Episode 42: How to Stay Focused on Your Goals When You’ve Lost Motivation

It’s no secret that I love setting goals. 

There is so much value in regularly challenging ourselves to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new.

In fact, I’d argue that the most valuable part of working toward a goal isn’t actually reaching the goal.

Instead, it is the person you become along the way to the end destination. 

With that being said, it’s easy to overlook the beauty of this journey as well. 

When we’ve worked on the same goal for weeks, months, and even years, many of us quickly disregard – or entirely miss – the areas of growth we’ve experienced along the way. 

Instead, we tell ourselves that we should have “reached our goal by now.”

We quickly forget all of the lessons we’ve learned while working toward our goal, and instead, we start feeling overwhelmed.

We feel confused about what to try next.

And we get frustrated because nothing works fast enough.

And since we can’t find the one quick-fix that helps us reach our goal instantly, we’re tempted to throw in the towel and return to what’s familiar and easy.

Has this ever happened to you? Can you hear yourself in a scenario like this?

If so, then you’re going to love this episode.

In it, I share my latest powerful strategies to recall your small wins, recognize the growth you’ve experienced, and rediscover your motivation to keep working toward your goal.

Check out episode 42 below or tune in on your favorite podcasting app.

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the full transcript.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • The overlooked reason why we set goals for ourselves
  • Why we lose our motivation when working toward long-term goals
  • 3 simple tools to rediscover your motivation and commitment
  • How you can apply these tools in your daily life to keep working toward your goals no matter what

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

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How to stay focused on your goals when you’ve lost motivation (Transcript)

Hey, friends! Welcome to the podcast. Thanks for tuning in today. What’s happening? How’s your week going?

Today we’re going to talk about goals. And more specifically, how to stay focused on your long-term goals when you may have lost a bit of your motivation. 

Now, it’s no secret that I love goals. I think there is so much value in setting goals for ourselves regularly. And as I’ve talked about in earlier episodes, that value isn’t necessarily in the actual reaching of those goals – though, that’s certainly fun, too. Rather, the real value of setting and working toward goals is the person you become in the reaching of that goal.

You see, every time you set a goal for yourself, you challenge yourself to try something new. You challenge yourself to learn new skills, to try new things, and to step outside of your comfort zone. And when you do this, you are – quite literally – becoming the next version of yourself. It is all of those new skills and experiences, the strategic byproducts if you will, that allow you to reach that end goal. 

And I love that. Because we all – at least everyone listening to this podcast, I’m guessing – has that drive inside of us to continue growing and expanding in new ways, right? And seriously, what could be a better way to make that growth happen than through setting incredible goals for ourselves?

Losing Motivation

Now, with all of that being said, I think we can overlook the beauty within this journey, too. I know I can.

And this is especially true when we’re working on a relatively long-term goal. In fact, what I’ve seen for both my clients and myself is the tendency to push aside the small wins. You know what I’m talking about, right? When we’ve been working on the same goal for months upon months, it’s easy to overlook the areas of growth we’ve experienced and instead start telling ourselves we should have “reached our goal by now.”

And then when you add repeated failures into the goal process as you figure out the next piece of the puzzle, that end goal seems pretty far away. We seem to quickly forget all of those strategic byproducts we’ve accumulated and instead we start feeling overwhelmed and confused about what to do next and frustrated because nothing seems to work.

And since we can’t seem to figure out the one quick-fix that will get us to our end-goal instantly, and we’re totally discouraged, we’re tempted to throw in the towel and go back to what’s familiar and easy.

Has this ever happened to you? Can you hear yourself in a scenario like this?

If so, then you’re going to love this episode, because I’m going to share with you my latest favorite strategies to finally recognize those small wins you’ve already made, and rediscover your motivation and commitment to keep taking action on that goal.

Grab Your Freebie

Now before we talk through these strategies, I first want to remind you about the 30 day goal challenge workbook that I created just for you. It walks you step-by-step through choosing a 30 day goal, breaking it down step by step, and creating a clear plan to get you to that end goal, even if you have an unpredictable schedule or minimal time. 

So if you haven’t grabbed this book yet, you can either head to today’s show notes at imbusybeingawesome.com/episode42 or simply text the word AWESOME to 917-905-8801. You will get a response back that asks for your email address, and when you enter your email, I will send a link directly to your email where you can get the workbook at a time that’s convenient for you.

Goal Stages

Alright, let’s dive into the strategies.

There are several different approaches we can use to help us shift our thinking and get us feeling motivated to move forward on our long-term goals. And what I’ve found for both myself and my clients is that some strategies work better than others depending on what stage of the goal you’re in. 

In other words, if you’re just starting out on your goal, the thoughts and feelings you need to get started and keep working toward the end goal are likely different from the ones you might need in the middle of the process when you’ve been working on the goal for quite a while. And those thoughts and feelings are likely different from what you’ll generate toward the end of the process when you’ve almost reached your goal.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t use the same strategies the entire time. But what I’ve found is that some seem to resonate more with people depending on where they are in their journey.

Middle Ground

And today, I want to focus on that middle ground, which many of my clients find to be the most challenging part.

You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s that long middle period of the goal when the initial excitement and novelty have worn off, but you haven’t yet reached that “light at the end of the tunnel” push. Instead, you’re in that middle space where you’re continually trying and failing and trying and failing as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. And because – as a general rule of thumb – failing isn’t super fun, many of us need to dig a little deeper and try on some new thoughts to keep those feelings of commitment and focus and follow-through strong.

So today I’m going to share with you three powerful tools that you can use today to help you shift your mindset, regain your focus and motivation, and keep working toward that big goal of yours, even when you’re deep into it.

Looking Ahead

Now, the first strategy I want to suggest to you may sound a little strange at first but stick with me because I promise it’s powerful.

And that strategy is writing a letter to yourself right now from your future self. 

What?!

Don’t worry, I’ll explain. But I’m going to do it in a slightly indirect way, so again, stick with me.

Past Self

I want you to take a minute and think back to a time in your life when you were working toward a challenging goal. And when you were working on that challenging goal, think about a time when you were feeling frustrated, or when you considered throwing in the towel. Maybe you questioned whether you’d be able to stick with it or not.

Can you think of a time when you were in a situation like this?

Okay, now that you have that time in your mind, and you’ve remembered the discouraging thoughts you had racing through your mind, I now want you to think about what you would tell yourself if you could go back give her a glimpse into the future. What would you tell her to help her keep moving forward?

So when I do this exercise, the scenario that comes to mind is grad school. Seriously, when I was sitting the exams and then writing my dissertation after that, there were weeks and even months when I didn’t know if I was going to stick with it. I was so tempted to just call it quits.

And when I look back to Paula of 7-8 years ago, I want to tell her so much. First of all, I’d say, Paula, you’ve got to get more sleep.  And then second of all, I’d say keep at it. You should absolutely keep working toward the end goal. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you’re absolutely going to get there. And what’s more, you’re going to do incredible things, and you’ll learn so much about yourself, and you’ll become a much stronger person along the way, too. So don’t give up. You’ve got this. You can absolutely do hard things. 

Future Self

Okay, so now that you’ve done that exercise, I now want you to think ahead to your future self. I want you to think ahead to several months after you’ve reached that big goal you’re working on right now. Imagine what she’s thinking. Imagine the emotions she’s feeling. And imagine how she’s showing up now that she’s successfully reached that goal. And from that space and that perspective, I want you to write yourself a letter. 

What would she tell you about how you’re feeling right now? What advice would she give you about how to move forward? And what are her thoughts about your current circumstance? 

I promise you that if you give yourself some time to really explore this perspective, and if you allow yourself to tap into the wisdom of your future self, you will find that nudge you need to keep moving forward. 

Client Example

I was working with a woman last week who has a day job, she is building her side business, and like most parents of school-aged kids, she’s also homeschooling now since everyone is at home.

Well, in our last session, she mentioned she basically stopped working toward her business goal for the second quarter. She couldn’t find the time she wanted to work on her business and she didn’t have the energy to put into scaling the way she originally planned. 

So we decided to jump way into the future. We looked ahead to her future self three years from now to see what advice she might give her current self today. And doing this exercise allowed my client to create some distance from her current thoughts and think about the bigger picture.

And the advice she got from her future self was that this:

This is the quarter when you really streamlined the systems that you’d figured out over the past year and really get them locked in. But you’ll also experiment a bit with a few new ideas you’d been considering, too. This is the season where you’re in the trenches and learning so much about yourself and your business along the way. It’s true that it’s not what you had originally anticipated when you created your business plan for the year, but you grow so much during this period, and so will your business. So keep at it. This is where the magic happens. 

Seriously, how powerful is that? I got chills FOR HER when we worked on this together. So I’m telling you – if you feel frustrated, or if you don’t have the motivation you want, check in with your future self. I bet that she has some powerful thoughts and advice to offer you.

Find Evidence

Alright, now the second strategy I want to share with you takes the opposite approach of what we just did. And this idea stems from a concept I learned in my MasterMind last week that focuses on finding evidence that you are, indeed, making progress. 

You see, often when we’re working on a goal, so many of us tend to overlook all of the incredible work that we’ve accomplished along the way. For some reason, we quickly disregard – or worse, we don’t even recognize – all of those small wins that we worked so hard to get because we haven’t reached the end destination yet. It’s almost like nothing matters until we reach the end. 

But with this strategy, I want to challenge that.

Before Picture

And in fact, the next time you’ve lost motivation to keep working toward your goal, I invite you to look back to when you started.  Where were you? What was going on? What were you thinking, feeling, and doing? And what was happening in your life?

After you think to that “before picture,” then begin tracing the things that happened along the way to get you where you are now.

Finding Progress

What has unfolded along the way to bring you to this exact moment? And perhaps more importantly, what have you learned, what have you discovered, and what have you tried? What evidence can you find that proves you are indeed moving forward on that goal? 

This may feel challenging at first, but give yourself some time. Really think back to where you were when you started. Ask yourself, “what did I learn at that moment? and “how did I move forward in that experience?”

You see, most of us are so conditioned to believe it’s all or nothing. We’ve either made it or we haven’t. It’s win or lose. 

But I’m telling you, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As I mentioned earlier, the most important point of setting a goal is the person we become on our way to success. It’s about the lessons we learn. It’s about the challenges we overcome and the skills we develop as we face each obstacle along the way. 

And by finding evidence that you are moving forward, you challenge those discouraging thoughts that say “you haven’t made any progress.” or  “this is hopeless. why even work on it anymore?”

Instead, you highlight how much you have done and the progress you have made. You recognize the hard work you’ve put into the goal as well as the invaluable information you’ve learned about both what to do and not do. 

Finding Evidence of Growth

So maybe you set an impossible goal at the beginning of the year to publish a book, or sign 30 clients, or launch a new program, and you’re five months into the goal and you’re feeling a bit blah.

Your initial motivation wore off months ago, the end is nowhere in sight, and you wish things would just happen faster.

But hear me out for a minute.

What if things are happening exactly as they should be? What if you are on the exact right path? How might that be true?

What evidence have you found over the past five months that demonstrates all of the progress you’ve made? What evidence do you have that shows how much you’ve grown from the person you were five months ago to now? If you’re a listener of this podcast, I’m willing to bet it’s a whole lot. So slow down for a minute and identify that evidence. Because I promise you, it’s there. And you owe it to yourself to recognize and celebrate the incredible things you’ve done over that time.

It’s Happening

And that brings me to the last simple, yet profound thought that I want to share with you today as you continue working toward your big goals.

This thought was offered by my friend and fellow coach and all-around amazing human, Jenn Dodd, who I hope to have on the podcast sometime soon to talk more in-depth about this concept. But for now, I’m just going to offer you the thought that Jenn offered me.

You see, a few months ago I was feeling super discouraged about my progress on a goal. I was stuck in one of those negative thought loops like I mentioned on episode 40 that was clearly holding me back. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t reaching my goal fast enough. And I keep thinking over and over, “it’s just not happening fast enough. It’s never going to happen.” And all sorts of unhelpful versions of this thought. 

And Jenn, in her infinite wisdom, offered the powerful thought, but it’s happening right now.

The things that need to unfold in order to get from point A to point B – from where you are now to where you want to be – are happening right now. 

It is happening.

And the moment she offered me those powerful words: it’s happening, I immediately found evidence to prove it true. I immediately shifted my mindset and rediscovered my motivation and my excitement for my goal. And I started brainstorming new ways to keep moving forward.

And again, it was all from those simple words: it’s happening. 

Recap

So if you find yourself feeling frustrated with your progress on your long-term goals, or if you feel like giving up because things aren’t happening fast enough, I invite you to try these 3 simple strategies.

1. First, write a letter from your future self and offer a fresh perspective on your current situation.

2. Then, look back to when you started working on your goal. Begin finding all of the evidence to prove that you’re making progress and recognize how far you’ve come. 

3. And finally, practice the simple yet powerful thought: it’s happening.

Because I promise you, my friends, it is happening. And you are doing amazing things. 

Motivation Training

Now, if you want to learn additional strategies to increase your motivation and your commitment toward your goals, I have a free Mastering Your Motivation training available. It shares my four favorite strategies to get you taking action on your goals no matter what. In fact, it even applies to things you don’t want to do. 

So if you want to check out that training, just go to imbusybeingawesome.com/motivation. You can check out the free training there. I’ll also link to it in the show notes at imbusybeingawesome.com/episode42

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