Let’s be real. The first step to self-improvement – setting goals for yourself, and planning it out on the calendar – is the easiest. Following through with your plans to realise your goals, however, can be far harder, especially when the grind becomes too much, your motivation dries up and you feel like giving up out of frustration.
If this has happened before, that’s all right – motivating yourself is hard, and procrastination is real. But these are also the times when you have to dig deep and encourage yourself to keep working towards your goals, and turning your coulds and shoulds into musts. Read on for some tips on how to do just that!
Create a goal you're interested in achieving
Before you set your goals for self-improvement, consider a few things first – your goal will likely be long-term, it’ll have a huge impact on your life and career and you’ll have to bind it to a timeframe (or you’ll never get there).
With all this considered, there’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to reach a goal you don’t even want to reach, even on days you feel motivated. To get around this, write up a personal vision statement and list the things you want to achieve!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to dream big! Even if your self-improvement goal seems out of reach, setting smaller targets within your goal can help you get there, one step at a time.
Make sure the entire process engages you
Since goals tend to be large and long-term affairs that can feel initially unattainable and demotivating, it’s best if you can break them down into smaller, more bite-sized objectives with elements that interest you and will keep you going.
On top of helping you keep track of progress, the act of completing these smaller objectives will make reaching your goal more fun and attainable, as seeing the results of your improving self can build your confidence and keep you motivated!
Tip: When the going gets tough, making objectives fun can keep you going!
Put it down in writing
According to Dr Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California, goal-setters who write down their goals have a higher chance of achieving them. This is because when they’re written down and placed in a position where you can see them, you’re able to keep reminding yourself of what you’re working towards.
In fact, it doesn’t matter what medium you choose – just putting your goals for self-improvement down in words makes it a physical target you can check and work towards!
Just because you’ve set a goal to improve yourself doesn’t mean that it’ll get moving by itself. Once you’ve set a goal and written it down along with your smaller objectives, start moving towards it. Although it can be a difficult and frustrating experience at times, the hardest part is often just taking that first step – it’ll get easier once you get into the swing of things and spark your motivation.
Eventually, you’ll realise that although you began this process consciously, it’ll gradually get to the point where you’ll subconsciously live out your objectives daily.
Don't blame yourself if things get slow
It’s normal to wake up one day and just not feel it. If this happens, it’s not an excuse to slob around for an indefinite period of time – that’s procrastination. Rather, you can remind yourself why you’re working towards improving yourself, reflect on your progress so far and take the opportunity to go slow for a bit. Then, pick yourself and continue moving at the same pace you were at before!
BONUS: Be kind to yourself
The act of pursuing a goal is by itself an uncomfortable experience – you’re going beyond your comfort zone and looking at a tough challenge in the eye. So, be kind to yourself and always remember to take the time to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.
On a similar note, don’t only hoard your celebrations for achieving your self-improvement goal – realising the objectives you set for yourself on the way to your goal is also noteworthy!
Keeping yourself motivated to reach a self-improvement goal isn't an easy task, especially when self-doubt and a lack of energy can already do you in before you even start. But here’s the thing – you don’t need a complex plan to get started – you just need to get moving and follow your plan. You’ll be working towards your self-improvement goal then!