Back in early 2015 was the last time I wrote about how to stay on track with goals. Read it here if you missed it. All of those tips are very important so I recommend you read those before you read ahead.
This post is all about a system I’ve created to stay motivated enough to stay on track with goals once I’ve done all that other stuff. It works for me; I realize it may not be for everyone, so take it for what it’s worth and if you can apply it to your life, then splendid!
Have a goal management plan.
Once you know how you’ll go about achieving you goal, create tasks for it. Basically, think of yourself as managing a project. A project has a scope that you break down into work packages and action items, schedule, budget and a plan that includes risks, resourcing, etc. Treat your goals the same way. Have a project plan. Or, shall we call it a goal management plan?
Implement a rewards program.
Rewards have to be things you don’t do/buy/use on a regular basis. If you drink a Starbucks everyday, then a Starbucks is not a reward. For me, getting my nails done is basically a chore because I can’t stand chippy nails so every 2 weeks I go get gel nail polish put on them. So getting nails done isn’t a reward for me. Getting a paraffin wax manicure though is a reward because I don’t do it often and it’s a total treat. Getting a massage or facial is a reward. But getting my hair done isn’t a reward; it’s a huge necessary expense every 8-10 weeks or so. You get the idea right?
So, start with creating a list of things that feel like rewards to you in different capacities – little rewards, big rewards.
Depending on the size of the task in your goal management plan, allocate an appropriate size of a reward.
- So, you decide to not eat sugar for a week. Your first week without sugar is going to be a pain – so if you did survive that, you deserve something relatively big. Not a new car perhaps, but how about a new pair of runners or yoga pants? But after you’ve done it for 2 months, it shouldn’t be a big deal but your goal is to be sugar free for a year, so you have to continue rewarding yourself. Those later rewards can be smaller… perhaps a new pen or a new mascara?
- Say you have a weight loss of 30 lbs. Have milestones. At 5 lbs, you get something small, like treat yourself to a movie at the theater, but at 10 lbs (it usually means you’ve dropped a dress size) you can buy a new blouse or new runners, and at 30 lbs – your ultimate goal, you get something big, like a new handbag or you get to book a vacation somewhere.
- Be creative with your rewards.
- Be reasonable with you rewards. If your goal is to save money, spend less, stick to a budget, then obviously your rewards can’t involve spending money. Just like, if your goal is to lose weight, your rewards can’t involve chocolate cakes and pizza – doesn’t matter how much they feel like real soulful rewards.
If it is a habit forming goal that you can’t really measure an outcome for:
Habits are HARD to form. Some years ago, I decided to start drinking 2 glasses of water every morning first thing. It was awful at first, and if I had to start that habit today I wouldn’t know how to stick to it. But, today, I can’t go a day without starting my morning with 2 glasses of water. So much so, when I travel, the first thing I do is stop at a grocery store and stock up on water. Once something becomes a lasting habit, it really does stick. But getting it to lasting is challenging and there’s a lot of off days. So what do you do?
I’ve come up with a score system. 0-1-2-3, where a score of 3 means you performed this new habit extremely well and enjoyed it and a score of 0 means you totally fell of the wagon that day. A score of 1 or 2 obviously means you were somewhere in the middle, but you get a score for the level of effort. So basically, every day you get a score for this new habit.
Here’s my current example. So say, right now, I’m building a habit to start my day with 5 minutes of gratitude thoughts. Some days, the feelings of gratitude come pouring through. I score myself a 3. Some days, it happens begrudgingly but I’m still grateful and I do my 5 minutes of gratitude. I score myself a 2. If I put in some effort but didn’t last the full 5 minutes, then I still give myself a 1 and if it was just a screw-it-I’d-rather-wallow-in-self-pity sort of day then I get a big fat o. Then, as soon as your score adds up to the first 50, you get a reward, and then you give yourself a reward for 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 points. Typically, by the time you hit 1,000, you’ve been at this habit for at least a year. Now, it’s a habit and you don’t even notice the effort it takes. But don’t stop tracking until you get to 1,000. That’s when you get a big reward!
Let me know in the comments below if you’re going to try out any of my tips to stay on track with goals.