Whether you want to start a business, lose weight, get in shape, learn a new skill or climb a literal mountain, learning how to stay focused on your goals is incredibly important for making progress and achieving what you want in life.
Too often, people make goals and then never take steps to achieve them, mostly because they’re scared or they’ve gotten distracted from what they wanted to do.
This is usually the case when the goal is far away or requires a lot of hard work, as, for most of us, we want immediate gratification and we want things to come easily.
When they don’t, we’re running for the hills or the remote to binge watch the next new series on Netflix.
If you’re one of those people who have problems focusing on your goals and want to learn how to stay focused on what you want, this guide contains all of the years of advice I’ve learned from being someone who has trained myself to be able to keep pushing towards my goals.
At the end of the day, nobody can make you stay focused on your goals.
It’s your job and your job alone to make sure that you’re progressing towards what you want, because no matter how much somebody else cares for you, they’ll never care about you more than you.
So if you find that you don’t care enough about your goals and you aren’t taking accountability for reaching them, reevaluate what your goals are and why you feel that one.
Once you’ve set a goal that you want and believe in, here are 17 tips for staying focused on your goals and sticking to a plan even when you want to do anything but.
Best tools for Productivity
1. Write Your Goal Somewhere You Can See It Everyday
Put it on the bathroom mirror, put it at your desk at the office, put it as the lock screen on your phone.
Use a bullet journal like this one to keep yourself motivated.
Wherever you can think of, it needs to be there, staring you in the face, constantly reminding you what your purpose is and not letting you forget about it easily.
This way, we hold ourselves more accountable to reaching those goals because we have put a system in place that means we are constantly thinking about it and looking at it.
And if we decide not to try and reach the goal or don’t want to see that reminder anymore, we have to physically remove it from our workspace or room, and that act alone is enough to make you second guess whether you really want to give up.
2. Do a Meditation in the Mornings about your Goal and Make it a Habit
Every morning, you should start out with some sort of meditation about your goal and make it a habit.
This isn’t to say that you have to actually meditate each morning, but rather meditate on the goal.
For me, this is by making my to-do list each morning, thinking about what I ultimately want to achieve and then planning my day to get myself closer to that goal.
For others, it might be listening to some calming music and just thinking about your goal and picturing yourself achieving it.
If you don’t have a lot of time, it can really be as simple as 10-15 seconds before you get out of bed of repeating a mantra or other positive statement related to your goal in your head.
This can also help keep you calm when stressed.
The most important thing is that you do this daily.
Use a habit tracker like I talk about in my list of tools to help you get things done to keep track of when you’re doing it so it becomes ingrained in you and you no longer have to think harder about doing it.
I also love habit trackers like this one that’s printable.
3. Tell Other People About Your Goal
I don’t believe in relying on other people for accountability in the same way you should yourself, ie, if you don’t achieve your goal, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.
However, there can be good that comes from societal pressure to reach your goal and I would recommend you take full advantage of that to help you stay focused on your goals.
For instance, if you’re wanting to lose weight, tell your office about it so that you instantly feel judged every time you go for a donut from the break room.
Sounds harsh, but sometimes knowing that other people are watching is exactly what we need to rethink our decisions and make sure that we’re committed to making our goals happen and improving our productivity.
4. Look at Inspirational Pictures or Read Inspirational Stories Relating to Your Goal
You don’t have to make a full on mood board (though you can if you want), but you should absolutely be reading inspirational stories or looking at inspirational pictures to help you stay focused on your goals.
If you’re wanting to lose weight and get toned, you could look at photos of people with your same build who have achieved the look you want to achieve. If your biggest goal in life is to save up for a Disney cruisie to take the family on a tropical getaway, then you should be looking at videos or photos of people on Disney cruises to help picture yourself there.
The same goes for bigger goals like wanting to start a profitable blog, wanting to be a screenwriter, etc.
One of my biggest tips for how to stay focused on your goals is to continually surround yourself with examples of people who have achieved them, because if they can, then you can to.
5. Break Your Goal Down into Small Chunks
Part of the reason we lose track of our goals and stop working towards them is because we get overwhelmed.
If my ultimate goal is to write a novel and I sit down with no plan or idea of what steps I’ll need to take to get there, it would be very easy to give up on Day 2 when I’m just muddling through.
Instead, you need to break your goal down into smaller chunks that you can cross off as you go.
If I were writing a novel, I would first need to have the basic idea, then the basic outline, then a more complete outline, and then I would need to go chapter by chapter or paragraph by paragraph putting the words together.
Once you have that chunking system in place, you’re much more motivated to work towards your goals each day because you can actually feel as though you’ve accomplished something.
If it takes, say, 6 months to write a novel, it’s very difficult for the average human to go 6 months without feeling a sense of achievement.
But if you have chunked it down and now can achieve something each day and each week that build up to your bigger goal?
6. Set a Scheduled Time Each Day to Work Towards Your Goal
We achieve what we make time for.
I could easily go through an entire day not achieving anything if I didn’t schedule my time, because everything else would take priority.
I could clean the whole house, watch a movie, do random things on the internet that feel like they’re helpful but really aren’t, etc.
In order to work towards your goal, you need to make sure you have given yourself time each day to work on it.
This can differ depending on how you like to work. I like to go hour by hour and schedule what I’m doing then, but sometimes I can even break it down into 15 minute increments when it comes to small tasks or things like taking a break.
You can also schedule your day by scheduling your free time, and then just using all of your other time to work towards your goals.
Whatever it is, make the time.
If you go weeks and weeks without working on your goal, it’s so much harder to get back into it than it is to keep going with it.
Why make it harder on yourself?
ClickUp is one of the best ways to organize your time and really see where you’re spending it.
7. Eliminate as Many Life Distractions as Possible
Life has a really funny way of getting in the way.
The dishwasher is broken, you’ve got 100 e-mails in your inbox, you need to go grocery shopping, you experience a family tragedy, the list goes on.
If you let it, life is going to steamroll your plans for achieving your goals in no time.
You need to do the best you can to eliminate as many life distractions as possible, and when you can’t eliminate them or delgate them, you need to make sure they’re scheduled for a particular day or time.
You could spend 30 minutes calling the dishwasher repair people, doing an online grocery shop, and unsubscribing from 10 e-mail lists you no longer want to be on, or you could spend all day doing these tasks if you give yourself that time.
Life is short, and it’s also distracting.
But you’ll never build the life you want or achieve the goal you want if you life your life in a reactive way that lets everything else get in the way.
8. Put a Reward in Place for When You Reach Your Goal
For many goals, the act of achieving them and getting that reward will be huge for us, but you don’t have to stop there.
Sometimes, a little bit of extra motiviation can keep us focused and encourage us along.
For instance, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you can also say that when you do that, you’ll treat yourself to a weekend away that you’ve been wanting to go on.
Or if your goal is monetary, like making $10,000 a month on your blog, then you could say that you’re going to buy yourself the designer purse you’ve been keeping your eye on.
You can also do this for smaller goals, like if you lose weight this week, you’ll go to the spa for the afternoon, or if you achieve 5 chapters in your book, you’ll go out to dinner with a friend.
If you can make sure to keep yourself accountable and hold off on doing these rewards unti you achieve whatever bar you’ve set, you’ve now given yourself extra incentive to stay focused.
9. Stop Making Excuses
At the end of the day, most of us fail because we make excuses.
It’s too hard, it will take too long, I don’t have time, I’m not good enough.
Seriously, shut up.
Stop making excuses as to why it’s so hard to stay focused on your goals.
The more you talk about or go on about why it’s so hard and feeling sorry for yourself, the less energy you’re going to have to actually achieve the goals.
People who make excuses are people who don’t achieve what they want.
Sure, things are going to come up and you are going to find things hard or draining and you may feel crap about yourself at times.
But cut the excuses and get back to work because you’re better than that.
10. Think About the Positive Things That Will Come from Reaching Your Goal
In addition to that steak dinner you’ve promised yourself, think about the positive benefits of reaching your goal without any extra rewards.
Will you feel better about yourself? Will you feel more accomplished?
Will you fit into your favorite pair of jeans? Will you have financial freedoms? Will you be fulfilled every day when you wake up to work?
Most of us set goals because we want to be better and we want to achieve things, and these achievements don’t exist in a vaccuum.
We achieve because other areas of our life are better for it, and because the whole point of being on this planet is to do stuff, not just to sit around and stare at the walls.
Try and make a list of the positive things that will come from reaching your goal, and keep these next to the written down statement of what your goal actually is.
11. Respect Yourself Enough to Keep Working
Have some respect for yourself, enough to know that you should keep working towards your goals.
Don’t fail at achieving your goals because you feel like you’re not good enough or not worthy enough, because those are just silly thoughts in your head that aren’t reality.
People who respect themselves achieve more, because they respect themselves enough to look out for the “future them” who is happy and successful in whatever their goal was.
Have some compassion for yourself, pick yourself up after days where you went haywire, and build up that internal self-esteem and respect because you will start holding yourself to a higher standard and you’ll start achieving more.