Personal Development

How to stay motivated to reach your goals

It’s Friday night of the long weekend. Better yet, it’s Reunion weekend in my rural Ontarian town — an event that only happens every 10 years. I’m sitting on my patio with a cold beer cracked, surrounded by my friends, playing Texas horseshoes, munching on snacks, and catching up on old times.

Just kidding — I’m writing this blog post. This is a post about how to stay motivated and achieve greatness, not beer Olympics!

For most of my life, I was the type of person who was self-motivated. I could light a fire under my own ass and relentlessly pursue any goal I chose. But after my divorce, I lost that spark. For three years, my motivation was non-existent.

Nowadays, with my life in a stable place again, I’ve been able to tap into my long-lost motivation stores, and I’m finally feeling like my old self.

What’s my secret? How did I re-motivate myself to reach my goals? Read on to find out!

Find your why

Before you do anything else, you need to ask yourself why you want this. And dammit, it needs to be a REALLY GOOD why.

My why is my son. I want him to have a mommy he’s inspired by, so that as he grows up, he’ll know that he can reach his goals too. I want him to have a mommy who has enough energy to play with him after school and work. I want the bulk of his learning to come from travelling the world and experiencing different cultures. So I work my ass off, even when I’m tired, because I’m thinking of him.

My why helps me stay motivated. What’s your why?

Hold yourself accountable

Listen, fun things are always going to happen. But if you say yes to every fun thing that comes your way, you’re saying no to your goals. There has to be some short-term pain for long-term gain.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, start a business, or pay down your debt, you need to have a plan in place for how you’re going to reach your goals. You know what they say: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Many successful people use the acronym SMART to set their goals (this stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely).

Specific

Before you tackle any goal, sit down with your journal or laptop and get 100% clear on it. Be specific about exactly what you want to achieve. Instead of saying, “I want to get healthy”, you could say, “I’m going to improve my health by filling half my plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner.”

Measureable

Make sure that there’s some sort of measurable outcome, so you can track your progress and know when you have, in fact, achieved it. If you’re trying to lose weight, hopping on the scale or taking measurements weekly is how you’ll know you’re making progress. If you’re trying to pay down your debt, you’ll literally check in weekly to see if your debt has decreased.

Achievable

Ask yourself if it’s something you can actually achieve. For example, if I decided to set a goal to run a marathon next week, it would be a terrible idea — I’d probably die after the first mile! But if I adjusted that goal to running a marathon next year, it would give me enough time to do some smaller races before that, build up my confidence, and train my butt off.

Relevant

You also need to make your goal relevant to your life. If it’s not something you actually care about, you’re not going to stay motivated to see it through. Also, is it the right time in your life to pursue this goal? Do you have the skills you need to accomplish it? Are there other goals you need to reach before you tackle this one?

Timely

Finally, block off time to work towards your goal, and set yourself deadlines. I spend one hour a day doing something to move myself closer to my dreams. If something comes up — like a power outage or another important commitment — I tack that missed time onto another day.

Be accountable to yourself — and even to others. I like to actually tell people about my goals so that I’ll feel like a giant douche if I don’t achieve them.

Visualize the outcome

When I’m exhausted from being up half the night with the baby, it’s really tempting to “take a break”. But as soon as I start thinking about throwing in the towel, I know it’s time for some serious visualization.

I picture everything I’m working towards: my future Jeep, more time to spend with my son, and the freedom to work remotely. And I don’t just picture these things — I actually fantasize about them. For real.

I imagine the wind blowing through my hair and Tove Lo’s electropop beats blaring from the sub in my neon blue Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. I feel the sand between my toes and hear the waves washing up on shore on a remote beach in Belize. I see the joy on Kieran’s face as Josh Donaldson signs his autograph from our front row seats at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

If there’s one thing you do to stay motivated, this is it. Keep dreaming, baby!

Break your bad habits

Let me tell you from experience: Nothing will suck the motivation out of you faster than comparing yourself to other people. I used to spend what equated to hours a day just scrolling through social media — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, you name it. But once I downloaded the app RealizD and literally realized how much time I was wasting each day, I knew it was time to set some limits. I now have a certain amount of time to spend on my phone daily. The app tracks it, and once my time is used up, that’s it — no more texting, no more email, no more Instagram.

I also used to spend my evenings watching Netflix, all the while complaining that I didn’t have enough time to reach my goals. HORSESH*T.

We all have the same 24 hours each day. We can spend our free time looking at other people’s lives on social media and binge-watching Orange is the New Black, or we can use that time to propel ourselves forward. The choice is ours.

Give yourself a pep talk

Sometimes, you just need to have a good heart-to-heart with yourself. When you’re slacking or you want to quit, sit down by yourself and remind yourself what a badass you are. Tell yourself that you are not a quitter. Write it down if you have to, but just get rid of the negative self-talk. Nobody successful ever got there by telling themselves their goals were impossible.

If you screw up, start again. If you screw up again, restart again. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t quit. Just. Keep. Going. Forward motion will help you stay motivated.

Re-evaluate your goals

If all else fails, you need to ask yourself a serious question: How bad do you really want it?

Maybe that sounds harsh, but it’s 100% true. We prioritize the things that are truly important to us. In my university years, I valued academia, so I studied hard and pulled off good grades. In my mid-20s, I wanted to look good, so it was easy to stay motivated to work out and eat healthy. Nowadays, my main priority is my own freedom. My appearance is just not that important to me, so I don’t focus on looking my best.

Whatever you value most is what you will pursue. The bad news is, we can’t force our values to change. They change naturally based on our life experience. The good news is, we can still set goals that are in alignment with our values and feel like a goddamn warrior when we accomplish them.

Life happens, and when it does, it can be tough to stay motivated. Reaching your goals is never easy — if it was, everyone would be crushing goals 24/7. But it’s sure as hell worth it, and don’t you forget it, girl boss!

Hey, you over there with the goals! Before you go, turn your thoughts into action by writing down a goal for yourself. Tell us your why and then go through the SMART goal setting process. How are you going to hold yourself accountable? Which of these tips do you plan to try to help yourself stay motivated? Comment below, and share this post with someone who could use a motivational kick in the pants!

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