If you’re like me, then you’re just now realizing that we are nearing the end of April. If you’re a lot like me, then you’re wondering where a third of this year has gone.
The worst part is, we can look around and see other people who know exactly where this year has gone: they’ve finished projects, learned a new skill, garnered recognition, lost weight, or otherwise done something awesome. Somehow, they’ve left the rest of us in the dust.
So much for comparison. The truth is, I have done several significant things this year, and so have you, probably. But what are some ways that we can really make progress on the goals we have? How can we overcome those doubts that paralyze us, to take even just one step closer to where we want to be?
It comes down to several simple, fool-proof principles. Regardless your goals, there are ways to make them more of a reality, and there’s NO excuse not to start today!
6 Ways to Stay Focused
(& Achieve your Short-Term Goals)
1) Take your goals seriously.
Take them as seriously as your job, your meals, and anything else you couldn’t possibly imagine compromising. If you’re determined to accomplish a goal, make it imperative that you do something about it every day or every week. Do whatever it takes: schedule sessions, set time aside, and start living as though this goal actually matters to you.
2) Do the research and ask for help from an expert.
Sometimes we need to refine our goals to make them more achievable; other times we just need more information in order to work faster and smarter. Whether you want to eat more healthily, build a birdhouse, become a writer or train your dog, you’ll do better with a bit of expert advice. Go in with eyes wide open; as long as you have Internet access, there’s no reason not to.
3) Make your goals public and ask for accountability.
Are you afraid of sharing your goals because you might fail? Too bad! It’s time to tell someone exactly what you hope to accomplish and ask for their support. Trust that they’ll have your best interest in mind and cheer you on in your journey. And if you face challenges, they’ll be there to help you reassess and rebuild.
4) Say no to others, and also to yourself.
There’s lots of literature about drawing boundaries, saying no, and making time for yourself. That’s all well and good, but what if YOU are your own worst distraction? What if you’d rather watch TV than go to the gym, or you’d rather answer emails than work on a side project? Try this: say “No, self, you know you really want to (insert goal here), so that’s what we’re going to do.” (Tip: avoid saying this out loud in public…)
5) Outline your steps and give yourself deadlines.
Once you’ve done the research, you can break down your goal into steps forward. Whether you’re changing a habit, learning a new skill, or training for a half-marathon, you need a step-by-step guide to get there. Create your own plan (or borrow one from an expert), and give yourself real deadlines to achieve them; at each deadline, take some time to reassess and reflect. By taking incremental steps towards your goal, you’ll be able to chart your progress over time.
6) Celebrate progress, large or small.
We all need a little affirmation, especially when trying something new. If your goal is to lose weight and you could only make it to the gym once this week, celebrate that. If your goal is to build a new dining table and all you did was purchase the materials, then celebrate that. There’s no reason to belittle a step forward; it is after all, a step forward. Acknowledging your progress can only make the goal feel more real and more attainable.
Bottom Line: We all have to start somewhere.
It’s easy to look around and feel that you’re always behind– perhaps too behind– to try something new. But this isn’t about others and what they’ve achieved, it’s about you and what you’re going to achieve. Your goals, your dreams, and where you want to be in the near future. So be brave, and get started!