Setting goals is a natural part of our personal growth and development. Sometimes the goals we set are small (re-painting the bedroom or framing and hanging photos in your living room), sometimes they’re big (buying a new car or a house), and sometimes they are all about bettering yourself and/or learning something new (losing weight, getting a degree or learning a new skill.) We can set goals for almost any personal or professional aim. Setting a goal and retaining motivation to reach it, though, can be two very different things requiring time, patience and commitment.
From the outset, avoid comparing yourself to others. This can lead to discouragement before you even get started. Looking at someone who has achieved your desire – a published author, for example – may lead you to wonder how you can ever complete writing and publishing something of your own. Theodore Roosevelt wisely stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Any goal that you set for yourself is going to be in pursuit of some great joy, passion, or something you hope to achieve for yourself. Why steal your own joy by comparing yourself to others? The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Tracking your progress is smart; so is enjoying your progress and milestones along the way. It’s not always about crossing things off your to-do list – there’s a lot of truth to the maxim that the joy is in the journey. If we are so focused on when we get “there,” we can miss significant moments along the way.
Writing down your purpose or mission statement can be a powerful motivator. Keep it somewhere you’ll see it often. It’s imperative to know your “why” – why do you want to achieve this goal, what will it mean for you, what is truly driving you. Why do you want to learn graphic design? “I want a new and more fulfilling, creative career.” Why do you want to lose weight? “I want to feel good, be healthy and be around a long time for my family.” Why do you want to learn a new language? “I want to open up job opportunities and have the ability to travel to foreign countries because I speak the language.” Whatever your “why” – it needs to be powerful and compelling to you. Having a strong why is what will get you through those times when you feel your commitment fading – and there will be those times.
As you move ahead towards your goal, you may find times you take two steps forward and one step back. This is normal and nothing to get discouraged about. Experiencing setbacks is part of the human experience. When you can roll with the punches and reframe setbacks as an opportunity to learn, you’ll be building your success muscles and your confidence, because you know you can handle what comes your way. Learn to see setbacks as part of the journey to success.
Focusing on your specific vision is another tool that will help you maintain motivation. See yourself in skinny jeans or coming across the finish line of a 10-K. Envision yourself working as graphic designer for a company you admire. No goal was ever achieved without first having a vision – it’s the foundation of any accomplishment. Hold onto your vision when the going gets tough – believe that it can be yours. Your mindset is key – know and believe that you’re on your way. Live into your picture and it will become your reality. Give it all you’ve got. You can do this.