Here’s an unfortunate truth: All goals eventually lose their shine. The goal that seemed essential and exciting on day one can feel more like a chore after a few weeks.
Maybe progress hasn’t come as quickly as you hoped. Maybe pursuing your goal is much more, well, ordinary than you anticipated. Or maybe you’re encountering obstacles you didn’t expect.
Whether today, next week, or next month, you’ll need some grittiness to achieve your goals. Here’s how you can stay the course when the going gets tough.
Connect Who You Are to What You Do
Let’s start here: you have a set of values. Our values inform how we live, even if they go unnamed. (If you want to discover yours, try our LifeFocus product.) Our values matter because they call out the best in us. They invite us toward our better selves. And with a bit of intention, you can connect almost any goal with your core values.
Let’s say you have the values of autonomy, resilience, community, growth, and generosity. Your current goals include a morning journaling habit, getting out of debt, and applying for a dozen carefully selected jobs.
Your journaling habit builds emotional resilience, empowers you to build richer and more self-aware connections within your community, and supports your overall growth. Getting out of debt will allow you to be more autonomous with how you spend your money and more generous. And a new job would allow you to grow professionally, give more generously, and achieve greater autonomy at work.
These connections help you stay engaged with an essential reality: goals are less about what you achieve and more about who you become. Connect what you choose to do with who you are and aspire to be, and you’ll find deeper reservoirs of motivation for when the going gets tough.
Build Your “Do It Anyway” Muscle
Andrew Huberman is a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University. He knows a thing or two about the brain. And by reviewing a series of recent studies, he suggests our ability to persist is closely linked to a specific brain structure. What’s more exciting? Several studies have identified activities that cause this brain structure to increase in mass. That means it’s possible to get better at persevering in hard things. How?
Huberman suggests what he calls “micro-sucks.” What do taking a two-minute cold shower, showing up at the gym when you would rather stay in bed, and staying off your phone for the first hour after you get home from work have in common? You don’t want to do them. These are all examples of “micro-sucks.” By doing what you don’t want to do (or not doing something you find tempting), you’re cultivating a transferable skill: building your “do it anyway” muscle.
If you need greater perseverance for your goal, adopting a non-related “micro-suck” can help you cultivate the tenacity you need to stay the course. Growing in your ability to persist in the face of internal and external obstacles is an essential skill for goal achievement—and for life.
Remember Why You Started (And What You Have to Lose)
Gail Hyatt, wife of Michael Hyatt, has a saying we love at Full Focus: “People lose their way when they lose their why.” You had a reason for setting each of your goals. Hopefully, you even wrote them down. Reviewing those reasons is a great start. Your imagination can take you even further.
Let’s walk through an imaginative exercise. A year from now, you’ve achieved each of your goals. What’s different about your life? How do you feel? What’s possible that wasn’t before? Linger here.
Now, extend that out further. It’s five years from now. The personal growth from your goals has stuck around. Think about your health, most important relationships, and professional contributions. What’s different as a result of your goals? How do you feel about that future you?
Ready to try going in the opposite direction? A year from now, you’ve given up on your goals. Your trajectory has stayed the same or perhaps gotten marginally worse. When you look around, what do you see?
Map the same trajectory out another five years. What is your life like? How do you feel? Are you satisfied?
The point of this exercise is not to incite shame. We all miss goals from time to time. But when you’re tuned in to the stakes and keenly aware of what you have to lose, you can often muster the extra resilience you need to go a little further.
So, how do you muster the grit you need to stick with your goals when they’ve lost their shine? Connect them to your core values. Cultivate tenacity by doing small things you don’t want to do. And keep the stakes top of mind. You can do this—a day at a time.
Who you journey with matters. Join our Full Focus Planner Community for greater encouragement and problem-solving.
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