When it comes to achieving your goals, setting them is the easy part. All you have to do is write a list of what you want to accomplish. The problem is staying motivated enough, for long enough to achieve the set goals. The secret to success is using the times when you are motivated to set up and schedule small, repeatable steps that move you towards your bigger goal. By repeatedly achieving success in these daily practices, you will be motivated by your small achievements to continue with them.
What obstacles are keeping you from your goals?
It’s easy, when you don’t reach a certain goal or target, to blame it on bad luck. Some people blame themselves for setting goals that are too ambitious. That’s a dangerous thought pattern to hold on to. When you start thinking that your goals are too ambitious or too huge for you to achieve, it’s all too easy to become discouraged and lose your motivation for achieving them.
Before you give up altogether, ask yourself this:
Do you really think that the goals you set are too ambitious?
Or is that the disappointment talking because you didn’t achieve what you set out to do? (In our house we call that beating yourself up, and really, it gets you nowhere.)
What would happen if you decided to divide your big goals into smaller bite-sized pieces that were both doable and achievable on a daily basis?
According to Harvard Researcher Teresa Amabile, it is our small, daily progress that serves as the most powerful motivator at work. This means that if we want to be motivated on a daily basis then we have to see to it that our goals are achievable day by day. Also, for these sub-goals to be achievable they may have to be divided into even smaller chunks.
Huge tasks can seem overwhelming, but if we can check one to-do list item after another we feel fulfilled, and this supercharges our motivation by creating a positive reinforcement feedback loop.
The same is true in personal growth. The use of habit trackers has become common in many journaling circles, bullet journaling in particular. Creating a chart with the habits you want to build or change, or the steps of the project you’re working on and checking off what you accomplish each day does wonders for your confidence and your motivation.
Make recording your small, daily wins easier. Download a Free Printable 30-Day Habit Tracker.
Why setting easy goals helps keep you motivated
Experiencing success, no matter how small it can be, brings about a very positive feeling in a person. Why is this so? This is because feeling successful triggers the release of dopamine in the brain which is a hormone responsible for bringing about feelings of pleasure in an individual.
Neuroscientists link dopamine to motivation and learning. When an individual feels the pleasurable effects of dopamine they will have an urge to once again repeat the act that triggers feeling of pleasure. Experts refer to this process as “self-directed learning”.
As you learn that you are capable of achieving one goal after another, you are more likely to repeat that process in order to feel that “dopamine effect” all over again. This is why setting easier and achievable short-term goals is much more effective in helping a person achieve the bigger, long-term goals they seek.
The beauty of this method is that by fulfilling the smaller tasks, motivation to start and continue with the larger ones happen much more automatically, with less needed reliance on willpower and drive, as these occur then at a subconscious level.
The Link Between Easy Goals and Easy Change
Another reason why people fail to achieve their goals is their fear of leaving their comfort zone. In fact, all of us are like that – afraid to leave our comfort zones. This is a natural part of our make-up, as it was fear that kept our ancestors safe from predators. Today, however, this unconscious fear holds us back from so many successes we could achieve.
As a result, it’s easy to fall into the “I will, someday” habit. Unfortunately, someday never comes, and days, weeks and months pass by and you are still living in your comfort zone never taking the steps that could lead you to your best life. This is when setting easy and small goals will prove to be very effective.
By setting easy goals, you only have to make minor adjustments to your current state, which also mean that you won’t have to totally leave your comfort zone. This helps quiet that part of you that is afraid to fail if you take too big a step.
When you set small, easily achievable goals, you are moving beyond your comfort zone in a controlled manner. Think of it as just nudging the boundaries a little at a time. Achieving smaller goals will give you the feelings of success, confidence and motivation you need to keep working toward your big goals. And that’s how you get to live your best life… one small step at a time.
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