How to stay on track with goals

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!

How to stay on track with goals - anamika.caIf it is a measurable, tangible goal:

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.