How to stick with the goals you set

Photo of woman writing in planner

“This year is going to be different!”

We think it, we write it, we say it, we scream it — because proclaiming success brings it about, right? If we believe something with our whole heart, write it on a sticky note and post it to our bathroom mirror, how can we possibly fail? It’s those daily reminders that make good things happen!

Don’t they?

The short answer is, well, no. But the long answer is much more hopeful, so hang tight.

We’ve heard all the tips:

  • Write down your goals and you’ll be more successful.
  • Post them where you’ll see them every day to stay motivated.
  • Set achievable goals.
  • Tell someone what you desire so you have accountability.

These motivational mantras are so commonly spread they verge on cliché, but guess what? They actually do help — most people.

photo of a "do what you love" 2019 planner on a desk

But saying a goal out loud, even several times a day, will not make it happen. Writing it down won’t make it happen. Standing on top of a mountain and proclaiming it for the world to hear will not make it happen. Those reminders may serve as motivation, but it’s only half the equation. Really, it’s less than half. Motivation may kick-start your engine, but it’s not going to drive you all the way home. Eventually, you have to put your foot on the gas.

Ultimately, setting a goal only works if you do, too.

You have to actually do something.

This time, you got off to the right start. You were thoughtful about your goals for 2019. You really examined your life, discovered the areas you needed or wanted to shore up, and you set goals to make that happen. You know what you want. You wrote it down in your super-cute planner. So the hard part is done!

Actually, now the hardest part begins. Have you ever heard of reverse engineering? It’s basically taking a product and breaking it down, piece by piece, to recreate it. It’s starting at the finish line and working your way back to the start.

photo of woman stretching

Now that you have your goal, reverse engineer it. Build a game plan that helps you get to the finish line, starting with the final step and working your way back to where you are now. What actions do you need to take to succeed?

Let’s look at an example. More than half of all New Year’s resolutions are related to weight loss, so here’s a sample action plan that someone who wants to lose 15 pounds might use, from end to beginning:

GOAL: Lose 15 pounds

  • Step 5: Final push with a trainer and/or nutritionist to reach goal.
  • Step 4: Update workout and healthy eating plan based on progress.
  • Step 3: Follow plan.
  • Step 2: Work with a trainer and/or nutritionist to create workout and healthy eating plan.
  • Step 1: Determine how much weight to lose.

This is very simplified, and your action plan might have 100 steps, not five. But the method is the same. Start with the end in mind and work your way back to where you are now.

Find someone who has your back.

This is bigger than just telling a friend that you want to run a marathon in 2019 — it’s actually finding a running buddy and meeting up to run.

An accountability partner strives to reach a goal with you. This friend and ally stands by you day in and day out, not just saying “you can do it!” from the sideline, but getting out there and pounding the pavement with you.

photo of friends working out together

If you want to launch a business, find a fellow entrepreneur to compare notes with. Meet for coffee once a week. Share struggles and successes. They don’t even have to work in the same industry to be an incredible support person in your life! Find someone who needs you as much as you need them, then be there for each other every step of the way.

What’s your goal?

Write it down. Shout it from the mountaintop. Make it known. Then make it happen.

What are your best tips for sticking with the goals you set? Share them in comments.

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