Forward progress

There are those times in life when you really feel like you’re making significant progress toward a personal or professional goal that you set for yourself.  There could be a long-term goal that isn’t meant to happen overnight and you can finally see the finish line after years of plodding along.  It could be a short-term goal that you flew out of the blocks and have surpassed all expectations with blinding speed.

And sometimes you just can’t do anything right.

I’ve been there before.  I’m not the quickest to jump on an idea and run with it.  I’ve been that way in the past and I’ve been burned before by poor planning and fast burnout.  And I’ve had long-term goals that don’t happen in 24-48 hours and I’ve continued to make forward progress, even though it’s at a snail’s languid cousin’s pace.

And in both situations I’ve had the naysayers come along beside me as I’m slogging along, telling me it can’t be done or, even worse, telling me I haven’t really made the progress I thought I had made.

It’s during those times that I have to boost myself and tell myself that I can accomplish whatever I’ve put my mind to and that it isn’t an impossible goal.  I have a few things that I like to do to motivate myself.

  1.  Remember the goal.  There’s a reason you set a goal for yourself.  You wanted to be somewhere other than where you were.  You wanted to be further along.  You had a dream.  Whatever your goal, you’ve invested in it and you have planned out the steps to get there.  Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t make it wrong for you.  It’s not their goal, it’s yours.  They aren’t living in your life and they don’t fully understand your situation.  Whether you want to save to buy a car, get your degree for a career change, declutter your home, travel the world, lose weight, or just have some time set aside for yourself every week, you have set the goal before you and you believe in it enough to go after it.  And, hopefully, you believe enough in yourself to see it through.  You have a pace that is set, and your goal is your own.
  2. Take active steps.  The simplest, and hardest, part of any goal is taking the next step.  This is the part that requires the good planning and determination.  Lay it all out,  Evaluate whether you have what you need to start your goal AND see it through to the end.  And then just start.  This tends to be the most difficult step for people since we are ensnared by our own fears, self-doubts, and lack of discipline.  There will be those who try to hinder you in some form or fashion due to their own short-comings, but a well-laid plan will tend to be more successful when you’ve planned each step and are determined to see it through.  When the nay-sayers come at you….
  3. Evaluate their words.  There are those who mean well, but have no idea how to present constructive criticism.  It ends up just being criticism.  When their sharp words come flying at you like javelins, remember to raise your shield. You have to evaluate their words and decide if they are being petty or if they hold valid concerns.  These statements may come at the beginning of your goal-setting process if you seek advice.  Whenever it comes, know that there are those people who mean well, but can’t say it in a kind and caring way, and there are those who mean well and speak incredible wisdom.  For the latter, it may be wise to heed their advice in advance so you don’t make an incredible error.  However, if there are those who consistently tell you “you can’t” so that you do not surpass them for any reason, recognize that their own insecurities are being put on display for all to see.  It says more about them than it does about you.  If they want to throw a dart at every word, idea, and action you have, keep your chin up.  Keep up the..
  4. Positive self-talk.  Cheer yourself on, even if no one else will.  Or you may have private goals that you have set for yourself and you can easily defeat yourself with your own words, thoughts, and inactions.  Keep yourself motivated.  Post your goals on sticky notes, if that’s what it takes.  Put a reminder on your phone that pops up in the afternoon that says “You’re awesome!” “You can lose that last 5 pounds!” “You almost have that down payment!” (and set it to repeat every day, if you need to). Remind yourself that you are fully capable of accomplishing what you set your mind to.  Find a mantra, or make up your own.

There are plenty of times to stop and re-evaluate your goal and the steps toward it if things just aren’t working out.  That’s why pencils come with erasers.  That’s why there’s a backspace button on a keyboard.  But if your pace is good and you are seeing progress, keep on keeping on.

No one is more capable of reaching your goals than you.

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