After kicking off the new year with a bang, I had a slump.
I lost my motivation and got bogged down with life stuff like changing health insurance and setting up joint bank accounts; it didn’t help that where I live in California it literally rained for weeks without stopping.
The worst part about a slump and letting go of your goals: often, you don’t even notice that it’s happening.
Usually, when we give up on a goal or aren’t putting the work in that we should, it’s because we think we have a good reason. We tell ourselves it’s because we’ve been too busy, or not feeling well, or we kick projects down the road for when it’s “a better time”. It always feels like it makes sense.
That’s what happened to me. We don’t think of it as giving up at the time — but that’s exactly what you’re doing.
So if you have been letting your resolutions slide, now is the time to make a decision: are you in or are you out?
Checking in on your goals and progress so far
If you’ve been in a slump like me, you might not even notice it. So the first step to take is to actually go back to the goals and yearly theme that you set for this year, and read them over.
- What did you want to accomplish this year?
- Have you accomplished any of what you wanted to accomplish already?
- If yes, what enabled you to achieve this goal?
- Have you made measurable progress on your goals?
- If no, what has held you back?
- How did you want to feel/be/live this year?
- How often have you felt the way you wanted to feel or been the person you want to be?
- What was happening when you achieved this?
- Were there moments (or days or weeks…) where you didn’t achieve this?
- Why do you think that happened?
You might discover through answering these questions that you’ve actually done a lot more than you’re giving yourself credit for. If that’s the case, hooray! Now you just need to look at how you’re assessing yourself day-to-day. If you always feel behind but the facts show otherwise, then you need to reframe your perspective to acknowledge the real success you are having.
If you discover that you haven’t gotten that much done on your goals yet, then this is actually great. You have so much time to get back on track.
How to re-focus on your goals and set priorities
Only you can know exactly why you have fallen off track with your goals.
However, one thing is for sure — when you don’t accomplish your goals, something about them isn’t working. Here are two of the biggest reasons why:
- You aren’t prioritizing your goals appropriately
- You aren’t setting realistic goals for yourself
Let’s tackle each of these one at a time. If any of this resonates with you, then hopefully our tips can help you recalibrate your goals or your approach to make them work for you.
1. You aren’t prioritizing your goals
If it seems like something else is always getting in the way of you being able to accomplish your goals, then it’s likely that your goal isn’t a high enough priority for you.
Even if you think it is a high priority, your actions speak louder than words. The things we spend time on are the things we give real value to.
If your projects and goals consistently aren’t getting worked on, then you need to look at what IS getting accomplished in your life. Where are you spending your time? Where is your best productive time and effort going?
Creating a pie chart of your time can help. Draw a circle and fill in slices for everywhere your time has gone in the last three months. Are you surprised by how your time is being spent? What can you do less of to create more space for your biggest goals?
2. Your goals aren’t realistic for you to accomplish
You want to accomplish big things, and you can. But if you bite off more than you can chew, then it will be much harder to get there.
If you set goals that are unrealistic for you — and I mean YOU, with your own life and personal limitations of time, money, space, etc — then you are setting yourself up to fail. If you have a full time job and kids and commitments that leave you just a few hours a week to work on your goals, then you need to outline your goals to align with that schedule.
While we might wish we could do more every day, it is better to be realistic about what you can do than to fail over and over. Small steps every day are better than a few big, inconsistent steps.
If your goals are too big, sit down with your weekly schedule and try to underestimate what you can do with your time every week. Fill in your free time with things you think you can get DONE; not just started or making progress on, but DONE.
You can also try breaking down your big goals into smaller steps, to make taking steps easier. For example, if you can’t sit down for a whole weekend and build your new website, look for things you can do in 15 minutes a day instead, like choosing photos or designing one page.
Try a 30-day challenge to kick back into gear
Realizing you’ve fallen off track with your goals is one thing, but actually getting back to work is another thing. If you’ve come to a complete stop, getting started again is really hard!
Sometimes the best way to get yourself going again is to create some structure.
I love the Ink+Volt Planner’s 30-Day Challenges for this.
A 30-day challenge is a commitment to yourself to make progress on a goal. If you need to get back on track, you can try turning a part of your goal into a 30 day challenge; or if you just want to practice committing to something, you can set an unrelated challenge to just do something you’ve always wanted to do.
The best 30-day challenges are about creating habits, not necessarily accomplishing things.
Therefore, the best 30-day challenges are ones like these:
- Read more books
- Eat less meat
- Start meal planning
- Be on time
- Get more exercise
If you’re using your Ink+Volt Planner, there will be space for you to then write about why you want to commit to your challenge. For example, if your challenge is to “be on time”, you might write about how being late makes you look unprofessional and you want people to feel that you value their time.
Then you’ll plot out the HOW. How will you commit to this challenge? What are the bite-size, actionable steps you’ll take to make sure you meet the goal?
Again, if you want to be on time, you could list:
- Look at my schedule every morning to look over the day’s appointments, so they are fresh in my mind
- Set an alert on my phone 15 minutes before every appointment to remind me
- Block off time for travel between meetings on my calendar when I have off-site appointments
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier 3 days a week so I don’t have to rush to get ready
Your steps to accomplishing your goal should be something you can easily do every day. It’s not about being a superhero — it’s about establishing a habit that will improve your life.
By setting this achievable goal — and even better, achieving it! — you will get back into the rhythm of focusing on a priority and making it happen. That will set you up for success when it comes to completing all your bigger goals for the whole year.
Don’t give up! You can do so much
It sucks to feel like you’re not accomplishing everything you want to, but don’t let that discourage you. It happens to everyone!
If you aren’t where you hoped you’d be by the end of the first quarter, take time now to figure out how to set yourself up for success. Whether it’s recalibrating your priorities, figuring out how better to spend your time, or just practicing sticking with a goal, now is your chance to make things better!