Staying Motivated To Reach Your Goals

by Ramona Creel

Break Your Goals Down

Do you know why 90% of us don't keep our New Year's resolutions? Because our goals are too big and too vague and just too dadgummed overwhelming to seem practical. You have to make your dreams feel achievable, and that means dividing them up into smaller “mini-goals.” Instead of telling yourself that you want to “get organized,” try breaking that goal down into something more manageable — bite-sized and concrete. “Clean out all clothes that haven't been worn in a year” or “move all of the sports equipment to the garage” gives you a solid place to start — then you can move on to another small goal that will take you one step closer to “getting organized.”

You don't have to commit hours of uninterrupted effort if you want to accomplish a goal. But the greatest advances are often the sum total of a series of small efforts. When you're organizing, that means a drawer here, a cabinet there, maybe a closet. Once you have set your goals for the year, commit to spending 15 minutes each day doing something that will move you closer to accomplishing that goal. You will be amazed at how quickly you progress!

Create Incentives

The worst deadline you can set for accomplishing a goal is “over the next year” — too easy to put things off, no time frame to keep you on track, and too much room for slacking. Sometimes it's best to paint yourself into a corner if you want to get a project done. If your goal is to clean out the guest bedroom closet, invite company over (you want your friends and family to feel comfortable in your home, without having to move stacks and piles to find a place to sleep — and then there's the potential embarrassment if they were to see your mess!) Make a commitment to someone else — knowing that other people are counting on you is often just the little “push” you need to get moving.

And have you thought about finding an “accountability buddy” with which to work? This trick isn't just for the gym! Do you have a friend who can help out with some of your organizing projects? Who can make sure you set aside the time to sort and purge when you might not do it on your own? Two people will get more done in shorter period of time — and you will be less inclined to keep a bunch of junk you don't need with your best buddy asking why you're hanging on to it. Just remember that you will be expected to reciprocate when your friend gets ready to clean out. And if you can't recruit any free help, consider bringing in a Professional Organizer — someone who can be objective about your clutter.

Share Your Plans

The best way to make yourself accountable for accomplishing your goals is to tell other people about your plans. The minute you spread the word that you are working on a project, people become interested in your progress. “Hey, how are you doing getting that garage in order?” Every time you hear those words, one of two things will happen. Either you will feel inspired to dig back in and get to work — or you will feel lousy because you haven't made any progress. Option A gets you moving, while Option B tells you that something is out of alignment and lets you know that you need to re-evaluate and possibly adjust your goals. Either one is a step in the right direction.

But it's also important that you be accountable to yourself. Repetition is the mother of success, so you need to remind yourself of your goals everyday.  Pick your most important goal this year, and turn it into a one-sentence “mantra.” Your mantra should be in the form of an affirmation — a statement phrased as though you have already accomplished your goal (“I am the master of my time” or “I live in a clutter-free environment.”) Repeat this mantra first thing when you get up, last thing before you go to bed, when you are driving in the car, as you take a shower. Post sticky notes with your mantra on it around your home and office. Pretty soon, this will become your natural way of thinking — keeping you going when you run into a roadblock.

And don't forget that if you write a goal down, it is more likely to come to fruition. There is something about the act of putting your thoughts (any thoughts) on paper that makes you more committed to the outcome. You have invested time and energy writing your goals down — what a waste if you didn't actually go through with them (not to mention that it's wonderfully therapeutic to cross an item off of your list once you complete it!) The best thing about writing your goals down is that you have something physical to hold in your hand and refer back to when you need a boost. But this doesn't mean skimming the page and marveling at how many things you haven't done yet. You must also ask yourself some questions about each goal — why haven't I made more progress on this goal? What's getting in my way? Is this goal still important to me? If your priorities have changed, drop it from your list. You have enough important things to do — you don't need to sweat over not accomplishing an unimportant task.

Enjoy Your Successes

When was the last time you really acknowledged the fact that you accomplished an important goal? Too often, we simply charge into the next task on our list without really appreciating our achievements. Next time, spend a few minutes reflecting on your accomplishment — remembering the time and effort you invested and savoring the feeling of completion. This will refresh and renew your enthusiasm to continue on with your next goal. Without that moment of pause, you will eventually burn yourself out and lose all sense of motivation. There's is a lot of wisdom in the old idea of a “carrot and stick” — so remember to attach a reward to each goal as you make your plans for this year, something commensurate with the amount of work you will have to do to reach that finish line. And be consistent about rewarding yourself for every accomplishment, no matter how small. You deserve it!

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.