Have you ever set a bunch of goals, and then realized months later that you forgot all about them? I’ve been there! I had the best intentions, but no system in place for how to follow through with my plans. Today I’d like to share 7 strategies for staying on track with your goals. I also have a recap of my August goals and my plans for September!
September is definitely back-to-school time in my mind. Even though this is the first year where I won’t be going back to school, I still want to use September as a time to refocus on my goals. It’s a fresh start to make sure that we finish the year strong! Or at least, as strong as we can in the current situation.
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7 Strategies for Staying on Track with Your Goals
There are many ways that you can get to your goals, and it’s best to know what works for you. The strategy can also depend on the type of goal you want to accomplish. Some tasks, like cleaning a room or organizing files on your computer, can be finished in an afternoon. But that won’t work for writing a draft of a book or training for a marathon! Here are 7 strategies to help you stay on track with any kind of goal.
1. Create a system for staying accountable
Your system can be anything that works for you. Depending on what the goal is, I’ll write it down in the weekly to-do list section of my planner or as a task on every day if it’s a daily goal. Habit trackers are also great for building daily habits!
You could try setting reminders on your phone to go off at a certain time or try adding time blocks to your digital planner or calendar. Basically, the more often you see your goal, the more likely you are to remember to work on it.
This can be where pretty planner supplies come in handy if you enjoy that kind of thing. I love my checklists and habit trackers, and it’s even better when I have all kinds of colored pens, stickers, and decorative tape.
I’ve never personally stuck with bullet journaling for long (I prefer my own little organizational methods), but I know that it’s helpful and fun for a lot of people. There are endless resources out there. Maybe now’s the time to learn about bullet journaling and how it can keep your life organized!
2. Set up a weekly check-in with yourself
Remind yourself what you’re working toward. Put it in your calendar, and make sure to regularly review the list of goals you’ve set. It goes along with the first strategy because you can’t expect to reach your goals if you can’t even remember what they are!
If the task is worth setting as a goal, you probably won’t accomplish it without some extra effort.
If it’s a bigger goal, regular check-ins are a great way to break it down into pieces that can be completed in a week. For example, say you’re trying to declutter your whole house or apartment, and you want to do it within a month. To make it more manageable, you can separate the larger task (the whole house) into smaller tasks, like individual rooms or areas. At your weekly check-in, decide which rooms you want to do that week, and add them into your planner or to-do list accordingly.
If it’s several smaller goals, you may choose to also spread them out over the whole month. Or you might want to get it all out of the way in the first week! Either way, you’re a lot more likely to achieve your goals when you review them consistently.
3. Make it a group or partner goal
Knowing that you’re working on a goal with someone can help you stay on track. I think the traditional example here is working out with a friend. It keeps you going because you don’t want to make the other person go to the gym alone.
Meeting up in person may not be possible right now, but there are ways around it (video chat workout sessions might be the solution for that example). You could also tell each other what you got done every day or every few days. That’s great for something like a gratitude practice. Instead of just writing down or thinking about what you’re grateful for, you’re sharing it with another person and making their day better too!
For work goals, even the illusion of being with another person can help you stay focused. I recently found Kate Cavanaugh’s YouTube channel. Kate is a writer who often hosts live streams where you can write or work along with her. I’m the worst at catching streams when they’re live, but I love watching the replays while I write my blog posts. It’s a really easy way to stay motivated, and you can still get the social aspect by chatting with other viewers.
4. Choose the right goals
Before you randomly set a bunch of goals, think carefully, and make sure you’re setting your mind to the right things. Things that you’ll actually be motivated to complete.
This is something I’ve been working on recently. One of my goals for July was an ab workout challenge. I was impulsive about setting that goal, and I lost interest so quickly. It was a total flop! It was a waste of planning energy that I could’ve put toward a better goal.
Set goals that make sense for where you are in life and where you want to be.
I prefer goals that are realistic and attainable in terms of scale and timeframe. But maybe you prefer to go all out and set super ambitious goals. Both ways are great, as long as you’re working toward the right thing.
5. Have a reward in mind
This can be a great way to motivate you to finish what you start, with the big disclaimer that the reward should be reasonable in scale and price, lol. Cleaning your apartment does not necessarily warrant buying yourself a new designer purse.
Again, the classic example here involves working out. Make a deal with yourself that if you stick to your workout schedule for a month, you can reward yourself with a new sports bra.
Or maybe the reward is totally unrelated to the goal. You might want to read a certain number of books in a month, and the treat is a new candle or throw pillow. You know yourself best, and you know the things you want. Use those desires to keep you on track to achieve your goals!
6. Set a reasonable number of goals
Don’t try to work on too many goals at once, especially if they’re big changes. I’d say that 1 to 5 goals is a good number, but that is somewhat arbitrary. They also don’t have to be monthly goals! Depending on what you want to achieve, the time frame might be a month, a quarter, or even an entire year.
I usually choose between 3 and 5 goals for each month, as you can see with these posts. But they’re never any huge, life-altering changes. Most of the time, they’re very realistic and things that I might be doing anyway. I see my goals as a way to hold myself accountable and be intentional with how I spend my time.
However, if you’re using your goals to change or get rid of bad habits, you probably need to narrow your focus a bit. For example, say you’re starting a health journey. I know there are many ways to do this, but I would want to take it in steps. Maybe you only focus on your exercise routine for a month, until that becomes a habit. Then you can make healthier snack choices the next month, and cook healthier meals the month after that. If you try to make changes in other areas of your life on top of that, you’re making everything harder.
Sustained lifestyle changes take time. Don’t feel like you need to work on every goal all at once. Choose one or a few things to start with, and add in the rest over time. You’ll get there!
7. Re-evaluate and make changes
It’s important to know when it’s time to try something new. Maybe you’ve seen a bunch of other people doing something, like some exercise class or a planning method, and you want it to work for you. You’ve given it a good try, but it’s just not for you. That’s totally fine!
Rather than waste more time on something you know you’re never going to enjoy, it’s okay to let it go. Be proud of yourself for trying and recognizing that it’s not in your best interest.
And move on! Let people continue to enjoy that thing that they like, and work on finding your own thing. Do some research and explore some other interests you have. Maybe you’ll always hate spin classes, but you find that you love pilates. Or you develop your own planning style instead of copying every bullet journaling spread you see.
Now that you have some new strategies for keeping track of your goals, let’s move on and see how I did on my August goals!
August 2020 Reflection
Goal #1: Finish two books
August was a great reading month – I finished four books! I really have audiobooks to thank for this progress. I used to be so against audiobooks because I prefer reading physical copies. But I started listening to books instead of podcasts while I get ready in the morning and it’s been great. Here are the four books I finished this month.
Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
I loved this book even more than the first one if that’s possible. I have a thing for older sci-fi books about space travel and colonizing other planets and moons. If that’s not your thing, you probably won’t enjoy this book. There are a lot of super detailed descriptions of Martian landscapes and scientific topics, which I know many people have found boring, but I think it’s a great part of the world-building. I want to know what happens in the finale, Blue Mars, but I also don’t want the series to end!
These were my two audiobooks for the month. I actually found the whole Narnia series as a bundle that only used one audiobook credit, so I had to get it! I read a few of the Narnia books as a child but never finished all of them. There are some questionable themes and stuff that would not fly today (“Battles are ugly when women fight.” is an actual line in the book), but I’m choosing to just enjoy the stories without being too critical.
Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
This was a lovely collection of stories from a wide array of Black women. They all revolve around an important time when each woman saw themselves in a book. I will say that I am not well-versed in literature by Black authors, so a lot of the references went over my head. Nevertheless, this book was a joy to read. The Well-Read Black Girl book club is definitely worth checking out, and it is a huge resource for finding great books by Black authors.
Goal #2: Finish the first season of Lost
I didn’t do this at all, but I started watching Big Brother All-Stars instead! It’s fine because the intention of this goal was to make time for self-care. It doesn’t matter what show you’re watching, just that you’re relaxing and enjoying it.
I feel like I never hear anyone else talking about Big Brother, but I’ve been watching it since I was a kid and, it’s a major feature of my summers. This season was a little delayed, but I’m so happy they were able to make it work even with the ongoing pandemic.
In terms of being a self-care activity, it’s a great show to watch. I watch it live with CBS All Access (I know, another millennial who doesn’t pay for cable), which encourages me to show up and be present when it’s on. I got my boyfriend into it and, now we watch it together. That’s one reason why I like this more than watching Lost on my own. It’s so fun to cuddle up on the couch and debate the various choices and events in the game during the commercial breaks.
Goal #3: Set up my email list
This is kind of done? I did upgrade my ConvertKit account from the free trial so I’m able to send emails to subscribers. But I didn’t do everything that I wanted to. I created my first content upgrade, which is a plant care information printable, to go along with my updated plant collection. I’m sure this isn’t perfect and I’ll want to update it sometime in the future, but done is better than perfect!
The part that I didn’t get around to was the welcome sequence or even just a welcome email. This is still a work in progress while I try to figure out exactly what I want to say to new email list subscribers. Maybe it’s all imagined pressure (it probably is), but I want the first email to make a good first impression. I haven’t found the time to brainstorm that yet, but I’ll make it a priority to do that soon. If there’s something you’d like to see in my newsletters, please let me know!
I’d like to promote Maliha from The Side Blogger again because she has several helpful posts about how to build a successful email list. I’ve learned is that this isn’t something that can be accomplished in just a month. From what I understand, your email list is a huge part of your blog and a source for potentially a large portion of your blog’s income. Just like learning about how to write better or make better Pinterest graphics, I think email marketing and list building will be an ongoing process.
I still need to learn about conversion rates and landing pages, what to put in a newsletter that people actually enjoy reading, and the best kinds of content upgrades for my audience.
This is where someone with a more marketing or sales-focused background would have a much easier time. My engineering degree taught me a lot, but I know nothing about how to appeal to people or build brand recognition. This topic as a whole will be something that I continue to learn about for a long time. But that’s fine, and that’s what keeps things fun! The learning opportunity is one of the reasons why I’m here.
Goal #4: Enjoy my mini-vacation
Success! My cabin vacation at the beginning of August already feels like it was so long ago, but it was a lovely time. I wanted to unplug and spend some time in nature, and I did exactly that.
Obviously, there’s no way to forget about or ignore the pandemic right now, so it did come with a non-zero amount of risk. I can’t say that anyone should do this, but I think there are ways to travel while being as safe as you can. That’s probably the only travel I’ll be doing this year, besides visiting my boyfriend’s family for the holidays, so I really wanted to make the most of it.
The fact that the cabin had unusably-slow WiFi was a blessing in disguise. I could’ve easily turned that weekend into a work-fest for the blog. Think of how much I could get done in a weekend! But I didn’t think about the blog at all, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Instead, I was able to enjoy my time with my boyfriend. We relaxed outside, watched game shows on tv together, and tried as many local restaurants as we could. It’s definitely not the vacation that I had in mind for this year, but it was still perfect.
Inspired by my time to relax, I wrote a post all about my trip and the importance of taking a break if you’re interested in hearing more. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone could use a break, especially right now!
Goal #5: Daily gratitude lists
Here are the stats: there were 31 days in August, and I made 9 gratitude lists. That’s not a great win ratio!
But that’s okay. I also know that work was insanely busy for a lot of the month, and I just didn’t have the brainpower to write anything down at the end of the day. (It’s also possible to practice gratitude without writing it down.) I did my best, and of course, there’s room for improvement.
When I did have the time to write down my reflections, I always felt noticeably lighter when I was finished. I know that the feeling gets better the more consistent I am.
There’s something so powerful about having a really shitty day and still managing to find the good things about it. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Some days I would only aim for five things, and they could be tiny. I’d be grateful for listening to my favorite song or having something tasty for dessert. There are endless things around you that you’re probably grateful for, and you’ll find them if you just start looking.
September 2020 Goals
Goal #1: Finish two books
Two books, the staple goal! I’ve learned that this is very doable, and I often end up finishing more than two in a month, especially now that I have an audiobook subscription.
The two that I’m aiming to finish are actually ones that I started in August. The first is Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I think she is an incredibly funny person, and it’s been fascinating hearing stories about her life.
The second is A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green. I’m about 100 pages in, and I’m loving it so far. It is a sequel so I won’t give anything away, but the first book was filled with such great commentary on the realities of internet fame that I’m sure this will be just as good.
Goal #2: Join group boards and Tailwind tribes
I could probably make a whole post about how my whole ~Pinterest experience~ is going, so I’ll keep it brief here. Basically, group boards and Tailwind tribes aim to do the same thing: help people find groups of similar users/bloggers/creators and allow them to share their content to a wider audience. Group boards are a native Pinterest feature, and tribes are a part of the paid services on Tailwind (a scheduling and analytics tool).
We’ll see if this changes, but I have had zero luck with group boards. I’ve spent several hours looking for and applying to group boards, and I haven’t been accepted to a single one! It’s really hard to find boards that are owned by people that are actively using Pinterest, have high-quality pins, and are accepting new contributors.
I’ve found that Tailwind tribes are a lot more active and accepting of new members. My guess is that people in the tribes generally take Pinterest more seriously since they are willing to pay for extra tools. I’m still learning how to use and make the most of these tools, and I want to join a few more tribes. I’ll report back and share my experience soon!
Goal #3: Gratitude practice
Even during the hardest times, we can still find things we are grateful for. I’m making this a goal again because it’s so important.
I’ve learned that writing a gratitude list every day just isn’t feasible for me right now. Instead, I’m adjusting my expectations to be more manageable. I want to make a gratitude list at least four times per week or practice a total of 16 times in September. This is a more realistic number and still a stretch compared to what I did in August.
Goal #4: Start brainstorming gift ideas
I’ve decided that it’s not too early to start buying holiday presents! Or at least to start coming up with gift ideas. I don’t need to have everything figured out this month, but I want to start thinking about it.
Shipping is already a little slower right now, and I imagine it’s only going to get worse around Christmas time with the increased volume of online shopping. I don’t know about you, but I really want the holidays to be as joyful as possible this year. And part of that means buying gifts far enough in advance that I don’t have to worry about them arriving on time.
I like to keep a running list of gift ideas for each person, including myself so I have suggestions to tell other people. Anytime I think of something that would be useful or they mention something they want, I write it down. A link to the specific thing is even better.
Maybe this can be an inspiration to you, let’s get the holiday spirit started a little early this year!
So there you have my 7 strategies for staying on track with your goals! I also shared the results of my August goals and my plans for September.
I would love to hear about your goals for the month! Let me know your favorite technique for achieving goals by leaving a comment.
You may also be interested in 10 ideas for personal development goals.