It is easy to get excited about the prospect of something new. It's not as easy to stay excited after the initial rush has worn off. Come the first of the year many people set New Years resolutions with the best intentions, often fitness or weight loss related only to abandon them a few weeks later (if they even last that long). What most of these people lack is a long term vision toward meeting their goals. The reality of attaining any goal is that it takes consistent hard work. So how do you bring yourself to keep the schedule you've set for yourself when you know you really should, but you just do not feel like it?
1. Have a clear purpose for reaching your goal. Are you pursuing this goal because you feel it's expected or that others will be pleased with you if you do? If so this makes sticking with your goal very tricky. You can easily become resentful of the pressure to perform and may become rebellious when it comes to “the work”. You should examine and occasionally write down your reasons for taking on this task in the first place. What are your reasons for setting this goal? What do you expect to receive in return for attaining your goal? How “fun” does it need to be in order for it to be worth it to you? If you are going to school so you can get a specific job, the schooling may not need to be fun in order for the reward to be worth it. But what if it's a hobby you've always wanted to learn, like a musical instrument or a new language. If it's supposed to be fun make sure that it is. I recently started to learn to play the guitar, something I've always wanted to do. I have no intentions of making music my career, joining a band or even performing for others. I just want to learn for myself. So when I start to get frustrated in any way, I set it down. I may not progress as fast as I could if I just soldiered on but it would soon become a chore or burden if I did. I always remind myself WHY I am doing it in the first place. This is supposed to be fun. (* Almost 2 years in and I am still at it and have made significant improvements, all while while being a reliably painless process.)
2. Set a bunch of mini-goals or benchmarks along the way. If you are completely focused on the ultimate end result before you can give yourself any credit or enjoy what you have accomplished you are in for a very long road (or a very short one if you get frustrated and quit). By setting mini-goals, you get a continual sense of accomplishment along your entire journey. I like to look back at where I started and see the progress I've made. I figure if I've improved in any way there is no reason I can not continue to improve on what I am currently working on. Past success is future possibility.
3. Do a little research. Or a lot. I like to look at the entirety of what is coming along my attainment of my goal so I can wrap my head around it all from the beginning. It makes it easier to maintain your vision and keep track of where you are in the big picture if you've seen what is to come. Instead it may seem as if you will never reach your goal . You can never educate yourself too much on a given subject you are interested in. The library and the web are great free resources you can use to do this.
4. Give yourself a little wiggle room. You do not have to be perfect or do a perfect job along the way to attaining your goal. You may fall off or blow off the work you have committed to from time to time. This is OK and there is no need to beat yourself up over it. In fact you should be proud of yourself that you have even endeavored this goal in the first place. Putting undue pressure on yourself is not going to help you reach your goal and will only serve to make it an unpleasant experience. The key is to remind yourself why you are doing (or did) this in the first place and pick it back up where you left it, whether it is a day or even months later. Pick It Back Up! When I started to practice my guitar I “played” religiously every day for two months. Then I set it against a wall for six months. At that time it would seem like it was a failed endeavor. But I picked it up up, I did not beat myself up for all of the improvements I could have made in that time, and I never set it down again. Even with my six month hiatus I have made significant gains since I started and I now practice almost every day. I consider it a total success so far.
5. Set goals you can actually reach. If you are 4'11 “you will probably never win the NBA Dunk Contest. I would not try swimming across the Atlantic Ocean by yourself either. I think it is great to dream without any limitations. There is no reason not to. But if you set goals for yourself that no one, no matter the effort put forward could reach, you are only setting yourself up for failure. You may also endanger your safety as well. That being said, if anyone has ever even come close or it is in the realm of human capacity, follow the points of this article and see where it takes you. Shoot for the stars and you may hit the moon. You may be surprised.