Setting personal goals is easy — but sticking to them can be tricky business. Distractions, instant gratifications, and a calendar of obligations can all derail your plans.
When you find yourself stuck on the path to your goals, getting yourself moving in the right direction again can seem like a bigger hurdle than actually achieving your goals — but it’s not impossible. Here are four simple things you can do to stay focused and keep moving toward your personal goals:
1. Set Goals You Truly Desire
We often make decisions based on factors other than our desires. It is true that you will always have obligations, but a personal goal should be something you want for yourself. If you don’t deeply desire achieving your goal, you will likely never achieve.
You may think every goal is naturally a desire, but that is not always the case. Many of us — without even realizing it — set goals not because we want to achieve them, but because we want to please other people or conform to a certain image others have of us.
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to work toward your goal, check in with your level of desire. Make sure your goal is something you truly want.
2. Look to the Future
Motivation, which is connected to your emotional state, is fleeting. It comes and goes. While feelings are certainly valid, you can’t be ruled by them. Imagine what would happen if you didn’t show up for work every time you simply didn’t feel like going?
To stay in touch with your motivation, even when it is waning, fast forward to the future. Ask yourself: Whom do I want to become? Then, focus on the habits, lifestyles and achievements you’ll need to become that person. This should help pull you out of your present-day rut.
3. Acknowledge Your Fears
While it is natural to want to suppress the negative thoughts you feel, it’s a better idea to take a clear look at them. Ignoring your fears and limiting beliefs about yourself will only get you so far.
Instead, take time to really understand yourself. That way, you can better prepare yourself to deal with the negative thoughts that are holding you back. Everyone who has ever achieved anything has had to overcome fears and insecurities in the process.
4. Do What Needs Doing
Sometimes you just have to go through the motions to get your motivation back, like dragging yourself to the gym even when you don’t feel like going.
Focus on the doing of the thing, not the way it feels. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be glad you did. Start small — you don’t have to try running for a whole hour on your first day back in the gym. Action is always better than inaction when you know what you have to do. Sometimes you have to just do it.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.