybe you made things too easy on yourself and you feel like you can do more towards achieving your goal than you thought you could. Again, use this information to reset your mini-goal schedule. Then set another time to check in on yourself again in a month or a week (depending on the goal). Having an actual time and date scheduled on your calendar that is a designated goal review time will help you to not forget about your goals and why you set them. Keep the fire from your original intention burning!
These two simple things will make it much easier for you to follow through on the goals you set for yourself. We are now a month into the new year, and for those of us who made New Year’s resolutions, now is a good time to check in on those goals and re-evaluate them. Are you on the path to achieving your goals? Were they too hard? Too easy? Do you need to make changes to your original goal, or do something different to get yourself back on track to meet your original goal?