Proven Ways to Stick to Your Goals When You Don’t Feel Motivated

girl standing on top of a mountain

Do you struggle to achieve your goals?

If you’re like me, a lot of your goals get thrown out in less than a week, and you just can’t muster the motivation to change. And being an overtired mom doesn’t help things any!

But science says there could be a couple ways to increase your chances of sticking to your goals by anywhere from 25%-56%.1
 Amazing, right? And these tips don’t have anything to do with gaining more motivation.

Trust me, next time I set out to acheive a goal, I’m going to be using these techniques.

Even if you have a track record of failing time and time again, you can become a goal-achieving machine by setting yourself up right.

The following tips are scientifically proven methods that will help you stick to your goals, even if you really struggle with staying motivated. So check em’ out!

How to Achieve Your Goals

Write Down a Plan 

The first tip to help you keep your objectives is simple; all you have to do is write down a plan for your goal.

But don’t just take my word for it. In 2002, a study in the British Journal of Health Psychology tracked what happened when people wrote down their exercise goals (and what happened when they didn’t).1

Take a look at this breakdown of the study below to learn a bit more.  

The Details

Over the span of two weeks, researchers examined three groups of people with similar exercise habits. The goal of the study was to see whether different interventions would cause these participants to become better at keeping their exercise goals.1

Group one acted as the control group. They weren’t given any intervention, but they were asked to write down how often they exercised over the next two weeks.1

Group two read a motivational pamphlet. The pamphlet talked about the positive effects of exercise on Coronary Heart Disease.1

Group three read the same pamphlet as group two AND was then asked to write down exactly where and when they would exercise during the week.1

The Results

After all the interventions:

  • 38% of the control group exercised at least once a week.
  • 35% of the pamphlet group exercised at least once a week.
  • 91% of the written plan group exercised at least once a week.1

In a Nutshell

Those who wrote down a plan for their goal were 53%-56% more successful at accomplishing it than those who simply thought about their goal.1

Even the people who read that motivational pamphlet (and reported being way more motivated than the people who didn’t read the pamphlet) did not exercise as much as those who wrote down a plan for their goals.1

The takeaway here? Stop trying to make and keep goals in your head!

You may think you’ll be able to motivate yourself all the way to success, but it won’t work. Unless you’re a crazy motivated person who’s just waaaaaay better at goals than I am 😉

So write your goals down with a specific plan detailing how, when, and where you’ll accomplish them each day. If you want to keep goals better than you have in the past, you have to change your ways!

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Report Your Progress 

While writing down a plan for your goals is a great place to start, there’s another helpful goal-achieving strategy that you shouldn’t overlook. It’s simple: keep a friend up-to-date on your progress.

A  cool study by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University of California actually tested the ‘update a friend’ method of goal-keeping (along with a few others).2

Here’s how it all went down:

The Details

People in this four-week study were anywhere from 23 years old to 72 years old, and they made goals about many different things. The study participants were divided into five groups.2

Group one was asked to think about goals they had for the next four weeks. They then rated their goals based on importance, difficulty, and a few other criteria.2

Group two was asked to do the same exercise as group one, but instead of only thinking about their goals, they wrote them down.2

Group three was asked to do the same things as group two, but they were also asked to write down action commitments for each goal.2

Group four was asked to do the same stuff as group three, and in addition, they shared their action commitments with a friend.2

Group five was asked to do the same steps as group four, but this group sent weekly updates to a friend about how their goals were going.2

Results

After all the interventions:

  • 42.8% of people in the thinking only group were successful* goal-achievers.
  • 60.8% of people in the written goals only group succeeded in achieving their goals.
  • 50.8% of people in the action commitment group succeeded at sticking to their goals.
  • 64.1% of people in the tell-a-friend group were successful at keeping their goals..
  • 76% of the weekly friend reports group successfully kept goals.2

* The study defined successful participants as people who fully accomplished their goals or were half-way finished their goals by the end of the study.2

In a Nutshell

Just like the previous exercise-goal study, this study found that writing down goals makes you more likely to succeed.1,2

But, there’s another important takeaway from this study:

People who reported their goal-progress to a friend each week were 25.2% more likely to succeed than those who wrote down goals but kept them private.2

Even just telling a friend about goals one time didn’t work as well as checking in weekly.2

So what does that mean for you? You’ve got to find someone reliable who can keep you accountable!

Tell this person about your goals and then keep checking in, weekly at the minimum, to let him or her know how you’re doing.

If you’re like me your first thought might be, ‘ugh, but it’s too much work’.

BUT, if you REALLY want to accomplish something, science says that finding a friend to track your progress is the way to do it.

If you absolutely can’t find a person to help you, you could check out the website http://www.stickk.com.

Stickk will let you enter a goal AND consequences of meeting/not meeting your goal. Then they hold you accountable! They’ll even transfer your hard-earned money to your arch enemy if you fail (but only if you ask them to).

How to Achieve Your Goals

Start Keeping Your Goals Today

Achieving Goals is mega hard, and while I’ve failed time and time again, it is NOT impossible for me OR you to succeed!

By writing down a plan and keeping yourself accountable to a friend, you can start sticking to your goals successfully, even if you haven’t been able to do it before.

So get out your pen and paper, call up a friend, and begin keeping your goals today. Because, you deserve to be a little bit better and a little bit happier, starting now.

Sources:

  1. Milne, S., Orbell, S., & Sheeran, P. (2002). Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions. British Journal Of Health Psychology, 7(2), 163-18.
  2. Matthews, G. (n.d.). Goals Research Summary(Rep.). Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.dominican.edu/academics/lae/undergraduate-programs/psych/faculty/assets-gail-matthews/researchsummary2.pdf

 

How to Achieve Your Goals

 

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