We all have long-term goals, whether related to our career or personal life. We have plans for where we would like to be in our careers five or ten years down the road.
But long-term goals present unique challenges, precisely because they are something we cannot hope to achieve until sometime in the more distant future. Human beings are hard wired for gratification that is more immediate. We want our rewards now, rather than having to delay until some time that is not assured.
That is what makes long-term goals so difficult – maintaining our motivation and drive to accomplish them when the reward is so far off. And it becomes even harder when our progress toward those goals hits obstacles that slow it down or stop it completely.
How can you stay motivated to achieve those long-term goals? Here are a few ways that work along with our natural desires, rather than opposed to them.
1. Savor even small victories or small movements toward your goal.
Our brain needs rewards. And it needs them often. So, keep track of your progress every day, and recognize any movement that you make toward your goal, no matter how small. Psychologists have discovered that any progress, no matter how small, toward a goal releases a chemicals in the brain that give us a feeling of satisfaction and achievement, and the desire to continue.
2. Keep a record of your efforts and your progress.
Write down daily the steps you have taken toward your goal. This way, you can see how far you have come over a period of time. This also helps you to see what strategies and efforts are working and which are not and need to change. The mere action of logging your actions can help to increase your motivation.
3. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Backsliding, especially in an effort that may encompass months or years, is inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens. It is to be expected. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Use them as motivation to help you do better. Remember the old Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
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