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How To Stay Motivated And Focused On Your Goals

How To Stay Motivated And Focused On Your Goals


DATE: 02 October, 2023

Are you holding yourself back from achieving your goals? If you have experienced or thought of any of these nine things below, then you have what I call ‘weakness waves'. Most of us do and there are ways to recognise them and overcome them:

  1. You start a project but then you stop and keep putting it off
  2. You say you will speak to your boss about something but you find excuses to avoid it
  3. You promise to do that course you have been meaning to do but you are always too busy
  4. Your to-do list has much of the same things on it this week as it did last
  5. You think you're not good enough to do something at work for fear of what your colleagues may think, so you don't bother
  6. You lack motivation and don't have any goals, or the goals you set are merely a list once written and never looked at again
  7. You focus on the negatives
  8. You constantly procrastinate
  9. You say you are going to start gym or exercise or give up chocolate or alcohol for a period, but you don't stick to it.

Recognise any of them? I certainly do. I can be quite disciplined, but I do recognise and have experienced many of these. Sometimes I get it right, but every now and then I am overcome by a ‘weakness wave' and it all goes out the window.

We all have dreams of what we would like to do, who we would like to be and where we'd like to be by when. These dreams are accompanied by good intentions and a promise of a more fulfilled life, a better you or a sense of pride and accomplishment. But somehow, when it comes time to act on these dreams, we often disappoint ourselves.

Why does our ‘weakness wave', despite our best intentions, hold us back? And do others experience the same and if so, how do they deal with it?

u0022The good news is that building your resilience and ability to stick to something can be learned, but it takes practice and there are steps you can take to help.u0022

Our lives are busy and complex so why make it worse by beating ourselves up with thoughts like “I'm a failure, I'm weak, I can't do this, I'm lazy, this is too hard.” All these do is weaken our resolve and lead to an endless list of excuses because the pain of being honest with ourselves is too much.

It is frustrating and demotivating and it can negatively impact our mental health and with this, feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem. 

‘Weakness waves' are caused by distractions, a lack of motivation, self-doubt, peer pressure, etc. All it takes for some is negative feedback or doubt from a family member, your boss, a work colleague or a friend and we can start doubting our abilities which can impact motivation.

Layer on top of that a death or sickness in the family, personal illness, losing a job or any of a hundred other unplanned setbacks and suddenly we have a myriad of external events that can seriously challenge our resolve and crash our dreams and aspirations.

But there are ways to help manage this.

Which side of you is winning right now? Is it the strong, disciplined self or is the ‘weakness wave' drowning you?

Here are some of the ways to get your dreams, goals and aspirations back on track:

  1. Know before you start:
    Take time to plan how the changes you want to make will impact your day, your nights, your family time, your social time, etc. Then think about what you need to do to manage or lessen this impact. By controlling your environment with a little forward planning, you can go a long way to avoiding temptations to take you off course.
  2. Chunk it down—create small, easy steps.
    If it is too hard at the start you create more resistance and you unwittingly ambush your resolve. 

    Pragya Agarwal, the Visiting Professor of Social Inequities and Injustice, Loughborough University says in this article In The Conversation: “The more we focus on the goal rather than the incremental steps needed to achieve that goal, the more likely we are to find it difficult to change our mindsets and create the habits needed to achieve it. It becomes a vicious circle because the more we get stressed about something, the more likely we are to fall back into a place of comfort, with our cognitive shortcuts.”
  1. Be honest with yourself:
    Ask why you are doing this, how badly you want it and what you are willing to do or give up to make it happen?
  2. Share your dream/goal:
    This could be with your boss, a work colleague, your partner, or a friend. Accountability to someone else can be very powerful to help you achieve your goals. You may also need to lean on that person to restrengthen your resolve. You don't have to do this alone.
  1. Positive self-talk:
    A lot of successful athletes and businesspeople use this technique. I need to use it from time to time because our minds are strangely good at sabotaging us with thoughts like: “I'm not good enough, I'm not ready, I can't do this, I'm an imposter.” Push these aside and combat them with positive affirmation – “I know can do this, I am well on track, imagine how I will feel if I stop now, it is going to be so worth it,” etc.
  2. “I get knocked down but I get up again…”
    The chances are you may fail at times but you need to pick yourself up, reaffirm that you and your goals are on track, that this is a minor setback and that it's OK. It's important to be kind to yourself, learn from the setback, flick it and move on.
  1. Don't blame others and don't be a victim
    We have choices every day and it is up to us to stick to these or not. Don't, if you fall victim to the ‘weakness wave', start blaming others or make yourself out to be a victim of circumstance. Instead think about how you could have handled the situation better, how you could have avoided it and what you can do to avoid it in future.

From personal experience I know my resolve is like a muscle, I can and have trained it to be strong. And the stronger it gets the easier to stick to my goals and repel the ‘weakness waves'. The alternative is typically always negative—reduced productivity, a decrease in physical health and wellbeing, lower self-esteem and increased stress and anxiety.

We all have it in us to kick those ‘weakness waves', it may take a while and you may miss the feelings that came with the old satisfactions, but by winning you create new interests and activities that, in time, will replace and overcome the old patterns and satisfactions.