I’ll never forget the most boring summer of my life. I was a soon-to-be junior in college, and I was taking a few summer credits to lessen the following semester’s load. For three months, that was my only purpose. I woke up, opened my books, and finished each day’s assignments in a matter of a few hours. That was it. I didn’t have a job, a serious hobby, or anybody to pass the time with (they were all working). And after just a few weeks, I felt myself slip. I wasn’t just bored anymore, I was restless and irritable and irritated and, most of all, I felt extremely lonely and just plain unhappy. This is the summer I learned the importance of constant forward motion.
Constant forward motion is all about working steadily and productively toward your goals. Now, in order to do that, you must first have goals. You might not recognize it as such, but goal-setting is crucial to your overall happiness and wellbeing. When you don’t have goals to work toward, you’re likely to experience some unwelcome effects—such as those restless or even lonely feelings I mentioned earlier. That being said, you can’t just set goals—you have to set your mind to achieving them. And put a plan in place to get there. Lucky for you, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Farah Harris is here to offer you some helpful pointers. Follow her tips below for achieving your goals, and I promise you’ll be on your way to living a less lonely, more fulfilling life:
1) Check your tribe. If you want to fly with eagles, you can’t hang around pigeons. Surrounding yourself with those who are where you want to be can influence you more than you know. If you want to become more physically active, it doesn’t make sense to spend time with those who are comfortable with a sedentary life. They will kill your motivation, provide you with reasons to not move forward and won’t offer new knowledge and challenges to get you to where you want to go. The right tribe will keep you accountable and push you to get results.
2) Identify your “why.” Many people will create a goal without a real “why” behind it. You may say that you want to save more money. That’s great, but what are you saving the money for? Retirement? A new business? A car? Vacation? Whatever the goal is, when you achieve it, what will it do for your life? Why are you passionate about it? If you don’t have a concrete “why” to push your sails forward, you will not reach your destination.
3) Visualize your goal. After you come up with your “why,” now it’s time to craft a compelling vision. Motivation resides in the emotions that you attach to your goals. It is said that without a vision, the people perish. When you take the time to see yourself accomplishing your goals, it does something to you mentally and emotionally. It no longer is a passive thought suspended in theory, but it becomes more real. Now, when you link your vision with joy, peace, and excitement, it will give you the energy you need to move through those moments of doubt and discomfort enabling you to make it to the other side.
4) Don’t bite off more than you can chew. One of the biggest motivation killers is trying to do too much at one time. Big goals are wonderful; however, they can end up intimidating you to the point of inactivity. Try breaking up your big goal into smaller chunks. For example, if you want to lose twenty pounds in the next six months, what do you have to do daily or weekly to achieve that? What you do today impacts your future. So breaking it down into bite size pieces minimizes the weight of it all and makes it more digestible. This is why it’s important to be strategic and implement SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals to help you plan effectively what is needed to hit your target as not to be discouraged and overwhelmed.
5) Be aware of your mindset. Excitement and optimism comes at the beginning stage but the minute things get uncomfortable you want to forfeit. Getting your mindset right is key to keeping the momentum going. Accomplishing goals is not a straight line. There will be many ebbs and flows, hills and valleys, therefore it is important to be prepared for the valleys. Revisiting your “why,” visualizing your end goal, and positive self-talk is critical at this juncture. Also, don’t get stuck should-ing yourself and comparing yourself to others. Stay in your lane, there’s less traffic there.
6) Give yourself grace. It’s surprising how hard we can be on ourselves whenever we stumble. There may be external forces that slow down your progress (such as sickness, changes at work, unexpected expenses) and sometimes, it’s internal (i.e. mindset). Either way, be honest with yourself about the cause for the pause, address it, and keep it moving. It’s literally a waste of time to take residency in self-pity. Be kind to yourself. Know that you will get there when you get there.
7) Celebrate your wins. Regardless of how big or small, you should celebrate your accomplishments. You could go see a good movie, have a decadent dessert, hit the dance floor, or book a spa treatment. But know that the celebration doesn’t have to be in the form of a reward, simply jotting down your accomplishments in a daily journal can improve your mindset and give you the sense of achievement that will motivate you to do more. Don’t minimize your progress, forward is forward.