Being organized is great to keep those New Year’s Resolutions on track, but that’s only half the battle. The other half is finding ways to maintain your motivation when you feel your drive to achieve personal goals slump. Setting mini-goals and creating rewards are the more obvious ways to keep going, but those are things to work towards, and not ways to stay motivated in between mini-goal to mini-goal.
That’s where we need to get creative.
Consider what motivates you. Depending on the resolution or personal goal, I am motivated by bad consequences or personal growth. Neither of these are bad nor correct. They are just what works for me.
After you’ve identified what keeps you going, consider what you need to do that aligns with that form of motivation. Below are some ideas for general motivation and productivity, but consider modifying a few to better suit your own needs.
Ways to Stay Motivated
- Be realistic of your goals in the moment. Life, as much as we might wish it to be, does not operate at a steady pace. There are days/weeks/months where everything is extremely hectic and strict maintenance of our personal goals is near impossible. If you find that your motivation keeps flagging or you can’t push past a wall, see if maybe you set the bar too high considering what is going on around you. You may need to lower your personal expectations until things slow down.
- A goal of losing two pounds a week might be unrealistic given a current work/life schedule, so see if you can lose one pound a week temporarily. That pound might be enough to get you through the lull and on track faster.
- Be accountable. It doesn’t matter who you are accountable to, yourself or to someone else, but if you know that someone is watching it will keep you going. If you need a buddy to check in constantly and they are willing to do so, then partner up. If you just need to think they are watching, but don’t want input, then ask them for help.
- Consider starting a blog or a Facebook group where you put your goals out in a public forum. You may not get any feedback, but it’s the perceived idea that someone is watching keeps you on track. I know it works for me. Only consider doing something like this if you are open to criticism. The Internet can be harsh, so if it’s a sensitive topic, you may need to keep it more protected for your sake.
- Change your scenery. This might seem like a weird one, but I think it could apply to any personal goals you set for yourself. Take a moment to get away from your surroundings. It may be stepping outside for 5 minutes, taking a day trip someplace, or taking a mini-vacation out of town. But if you physically get yourself out of a stale space for a while, you might be able to keep pushing forward.
- If you like to exercise at a gym, consider taking your next exercise session outdoors. If you are trying to eat healthy, consider going to a new healthy restaurant instead of making your own food. If you are trying to be more productive at work, take five minutes to step outside and breathe some fresh air.
- Make a list. The “pros & cons” standby, but consider this instead: “what happens if I don’t succeed?” Take between 1-5 minutes to create a bullet point list, without thinking too deeply about it, and write everything down that answers the question. Reflect on this list and see what are the top 3 things that concern you the most and see if that helps motivate you. Conversely, if you don’t want to use a “negative” reinforcement, make a list of “what happens if I do succeed” and see where that takes you.
- Use tools to help keep you motivated. Below I have a section with some modern tools you can use, but consider other offline tools that will help: a notebook, a journal, action plan, etc. These tools will depend on your needs.
- Don’t expect perfection. I keep repeating this mantra in one form or another: but be gentle on yourself and don’t expect to be perfect every day. There will be good days. There will be bad days. But you will achieve your personal goals if you don’t allow anything to hold you back.
Phone Applications and Browser Extensions
Below are some applications and extensions* I am familiar with to keep you motivated. There are a lot more out there, so I chose some that are meant for keeping productivity (and therefore motivation) up. If you do a quick search, you should be able to find an application or extension specifically for your personal goal needs (i.e. weight loss motivation, sleep timers, fitness, etc).
- Fabulous: Based in scientific research, this app helps you build healthy rituals as soon as you wake up in the morning. (Android, iPhone)
- Habitica: For the geeks among us, turn those personal goals into a game. Habitica gives you points that you can spend to get more items on your quest. (Android, iPhone)
- Forest: If you get distracted by your phone and need a way to stop, this app “takes over” your phone for a specific period of time and helps you grow a forest. The more points you collect, the different trees you can grow. (Android, iPhone)
- Strides: This provides a simple way to keep track of your personal goals and provides reminders along the way. (iPhone)
- Productivity Challenge Timer: Based on the Pomodoro method, this will track your time by giving you a work timer and a rest timer. This app will take over your phone, so if you anticipate needing to use it before the timer is up, you may want to find another app that does a similar thing. (Android, iPhone)
- Marinara Pomodoro Assistant/Simple Pomodoro: This is a timer that attaches to your browser to track your working time. Adjust your work/break lengths. (Chrome, Firefox)
- StayFocusd: This extension will block known time-waster sites (and those of your choosing) for a period of time to keep you from getting distracted. (Chrome, Firefox)
- Strict Workflow: This is a timer that attaches to your browser to track your working time. Adjust your work/break lengths & blocks known sites that can be distracting. (Chrome)
- Momentum: Creates a special new tab page with weather, to-do, and daily motivation. When it opens – it asks what your main goal for the day is and creates a to do item. You can personalize it to your needs. (Chrome)
- Pocket: Not quite a bookmark manager, this saves articles and websites in one handy place that can be curated across multiple platforms. You can organize each article by tags, text-to-speech option, and recommendations. (Chrome, Firefox)
*I have not been compensated to recommend any of these products.
Staying motivated isn’t easy, but it is doable. Even if you have goals and rewards along the way, motivation can lag in between those mini-goals and rewards. Figure out what motivates you specifically and how you can work that into your plan for personal success.
What tools do you use to stay motivated with your personal goals? Comment on this post to share what works best for you.