How to Make Your Goals Stick

How to Make Your Goals Stick

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

“A dream without a plan is a wish.”  In the past two blogs about change we’ve spent some time breaking down the foundations that help people change: Self-awareness and the decision to change.  Now, once you make a goal, how do you make sure to succeed in achieving it? After all, an admirable feat is not just about our launch, but how we finish. Below are some tips on finishing well.

  1. Pair your end-goal with something enjoyable.  Small rewards help provide a boost of motivation, and they don’t have to be exotic or expensive! Things you truly enjoy, like a steaming cup of coffee in the morning, music, or spending time with friends can be paired up with habits that you are trying to build. For example, if your goal is to journal everyday, create a routine of journaling with your favorite drink. This will increase the likelihood of you beginning to crave the activity. Brainstorm ways that you can incorporate your new goals with things that you naturally enjoy.
  2. Define Option B. If your goal is to stop damaging behaviors, identify the triggers that cause you to lurch towards the harmful activity. If your goal is to stop binging on junk food, keep healthy alternatives in your kitchen or make a habit of going outside for a walk when the urge to binge kicks in. If you are trying to stop chewing your nails, think of an alternative activity to occupy your hands when you are feeling anxious. If your alternative plan is too lofty or is something that you hate it, your heart won’t be in it and you will give up. You are more likely to succeed in lasting change when your alternative option is something you like to do and easy to do.
  3. Hold yourself accountable to another.  Find accountability by joining forces with a buddy or a group that is interested in pursuing a similar goal. For example, if you want to run a marathon, join a local running club. Those who hold themselves accountable to one another are most likely to succeed in the goals they set for themselves.
  4. Recalibrate. Oftentimes, circumstances like sickness, job loss, etc. can interrupt established routines. Accept that there will be bad days, days when you feel down, or days when your schedule seems out of control. Instead of having the expectation that these things should never get in the way of your plans, come to terms with life’s unpredictability. Schedule a few times throughout the year where your sole purpose is to evaluate your goals. As you evaluate them, think about what is helping you make progress and what roadblocks get in your way. Adjust your plan based on what you learn.
  5. Celebrate.  Recognize the milestones that you have achieved and celebrate them. Give yourself credit for the progress that you have made. Take the time to relish the goodness that comes with moments of success.

Go ahead and embrace a growth mindset, a mindset that seeks to grow and to learn.  As you do so, you will be a better student, parent, spouse, and employee/employer.

Your turn.  In the comment below, share what are some of the things you have found that have been helpful in helping you stick to your goals.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

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