If you ever feel discouraged while you’re trying to achieve a goal, staying motivated can be one of the most impactful differences between success and failure. Whether you’re preparing an important year-end project at work, attempting to lose weight, or trying to survive a weekend with your in-laws, sometimes getting through to the other side of your goals is hard. Really hard. The most accomplished people are motivated to succeed by something; whether it’s the feeling of success, the potential for future reward or simply the love of doing what they do, they have a reason that keeps them going when the going gets tough.
If you start to feel your motivation waning, here are some useful tips to help keep your eyes on the prize:
1. Focus on the Positive
If you’ve had a bad day and meeting your goals seem harder than ever because you’ve slipped up or lost sight of things, it is important to change your focus. Instead of paying attention to what you aren’t doing or how much time you don’t have, congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish. Maybe you felt embarrassed for having asked for help with something, but followed up with an in-depth report that you were able to present to your manager. It is important to not feel down about the setback, but rather focus on the fact that you were able to provide value to your team leader and learned during the process.
Staying on track to meet your goals can be frustrating, even stressful and emotional. But if you learn to work through the boredom, focus on smaller goals, and learn to recognize what you are doing right, you’ll find it much easier to keep pushing until you reach the big reward.
“Sometimes getting through to the other side of your goals is hard”
2. Set Small Goals
If you’re struggling to stay motivated, take a moment to step back and examine your goals. Are you focusing on the end results or small manageable goals? There is a popular joke that asks “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: one bite at a time. If you focus too much on the end goal, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and discouraged when you don’t immediately see the results you expect to see.
While remembering your end goal is important, setting manageable micro-goals can make the process less discouraging and a lot more rewarding.
3. Reward Yourself
Working towards a goal is no fun if you don’t feel a little rewarded for your accomplishments. It doesn’t have to be anything lavish or expensive, but it is important to reward yourself when you meet one of your milestones. A Vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks, a fresh manicure, or some new shoes are simple rewards that give you something more immediate to look forward to when you really need the extra motivation to finish when deadlines are fast approaching.
“Instead of paying attention to what you aren’t doing or how much time you don’t have, congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish”
4. Keep Reminders Around
When times get tough it’s important to remember why it is you do the things that you do. For me, my family and kids are a huge motivator to my success when I’m feeling overwhelmed at the office. Being a big coffee drinker, my children got me a personalized mug with their pictures on it that I like to keep on my desk as my own personal reminder. Having access to a reminder of why you are working so hard can give you an extra boost of energy when you’re finding it difficult to continue.
5. Suck it up
One of the most important things you can do to accomplish your goals is to accept that it’s going to be hard. It might even be boring sometimes. When you go to the gym and you hop on the elliptical or the treadmill and your legs just don’t want to move, accept that it’s going to be a hard workout and push through it. Come back the next day and do it again anyway.
“… It is important to reward yourself when you meet one of your milestones”
Sticking to a goal when it’s easy or fun is exactly that: easy and fun. The reason so many people fail before they reach their goals is not because they aren’t capable. It’s because starting out is easy, but when the results are slow to come, it gets really hard to remain motivated. Learn to enjoy – or at least survive – the boring parts and you’ll be golden.
Hank McKinsey is a lifestyle how-to blogger located in Central, California. Having graduated from Fresno City College with a major in business administration and a minor in journalism, Hank now resides as a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) while his wife works as the Assistant Director of Operations for a Fortune 500 company. Be sure to follow Hank on Twitter to see what he’s up to.