This is the last post in the setting feel-good goals series. In part one, we looked at the principles behind setting feel-good goals. Part two was all about the most important questions you need to ask before you commit to your creative goals and part three involved a key goal-setting hack—identifying the habit underneath the goal. Now, part four is all about what to do next: how to create momentum with new goals. As you know, setting goals is only part of the equation. It’s just the start. Once you’ve decided on your goals, that’s when the real work (and reward) begins! So in this post, I’m sharing five qualities and behaviours that will help you get on your merry momentum-making way.
It sounds simple, and it is, but deciding to commit—really commit—will skyrocket your momentum and progress. Where “X” is your goal, commitment is the difference between:
“I’ll try to do X,” and “I’m doing X.”
“I’ll see if I can fit it in today,” and “I’m doing it at 8 am.”
“I would do X but I’m too busy/tired/just don’t feel like it,” and “I’m busy/tired/just don’t feel like it, but I will do X anyway because I know my future self will thank me.”
When I look at times I’ve set and not met goals in the past, not fully committing is one of the key reasons. So decide right now:
Decide you will not let yourself get in the way.
Decide your inner critic will take a back seat while you’re getting started.
Decide that you will do this thing each day or each week and treat it like you would any other appointment, work meeting, or thing you show up for.
Decide you will not buy into the story it’s too hard. As the Whole30 founders say about their clean eating program, “This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” I don’t know about you, but this gave me a perspective shift around how I’m viewing my goals this year!
When you notice excuses popping up, acknowledge it for what it is “Oh, this is an excuse,” then do your thing anyway. Don’t buy into your stories about why this isn’t the right time, all the things that aren’t perfect. Guess what? The time is never perfect. For anything. You’ll be busy, the rain will fall, you won’t feel like it, conditions will be less than ideal. But, whatever else is happening doesn’t matter as much as you think it might. You get to decide when you want to create momentum and that starts with committing.
Tracking your progress will help you maintain your motivation and therefore your momentum. I have a monthly habit tracker in my bullet journal. Having a box to tick each day and being able to see a visual representation of my progress motivates me to keep going (especially before I see any tangible real-world results from my habit).
Tracking also provides clarity on what helps your goal and what hinders it. If you skip a day why did that happen? How can you avoid that happening again? It helps you stay conscious of what you’re trying to accomplish and how far you’ve come.
3. Focus on very next step (and only the very next step)
If your goal is big with lots of moving parts, an easy way to create momentum is to break it down into single action steps. This sounds obvious, but when I write “single action steps” I mean “single action steps.” This is something I’m committed to working on this year as it makes a huge difference, not only to my progress but also to how I feel about the tasks I’m working on.
Here’s an example of why this makes a difference: For a few weeks at the end of last year, I had an item on my to-do list called “File taxes.”
Now, filing my taxes isn’t a single step. First, I need to open my accounting software, note my income and expenses for the year in question, log on to the Self-assessment portal, answer the (many) questions, submit the details, then pay the bill. That’s at least seven action steps, possibly more, which all take different amounts of time.
For as long as I had “File taxes” on my to-do list, I didn’t do it, because I never had enough time to do the whole thing in one go. As soon as I broke it down into individual tasks, though, I have five minutes and I can open up my software and make a note of income/expenses. Boom: three tasks checked off. Within two days, the whole thing is done with minimum stress.
Breaking complex goals, projects, or tasks down into individual action steps might seem tedious, but it’s a useful way to get clear on what exactly needs to happen to get from A to B.
Once we’ve done that, the only thing we need to focus on is the very next step. Not the step in three steps’ time, or that scary step at the end, but the very next step. Everything else can wait.
4. Think like a creator
I touched on this above, but it’s so important it deserves its own section. If there’s anything I’ve learned from studying my own habits and goals and coaching other people on theirs, it’s this: mindset is everything.
In particular, you need to be aware of the difference between a creator mindset and a victim mindset. If you approach your goal from the victim mindset, you’ll feel at the mercy of forces beyond your control, you won’t be as open to recognising any progress you make, and if you make progress, you’re more likely to self-sabotage and blame it on something or someone else.
If you can be mindful of adopting a creator mindset, you’ll find it much easier to create momentum. You’ll have an easier time overcoming challenges, you’ll recognise your progress, celebrate it, and use that momentum to fuel your motivation. You’ll take responsibility for meeting this goal. That doesn’t mean beating yourself up if you don’t, but it means treating it with the importance it deserves, staying conscious of how you’re approaching it, and course correcting where necessary.
If you want to create momentum and reach your goal, at some point you need to start. It’s tempting to wait until Monday, until the start of next month, until the new moon, until conditions are just perfect, but spoiler alert! they never will be.
Today is the perfect day to begin, so why not do so now?
Break your project down into actionable steps, decide this is your year, and go for it.
Also in the Setting Feel-Good Goals 101 series:
- The 3 Principles of Feel-Good Goals
- 5 Important Questions to Ask Before You Commit to Your Creative Goals
- What Is the Habit Behind Your Goal?
If you would like to create momentum with your creative goals and could use some extra support, I would love to help. I’m a certified digital coach with Coach.me, where I help clients gain momentum with their most important projects. If you’d like to see how coaching could help you, you can find out more here. Use the code HANNAHBRAIMEWEEK to try a week’s free coaching.