You've made a big decision, whether it's to attend law school, run a marathon, finally start your own business or to buy a house, and you're proud of yourself. In your mind, you've already passed the bar exam, crossed the finish line, and have moved the furniture into your new condo. You've shared your intentions to your best friend over coffee.
But over the next few weeks, those resolutions that you've made to reach your goal have fallen by the wayside. You didn't mean for that to happen-- it's just that your day-to-day life is so busy, it doesn't realistically allow to you to take on anything more than you have.
Your dream felt so real while you were living it out and telling everyone about your plans that you've allowed yourself to be satisfied simply by saying you were going to do it.
By now, you may have realized that saying things and actually getting them done are two very different things. If your dreams were big enough to broadcast to the world and think about every day, they may very well be worth having. Don't shortchange yourself by having a goal, and them giving up on them - here's how to make your goals and dreams a reality.
Here are some ways to keep yourself accountable.
Don't stop yourself from telling people about your dream. The more important people you tell, the more accountable you will be to reaching your goal. Just the thought that someone may ask about how you're doing with your goal in the future may be enough to keep you on track.
Write it down
When you have a goal, make a plan. Don't just say, "I want to go to law school." Get a notebook and a pen (or your phone and an app) and jot down the reasons why you want to go to law school such as, what will I have to accomplish in order to get there, a detailed timeline for reaching your goal (for example, write LSAT in January, apply for three schools by May).
What will reaching your goal will look like and how you will feel about it? Again, be as detailed as possible, as it will help make reaching your goal seem more vivid.
Follow your plan, but be flexible
Yes, you want to keep on track, but keep in mind that real life does come up. A death in the family, the birth of a child, the loss of a job, or an illness are all things that can set you back in your goals. Be gentle with yourself, and allow yourself more time to meet your goals if you need it. Just re-evaluate your timeline and give yourself some leeway if you need it.
Reward yourself along the way
Don't forget to recognize your accomplishments and your milestones. Post your successes on social media, call someone special-- an old boss who gave you a recommendation, for example-- to share your successes. Take yourself out to dinner, or give yourself a night off if you've had a breakthrough.
Find people who will keep you accountable
If you keep giving updates to your boss about your goals, he or she is going to ask how it's going. Talk about your successes and failures regarding your goals with your friends and family. The more you talk about what you are doing, the more invested you generally will be. It could be just the thing you need to keep yourself on track.
By cycling these five methods into your daily life, you might be surprised at how much you actually get done. I believe that rewarding yourself for small accomplishments is vital to the continuation of your goals, so be sure to celebrate the small successes also.