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4 Tricks to Help You Actually Finish That Goal You Set

Do you constantly set goals that you can't seem to finish? Read this for practical advice!!

I have your book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and I love it. I have noticed lately that I want to and do start everything, but can’t seem to finish anything! It seems I can only wholeheartedly focus on one thing at a time, but I want to do so so much!

Just a couple examples would be: I got a planner and used it for a few months then lost interest, I lost 15 lbs but gained 10 lbs back, I started to declutter my house and detailed it on a blog which lasted for a whole 2 months, I coupon in spurts then stop, I spent 3 months reading a few books a month and now I can’t seem to finish one.

I could go on and on, and this is all just in the last 9 months! I don’t know why I have all these ideas that I want to do, but can’t seem to find the motivation to finish anything! Do you have any ideas? I’d love to know what advice you would have. -Becky

Hi, Becky!

I think this is a very common problem for many of us. So know that you are not alone.

And I definitely don’t have it all figured out. In fact, I feel like I’m constantly in a battle between my inner disciplinarian and my inner squirrel.

Focus, Focus, Focus…oh, shiny things!

I want so badly to be disciplined, but I also have this sort of free spirit inside of me that pops out and wants to do its own thing from time to time. Which is why I’ve struggled to be a person who follows through with things.

If you were around in the beginning of my blog, you probably remember how I used to constantly start blog series, make ambitious goals for things I was going to do on a daily or weekly basis, and then never actually finish or follow through with what I’d started.

I get really excited about ideas, start on them, but then get excited about something else and move on. I guess you can say it’s my nature to be a really great starter, but actually following through and finishing things requires a lot more effort.

4 Tricks to Help You Finish That Goal

I don’t have this all figured out, but I have gotten much better at it! For example, recently I started a sort-of book club community on this blog. The old me would have blogged about it and said, “This is something we will be doing every week for the next year and here’s the list of all 52 books we’ll be reading!”

The older and wiser me said, “This is fun. Let’s try this out and see how it goes. I’m really enjoying it.”

Many of you hopped on board and it’s been a blast, but it’s also nice to know I didn’t make a promise or commitment to all of you that I might not be able to keep later on down the road if I get too busy to continue with the book club.

{FYI: I took some time off while I was in South Africa but hope to re-start it soon!}

So yes, I’ve gotten smarter about the expectations I set for myself. I’ve also discovered 4 tricks that help me actually finish the goals I set:

1. Set ONE Goal.

So much of the time we set ourselves up for failure by making a huge list with tons of different goals. Our lives feel out of control, so we decide to overhaul our lives overnight.

But the truth is: it’s not possible to overhaul your life overnight. Oh you can try, alright, but you’ll quickly crash and burn.

Instead of trying to change everything all at once, decide to focus on ONE THING for the next 2-3 months. Yes, you’ll have other basic daily tasks and responsibilities you need to complete too, but focus on this one particular area that you want to see a significant change in.

Not sure what one thing you should choose to focus on? I recommend picking the one that you think will make the biggest difference in your life overall. Maybe it’s getting up early to exercise, going to bed earlier, creating a time-blocked to-do list each day, or investing in relationships.

Once you’ve decided on your one goal that you will focus on, be sure to set a concrete time frame for that goal. Start with a time frame that feels manageable. This will look different for everyone, but I always say 3 weeks is a good starting place. It’s long enough to help you develop the habit or routine, but it’s also short enough that you will be able to stick to it without falling off the bandwagon.

At the end of the 3 weeks, decide if it’s making an impact on your life. Do you need to tweak it, redo it, or keep going with it for another 3 weeks if you’re happy with the direction it’s going? It’s important to constantly re-evaluate where you’re at with your goal and what kind of impact it’s making on your life.

As you think of other things you want to change in your life, write these down and keep a running list of future goal ideas, but only focus on one at a time. This simplifies things and allows you to really focus and turn that goal into a lifestyle — not just a short-lived ambitious idea.

4 Tricks to Help You Finish That Goal You Set

2. Find accountability for that goal.

This is one of the most important parts of goal-setting. You must have accountability. We were made for community, and it is tough to stick to a goal on your own without someone keeping you accountable for it.

Figure out what kind of accountability you need. Maybe it’s another person checking in with you, a chart on your fridge, an app that you check each day (like the Commit app), or even just posting publicly on Facebook. You could even ask a friend to call you each day at a certain time to ask if you followed through with your goal for the day.

For me, blogging about my goals is huge accountability. Putting all of my goals out there for you all to see motivates me to follow through with them.

4 Tricks to Help You Finish That Goal

3. Reward yourself regularly.

You have to reward yourself in order to stay the course. If you go, go, go and never take time to celebrate your success, you’ll end up exhausted.

Figure out some sort of small reward that will keep you highly motivated, and put that in place. Maybe at the end of 3 weeks, you’ll have coffee with a friend, buy yourself a new book, hire a baby sitter for a couple of hours, go shopping, or indulge in a treat. Pick something that you love, and give yourself permission to do it once you’ve reached your goal.

The reward doesn’t even have to be something you buy or go do at the very end of reaching your goal. It can be something you do along the way that motivates you daily. Maybe just tracking your progress motivates you internally and keeps you on course.

I also recommend setting your reward based upon your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 5 pounds, it’s probably not a great idea to make the reward eating chocolate cake!

And be sure to make the reward match the goal in size. If it’s a smaller baby step, make it a smaller reward. If it’s a huge monumental success, have a huge celebration when you reach the finish line! Life is too short to not take time to celebrate your wins and successes!

4 Tricks to Help You Actually Finish That Goal

4. Give yourself grace.

Don’t be a total goal-setting slave driver. Don’t be your worst critic and fill yourself with wrong, shameful messaging if you get off course or are going slower than you’d hoped. Beating yourself up because you haven’t hit all of your marks is not going to inspire you to stay the course.

Instead, give yourself grace. Understand that life will happen and there will be hiccups along the way. There will probably be certain circumstances that make it okay for you to set your goal aside for a day. For example, you might skip exercising one day if you have a child who was up sick all night long.

That said, don’t give yourself too much grace to the point that you fall off the bandwagon. However, it’s very important that you don’t exhaust yourself and burn yourself out by relentlessly chasing goal-setting success at the expense of your health, family, and sanity.

Have you ever struggled with following though with goals you’ve set? What has helped you to stay motivated and actually accomplish your goals?

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13 Comments

  • Vickie says:

    I love all these tricks. The reward one I’ve never thought about much. I always thought the job done was the reward. I might have to start doing this. It would make the job done so much sweeter!

    I especially though like the trick about grace. We have enough to do without being sidetracked by guilt.

    I do have problems with my goals sometimes and it helps if I break the big ones down in size. I have even just took some things off the list till later. I guess that’s where grace comes in!

  • When I was starting out with goal-setting, my goals were definitely too ambitious. I just completely overestimated what I could feasibly accomplish in a given amount of time. I also underestimated the time that the normal, everyday things of life take. If I tried to plan my day down to the minute, inevitably something would come up and I would get off track. Then I’d feel discouraged and just consider the whole day a wash.

    Now I try to “plan for the unexpected.” I make sure to leave plenty of room in each day’s, week’s, and month’s plan to account for the little annoyances–or the little wonders–of the day. That way I can focus on a few goal or a few steps. I feel that I have accomplished something, and I gain momentum.

  • Victoria says:

    I am a big/small goal setter and the one thing I have to remind myself often is that not all people get the reason why goal people set goals. For instance some one very close to me never sets goals. Oh they accomplish a lot—more than me often. But they often make fun of me and my snail pacing goals . I have learned to just ignore it. I thrive off of setting and reaching mini goals for myself and those tiny goals add up. For instance this year I set out to runs/walk 1200 miles in 2015. Sounds big but I broke it down. 1200 in a year is 100 a month or 25 miles by the 7th, 50 by the 14th and 75 by the 21st and 100 by the 28th of each month leaving me a few days to catch up. I also know if I run or walk 3 1/2 miles every day I will also make the goal. Seeing the numbers add up over the year is spurring me on. Not every personality type needs that but I do. It ignites a fire in me.

  • Jessie Lowe says:

    This is an area where I need all the help I can get. Right now the Daniel Plan is changing my life and health. My major goal is to manage to stick with it through the holidays and beyond. But, I also need to work on some other things, so, more goals- but I think breaking them down could really help. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kariane says:

    I think we all struggle with this at times. For me, breaking the big goal into smaller concrete steps helps a lot. When it’s huge and amorphous (e.g., get in shape), it’s difficult, when it’s small (e.g., today I will take a walk to get my body moving), I find it to be more doable.

    • Laura says:

      This is so true! When those goals are more specific and concrete, it’s so much easier to follow through. Because if you’re like me, the super vague ones could easily become an excuse not to follow through. 😉

  • stacey says:

    I feel a lot like the person who asked the question – so many good pursuits but it is hard to do it all! I think something I’m realizing about myself is that I sometimes suffer from information overload – there might be a free e-course, or even a paid one about something I’m interested in, a new DIY to try, recipes, books to add to my “must read” list, all sorts of things I find online. Sometimes I need to remind myself that stepping away from the computer and choosing to actually do something is better than just reading about things or adding more to the list of things I want to do or try. I don’t think I’m phrasing this very well (long week!) but for me the goal-setting can’t happen until I decide to shelve some ideas/pursuits for “someday” instead of feeling like I need to see to it all in the very near future.

  • Love this! I have that tendency to want to change everything overnight, and it’s a good reminder to stop and focus on one thing at a time. I also like the idea of an accountability partner. It’s not always easy to open up to someone else, but just the thought of having to “check-in” is a huge motivator!

  • Janel Hrvatin says:

    I have the same problem, I have so many goals that I want to start but I would start them and then tell myself that they will never work out or I can’t do this because I don’t have the money too. Some of my examples are starting a blog. I already have started my business plan and started writing down topics to post but I stop because I tell myself that this won’t work no one is going to read my blog.
    Some other goals I have are organizing my house with cool tricks but that cost money. And a million other little things.
    But I am going to take one of the millions of goals like getting that blog up and going and focus on that!
    Thank you Crystal this posted help me!

  • Amanda says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you!

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