February is a great time to check in on your goals. Are you making the progress you want to make? If so, are you celebrating in a way that keeps you motivated? If not, now is a great time to uncover what’s in the way, to set yourself up for success. Today we’ll talk about strategies for staying motivated to meet your goals.
It’s February, and that means it’s time to check-in on your New Year’s Resolutions or goals that you’ve set for 2021.
It’s so common to have a lot of energy for our goals at the beginning of the year. A few weeks in, and you can start to lose momentum. Today we’re going to look at how you can keep in motion so that you reach your goals.
First, take a moment to think about the goals for 2021. What progress have you made so far toward them? Really notice and celebrate all of your progress, big and small. If you had a goal of working out 5 times per week, how often have you met that target? Are there weeks where you’ve worked out some days, even if not yet all 5? All of that counts as progress. So really celebrate it – notice it and feel how great it feels that you’ve made some progress. Give yourself some recognition that not only feels good, but reinforces your success so far. Do this even if the progress is small and incremental.
Next, reflect on your progress:
- What has contributed to your progress?
- What did you DO that made that success possible?
- What were the habits, rituals or practices that supported it?
- What beliefs about yourself are reinforced by your success? And what beliefs or thoughts helped you have the success you’ve had so far?
If you feel like you’ve made NO progress, and you’re feeling down on yourself, get into reality first. Is it really true that you’ve made NO progress? Chances are that it’s not 100% true, and in that case, shift your focus to the progress you DID make. Paying attention to THAT is going to be much more motivating than beating yourself up for what you haven’t done.
If it is true that you haven’t made any progress or you’ve suffered a setback, see what you can learn from that. What knocked you off track? Was it something that happened? Something you did? Some attitude or way of thinking that is slowing you down? Whatever it is, the closer you get to identifying it clearly, the more likely you’ll be able to make a shift.
One of the most powerful steps you can take is to go back to your goal and remind yourself why it matters. What difference will it make in your life if you meet your goal? What impact will it have on others? How does your meeting your goal serve them? Be thinking about both the short-term and longer-term impacts of your goal.
For example, I have a goal of getting into better physical shape by working out more often. The longer-term impact is that I want to be one of those 80 or even 90 year olds who’s still really active. The shorter-term impact is that I want to be able to hike mountains with my son this summer. In both cases, there’s a very real impact, not only for me, but also for my son. Hiking with him this summer means we’ll be making precious memories together before he finishes high school. Staying healthy into my 80s and 90s means that caring for me will be easier for him too. When I think about that – the short-term and long-term impacts, not only for me but also for him, that’s motivating.
Once you’re clear on your why, be thinking about the choices you can make now that will get you back on track. Is there something you need to change in the way you’re thinking about your goal? Or maybe you need to shift your strategy or approach? Or maybe something outside of you has changed – a shift in circumstance. If you still want to go for your goal, what can you do differently to address that in the new circumstance?
Whatever you choose, remember to keep your focus on making progress every day.
In their research from a few years ago, Teresa Amabile & Steve Kramer found an interesting correlation between progress and happiness.
In the study they asked 238 people, from 7 companies and 26 teams, to complete an end-of-day questionnaire each day for a few months. These questionnaires asked about their work that day, and also about how they felt as they were filling it out. They found that when people reported having a good day, or being in a good mood, they also reported progress. In fact, 76% of the good days were days where there had been progress. On the other hand, when people reported a “bad day” or being in a bad mood 67% of the time that day included a setback.
If you’re like most people, you probably heard that and thought “Of course it felt like a good day! They made progress!” or “Of course it was a bad day if there was a setback.”
But which came first? Maybe this is a chicken-and-egg problem. What if the progress happened BECAUSE it was a good day? What if being in a good mood is what made the progress possible? On the flip side, what if being in a bad mood contributed in some way to the setback? Maybe the bad mood kept the person from picking up on or addressing signals that something was going off the rails. Or maybe it kept them from being resourceful about solving whatever problem had cropped up. We can’t really know – there’s a correlation, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to causation.
So my final suggestion for you today is that you run an experiment of your own. For the rest of this month, I challenge you to own your days. Before you dig into whatever work is on your plate each day, take a few moments to set yourself up for success. Create a daily practice that will help you start your day in a good mood and ready to make progress. Here are a few pieces to consider building into your daily practice:
- Celebrate your success from the day before
- Notice what you’re grateful for in your life
- Move your body – exercise, yoga, dance
- Clear your mind, meditate
- Focus on your goals
Whatever you do, the objective is to lift your spirits and position yourself to meet your goals before you dive into your day.
See what difference that makes in your progress this month. Let me know how it goes – I’d love to hear what you discover!
Having trouble defining your goals, or getting yourself in motion to meet them? Let’s talk. Book a call with me at zmcoach.net/call. We’ll talk about where you are in your career right now, and what’s getting in the way of your progress. If I can help you clarify your career goals or get into motion to meet them, I’ll let you know that, and we’ll talk about what that could look like. If not, I’ll let you know that too. Either way, you’ll be unstuck and in motion toward creating the career success you deserve.