Goal Setting-Sticking to Schedules

a checklist

Setting a goal is as easy as daydreaming on a cool evening. Our minds are brimming with all the things we'd like to do. If I asked your biggest goals, you'd have an interesting list of life-changing achievements. Why doesn't everyone seem to be at the top of their game, achieving their plans for the most part? The giant of execution. Sticking to schedules and completing projects we start requires more intensity, unlike the planning phase.

Sometimes, we get bored, feel overwhelmed, lose motivation or just procrastinate into forgetfulness. In any case, it’s often a struggle for people to stay consistent with their plans, at least long enough to determine whether or not they work. We’ll cover practical steps to help us stick with our plans.

The difficult part: sticking to schedules

If you're strategic with goal setting, you've narrowed down what you want and why. Maintaining momentum is the next thing you want to achieve. Here are some things you can try:

Practice Habit Layering

There are things you currently do without much thought. They're already ingrained in your schedule and you may feel slightly out of place if you act differently. Perhaps you always brush your teeth immediately after you get out of bed. You can slide in a new habit or activity after brushing your teeth.

The idea is to start doing something new after doing something familiar. It’s the psychology of habit formation. So, after brushing your teeth, you can do 10 minutes of exercise. When you're making plans to exercise you're not just saying “I'll exercise three times a week”, you're also saying “I'll exercise for 10 minutes after brushing my teeth five times a week.”

Create an Enabling Environment

Create the right environment for executing your desired tasks. If you want to read more, keep a book close on your reading table or bed or place your book reading app on your home screen for easy access. Set up your reading table in an aesthetically pleasing and enticing way. No matter how small your current living space is, you can create a conducive environment for the goals you wish to achieve. If you're trying to cut your sugar intake, your fridge shouldn't be a storehouse for soda. Creating an enabling environment makes consistency easier.

Join the Right Community

No man is an island and that’s a fact in every imaginable context. People have similar goals to yours (offline and online), including those who are ahead of you or behind you. Participating in conversations around the same topic and hearing different perspectives can fuel your motivation to follow up with your plan.

Start with a Simple Task

Starting up something new can feel exciting. You're ready to take over the world and prove your greatness. The only problem is, you may not be so high energy three days later. Instead of giving yourself a huge expectation, set the bar low at first that it'll be ridiculous for you not to make an effort.

For instance, let's say you want to begin exercising often. Instead of saying you'll do one hour of cardio every day. Tell yourself to do at least a 5 or 10-minute session daily. The time seems so small, but the goal is setting a minimum target that requires little motivation. You can read a single page before bedtime or practice playing the piano for 15 minutes after dinner. Set a minimum bar for any new goal you set for yourself. You may need to set reminders for new tasks, but you enhance its sustainability this way.

Eliminate Distractions

Distractions prevent us from staying on track and working to complete our set tasks or goals. Social media is a great distraction for many. A scroll here and a scroll there leads to an endless purposeless journey and before we realize it, precious time is spent. Random pop-ins from family and friends to talk could also distort your workflow.

Limiting distractions during set work times helps you enhance your productivity. You could turn off notifications for your social media apps or freeze the apps like me. Tell your friend or roommate, you need two hours to work on something important. Some people say they leave their phone in another room when working. Whatever helps you stay in the flow until you fully exhaust your energy burst is great.

Have Accountability Partners

Is there someone you can trust to check up on you periodically? Then, that's great! Hopefully, you will do the same for them. An accountability partner doesn't have to be someone with similar goals as you. You can have different goals but decide to support and monitor each other's progress at specific times. Knowing that you’ll relay feedback about your productivity to someone may be an extra push to spur you on in your work.

Value Systems over Outcomes

Who doesn't want to be the absolute best at their craft? I'm sure most aspiring footballers look up to the greats like Cristiano, Messi, Neymar, Ronaldinho, etc. Most people want to be rich and be among the most successful 10% in their field. That's great and all. However, I’m convinced you should be more driven or concerned about the strategies and systems that can help you succeed and remain successful.

The outcome or goal needs to be defined as much as possible. But, in reality, who can guarantee exactly how things will turn out? We only know that the right strategies, systems, and people will most likely birth a unique expression of greatness.

Take the Extra Step

No amount of tips or advice would help if you're not intentional about your day-to-day activities. It's up to you to decide how you spend your time and how much you're willing to invest in chasing your dreams and goals.

The nature of goals often determines a significant part of your lifestyle. You can't claim you want to be a successful athlete and don't spend hours training most days. Oh! This reminds me of the great chess player, Tunde. We know him because he gave himself to the game. And, he’s known for the excellence and skill he demonstrates while playing chess.

If you're willing to be the kind of person who reaches the height you admire not just in all the glory and fun, but in the pain, discomfort, discipline, restraint, work ethic, and training, you have a way better shot at getting it right.