7 Ways to Keep Yourself on Track
So, this time it's for real. Right? You’re finally determined to lose weight. Get into shape, quit that soul-sucking job [fill in the blank].
But then something happens, and a valid excuse presents itself. So we don't wind up doing the exciting, scary, life-changing thing we were committed to do. Maybe we eat salads at our desks for a few weeks or update our LinkedIn profile, but that's as far as it gets.
How do we make the leap from thinking about doing something to actually doing something?
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.” — Albert Einstein
I can't claim to be a total expert on this. There are many things that I'd like to do or am in the process of doing that may never quite fall under the done category.
However, I do have a decent track record of completing a good number of the seemingly ridiculous, improbable things that I set out to do —
Like moving 1,865 miles from home at age 17 (from Connecticut to Boulder, Colorado), living on top of a mountain at 9800' altitude, traveling to four of the seven of the world's continents, building several profitable businesses, and relocating to Florida. For now.
Here's what has worked for me:
1. Write it down.
Then start mapping out your path.
We all know that putting pen to paper is one of the best ways to make things happen. But taking it a bit further helps even more; start compiling the information that will bridge the gap between what's inside your head and what's out.
Map out your end game (the master's degree, the successful blog, the beautiful home you think you could never afford) and work backward from there, breaking your big, huge goal down into teeny, tiny steps attached to a timeline.
If you want to own a home by June of 2025, what do you need to have done to make that happen? What's needed at different at several different points during the process?
Make a list of tiny steps, then do one — just one! — today.
2. Tell everyone you know about it.
Now’s the time to ‘blow your own horn’, you are actually doing this: the research, the footwork, the small, yet important roots of progress – and you are genuinely stoked about it. (As you should be.) And it's awesome! Tell everybody and anybody. Anyone worth knowing will be excited for you and will feed your enthusiasm.
You'll also be a lot less likely to back out, because everyone will be asking you about it. Shame can be a great motivator, so you might as well harness it to work to your advantage!
You'll be less likely to give up ~
If you're feeling ambitious, ask a close friend if they'd be willing to keep tabs on your progress and ask about your big project. Knowing that someone else is involved and anticipating results will help you stay on top of your game.
3. Spend money on it.
I don't know about you, but I am exponentially more likely to complete my goal once I've spent money on it. Because then it makes it real.
Every time you look at that big, expensive textbook, the lush paint brushes, or the high-tech running shoes, you'll be that much more likely to act. You'll see them every day and think about the fantastic new life you're going to have, which should make you take even more steps toward getting there.
4. Remove distractions.
Is there a way you can make this easier for yourself? Could you have money auto-deducted from each paycheck, so you don't even have to think about saving it?
If you're trying to eat healthier, get rid of all your junk food, stock your fridge with healthy snacks and bring lunch to work every day. If you want a less connected life, cancel your data plan.
5. Surround yourself with other doers.
We're the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so why wouldn't you want to spend time with other interesting, driven people who are pursuing their dreams? You can encourage each other, share resources, and give each other pep talks when you encounter obstacles. All that good energy is socially contagious.
6. Make it irreversible.
Go big or go home, right? When you're serious about something, and you know that it's the right choice – jump off the cliff and don't allow yourself the luxury of a backup plan. Buy a one-way, nonrefundable ticket, slide your letter of resignation under your boss's locked door, drop that love letter into one of those impenetrable blue mailboxes. You've put yourself at the mercy of fate, and you're going to have so much fun.
7. Know that doing begets more doing.
I've really found that one act of doing begets another. Once you've published your novella, you know that you are totally capable of moving to Lisbon on your own. And after you've negotiated a lease in Portuguese, you can't be deterred from starting an import business. Hiking through Nepal, learning to speak Hindi, touring Paris in four-inch heels — all these things are totally doable, you go-getter, you!
What do you do to help bridge the gap between goals in your head and your day-to-day life?