By Christine Song

Losing Steam on Your Goals? How to Get Back on Track


There's no time like the present.

It’s about that time of year again.

The time when you start to lose steam on the goals you set for the new year. They fall by the wayside, for reasons that you’ve rationalized are for the best. Work, family, and life get in the way, and it becomes easier to push your dream projects down the road instead of tackling them today.

The “new year” is such a big deal, heavy with promise, growth, and reinvention. But building it up as the end all be all phase of the year when you can make a change carries with it high expectations. The consequence is that once you falter on your goals, it feels easier to revert to old patterns.

But a fresh start awaits you every single day. There’s no reason to limit yourself to the feeling of a new year only once a year. Instead of giving up, what if you just hit the reset button and gave it another, smarter go right now?

If you’re familiar with Ink+Volt’s mission, you know that we’re all about lifelong growth and success. That means not just planning something, but executing and achieving what you set out to do; and not just because it’s a new year, but because every day is an opportunity to do something amazing.

Today is a new day. What will you accomplish?

Resetting your goals

It’s been about three months since January 1st. Whether it felt like a long time or it went by in a flash, in the big scheme of things, three months isn’t that long and you shouldn’t be too undeterred if you hit some road bumps the past few weeks.

Before you scrap your goals completely or decide that it just didn’t work out this year, let’s walk through a few steps:

  1. Identify what your current state is. What’s going on, how do you feel, what have you done or not done so far? Figuring out where you are in this moment is the only way to determine where you want to go from here.
  2. Consider different options and ways you can readjust and tweak a goal so that it is workable and realistic. Why hasn’t it been working so far? How can you adjust it to work better?
  3. Focus and recommit to your plan so that you stay on track. There’s a reason you set your goal. Keep that reason in mind and let it push you through the challenges.

New goals, like new habits, take time to form and take hold. The good things in life often aren’t the ones that are the easiest or fastest. In a recent National Public Radio (NPR) interview, Selma Hyek shared that “[she’d] rather have the hard road into excellence than the easy road into mediocrity.”

Wouldn’t you?

Step 1: Identify your current state

Put the brakes on and be honest. What’s not working? You set these goals for yourself and things aren’t coming together as you planned. Why? An honest evaluation of your efforts and how you feel is the first step.

Here are some common reasons why people lose steam on their new goals:

You overestimated what you could do. This is an easy mistake to make. When your creative juices are flowing and you’re in the moment of imagining yourself accomplishing your goals, you think you can do anything. And you can do anything you set your mind to — you just might not always have the time, money, or resources to do it all at once.

Think about it. As the year starts, you’re spending a lot of time and energy revamping old goals and forging paths towards new ones. The first few days and weeks may feel great, but it’s just not humanly possible to have a constant, steady stream of undiluted motivation, momentum, and focus. It’s only natural for that energy and excitement to wain or go through peaks and valleys.

Optimism is good, but you need a dose of practicality too. Your plan must take into account your real life and your other obligations; otherwise, you set yourself up for failure.

It’s not what you expected. Sometimes the idea of something is better than the real thing. Maybe you have stuck with your plan and it wasn’t too bad in the beginning. But now, 12 weeks later, you’re pretty miserable. Maybe you don’t feel good about the results you’re achieving, or maybe the steps you have to take aren’t as easy to fit in your schedule as you thought.

You’re being too hard on yourself. Are you judging your success by comparing yourself to other people? Are the results you achieve never good enough? Blaming yourself won’t make things better or improve your mood and moral. Take a good, hard look at your progress: are you being hard on yourself because of perfectionism (which you should lighten up on) or because you can tell, subconsciously, you’re not putting in all the effort that you should?

Your goal wasn’t ambitious enough. A good goal should feel exciting and challenging. It’s hard, but that’s what you like about it — you are growing. If you set the bar too low for yourself, that could be why you’re losing steam — there isn’t enough challenge there to hold your interest. If you already met your goal or your goal is too simple to be interesting, it’s time to set the bar higher and make the next one harder.

Step 2: Making adjustments

Checking in with yourself at this point in the year and making adjustments is so important. As with anything new or in the beginning stages, feedback is vital. Feedback is your ticket to making the right improvements and modifications to your goal so that you can still succeed.

In this case, you’re the best person to provide that feedback. Now that you’ve identified the reasons why you’re struggling on your goals this year, here are suggestions for changing it up:

Getting what you need. If you need more time, resources, or support, go back to the drawing board. You’ve tried accomplishing something within a certain number of days and it’s not enough; how much time do you realistically need? What has been missing that will make the difference?

And since time can’t be created from thin air, consider ways you can eliminate inefficiencies from your day or week. What moments of your day are least productive? Make tweaks such as:

  • Saying no rather than yes to new projects that will take you away from your goal.
  • Prioritizing what is most important to you and recognizing that you can’t do it all.
  • Delegating tasks that take up your time but don’t need to be done by you.
  • Block out time in the morning to get your day off to a good start, using your waking moments as efficiently as possible.

Eliminate excuses. Excuses are a no go. If you’re giving yourself a pass, you’re not doing yourself any favors. For example, I’m trying to expand my Korean vocabulary and found a worksheet that provides 50 words a week. Though it’s less than 10 words a day for 7 days, I knew it would be a reach to memorize that many given my schedule.

The first week I did pretty well by memorizing 40 words, but the second week was half that. By the third week, I realized that there were moments in my day that would be perfect for practicing, but I didn’t always have the worksheet with me. I let myself use the excuse that I didn’t have my worksheet handy to not practice. So I printed three copies of the worksheet: one to keep with me in my planner, another for the car, and the third for my nightstand. Now I have eliminated that excuse, and I have to practice.

Revamp your planning sessions. Sunday evenings are like the end of a year; a perfect time to reflect, prepare, and strategize for learning and  success ahead. If you’ve been doubting yourself or your abilities, use this time to focus on the positive, squeeze in meditation that emphasizes overcoming doubt, or try adding inspirational messages or quotes in prominent places, like your planner or bathroom mirror.

If you’re using a planner, like the Ink+Volt 2018 Planner, make sure you’re using all of its features to clearly state your goals and expectations. Look at your upcoming week. Where do you have space? What can shift to create space?

Get advice. Do you know someone who has already achieved the goal you want to achieve? Reach out to them for their advice and feedback — after checking in with yourself about how you can improve, why not get an expert opinion on how to get where you want to go? You can show them your plan, ask them questions about their experience, and learn from their wisdom and mistakes. Sometimes bringing a second set of eyes is just the thing to bring your plan to perfection.

Step 3: Find your focus

Just because you lost steam on your new 2018 goals doesn’t mean you have to give up on them. Every day is an opportunity to recommit to them. Facing that fear of failure or laziness can’t be an excuse this year for not doing what you want to do.

  • Remember why a goal is important to you.
  • Tell someone who cares about you, to create accountability.
  • Recognize when something isn’t working, is unrealistic, or impractical and try a different approach. There are many ways to arrive at a destination.
  • Be patient with yourself.

We know that this might be the time of year when you need support the most and we hope today’s post inspires you not to give up!