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These Smart Strategies Will Help You Commit to a Long-Term Goal and See It Through

Don’t forget to celebrate your wins and forgive yourself in the moments along the way when you fall short.


By Marina Khidekel, Editorial Director at Thrive Global
Visual Generation / Shutterstock

Visual Generation / Shutterstock
Setting long-term goals can be intimidating. Sticking to them requires commitment and follow-through — as well as a willingness to invest your time and energy, even if you don’t reap the rewards right away. No wonder many of us hit the ground running, only to lose steam and eventually give up before we reach the finish line. In the aftermath, you might wonder: What could I have done differently?

We asked members of the Thrive community to share the strategies that helped them commit to a long-term goal and see it through. From breaking each effort down into Microsteps to finding an accountability buddy (or two!), these tips are sure to help you get and stay on track.

Take it one step at a time

“First, I commit to just one goal at a time — usually one for each year. This means sitting with my priorities, meditating, and doing the work to determine what my one overarching goal should be. The second part is determining what habits I’m going to lean on to achieve that goal, and then establishing those habits. I build habits by tying them to something I’m already doing, so I have a built-in trigger.”

—Cindy Locher, hypnotherapist and author, Minneapolis, MN

Meditate on it

“Meditation and visualization are key for me. Every morning — like a muscle — I work them out. It’s the first thing I do. I write down my dreams in detail, like they’re real. I re-read them, and am always shocked at the way my life unfolds.”

—Molly Bravo, chef and entrepreneur, Boulder Creek, CA

Lean on an accountability buddy

“I nominate one of my friends as an accountability buddy. I do the same for my circle of friends. They ask me for progress updates once a week or month. It’s as simple as a text or a direct message asking, ‘How is your goal coming along?’ This could also be a chat over a cup of coffee or a phone call — whatever works for your schedule.”

—Amber Faust, wellness blogger, Hilton Head Island, SC

Use your time wisely

“Before I turned 40, I set a goal to complete 40 hikes. I didn’t set this goal until mid-November of that year, leaving me with just 15 weeks until the big day. So I sat down with my calendar and scheduled each hike. I turned down plans with friends, sleeping in, and many other activities to make this goal my top priority. I once did six hikes in seven days! In the end, it wasn’t that I reached each summit, it was that I entered my forties empowered to prioritize my health and wellness over everything else.”

—Tami Nealy, public relations, Phoenix, AZ

Seek out structure

“I always wanted to write a book. I finally signed up for a six-month course on creating a book proposal. I needed the monthly check-in, accountability, and assignments to get going, and it worked!”

—Natalie Bonfig, writer and speaker, St. Paul, MN

Think about how you’ll feel once you reach the finish line

“The most challenging part of pursuing long term goals is maintaining the momentum and sense of enthusiasm needed for the long haul, and staying consistent with your actions. You can overcome these challenges by identifying a bigger purpose behind your goal, and building a support system to hold you accountable. I recommend getting clarity on what achieving your goals will do for you and those around you.”

—Swati Davidson, business and life coach, Denver, CO

Don’t get caught up in the short term or long term

“I take a near/far approach to achieve goals. I remind myself of my far-off vision every day with a stylized, word-based vision board. It’s the first thing I see when I sit up in bed in the morning. However, I try not to be consumed by the journey and how I will get there. Instead, I try to focus on near-term, tangible steps I can accomplish to bring my vision to fruition. Most importantly, I am grateful for each day that I have to build something greater than myself.”

—Kelli Wingo, speaker, consultant, coach, and writer, New York, NY

Adopt a “daily deposits” mindset

“I’ve adapted a ‘daily deposits’ mindset to keep up with my goals. I focus on depositing quality, regardless of the quantity, and remind myself that a penny still has value in a jar full of nickels, quarters, and dimes. Today’s deposits add value toward my overall goal.”

—Audresha Pemberton, group fitness instructor, Dallas, TX

Check in with yourself

“I set future checkpoints. I tend to set them at 90 days, 120 days, and further depending on the length of the goal. Each checkpoint allows me to reflect and make any necessary adjustments to the goal.”

—Caitlin Peperone, director of performance support, Memphis, TN

Visualize the good and the bad

“Whenever I set a goal, like running a marathon or writing a book, I set time aside to plan for the worst. It’s easier to visualize crossing the finish line of a race or what the cover design of the book will look like. It’s not as easy to think about the struggle. I set a plan for what I’ll think and do when I hit writer’s block on a Friday morning and don’t want to write, or when I hit mile 15 and want to quit. I visualize the best and the worst — that way I’m not blindsided when adversity strikes. I’m control what I can and let go of the rest!”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content marketer, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

Consider what you can do right now

“One of the best strategies to commit to a long-term goal and see it through is to first consider the end result — where you want to be or what you want to do — and create a list of three to five immediate and sustainable actions you can take the following day to contribute to the goal. Short-term goals are extremely important because they provide immediate feedback along the way to achieving your long-term goals.”

—Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, writer and author, Los Angeles, CA

Find a group of mentors to help you along the way

“I think of every long-term goal as its own startup business. Just as a startup founder curates a board of directors to help the team achieve specific and measurable goals, I enlist the help of trusted mentors to help me define goals, remain patient with the process, stay consistent with my actions, and most importantly, keep myself accountable. When I get overwhelmed, mentors keep me stay grounded by breaking projects into small steps and sharing stories and expertise that show how taking the most difficult and scary steps are worth it every time.”

—Carolyn Montrose, marketer and team workshop leader, Haworth, NJ

Take notes

“I’ve never found journaling helpful, but notes are key. I keep notes on my refrigerator, my computer, and my desk. Some are just for motivation or inspiration, and some are for timekeeping. I change these notes regularly to relieve any monotony.”

—Phyllis Heim, assistant nurse manager, Augusta, GA

Be flexible

“I just completed a two-week trek to Everest base camp. I started training six months before. I had my training programme on my phone and pinned to my bedroom wall. I wore a Fitbit everyday — when I looked at the statistics I clocked up, I would beam with pride and share with friends. I also learned to be flexible and change my training routine when necessary. To help me stay on track, I added a variety of activities that were fun and relaxing. Enjoyment is important, otherwise you switch off and won’t stick to your goal.”

—Koser Khaliq, travel blogger and writer, London, U.K.

Forgive yourself when you fall short

“When you’re truly ready to commit to something, a light bulb switches on in your head: Suddenly you realize how your life can transform from just your own actions. Every commitment I’ve stuck to has become part of my daily existence; I made my modus vivendi. I visualized the outcome, affirmed my potential, and wrote down the possibilities. I prayed endlessly for the strength to see my goal through and I was granted such power and perseverance that it sometimes surprised me. I also forgave myself on days when I didn’t stick to my commitment, and I vowed to start fresh the following day.”

—Dr. Carmen Harra, psychologist, New York, NY

Set a deadline

“I write out my long-term goals and always identify a completion date. Deadlines always keep a fire lit under the wheels. I also identify short-term dates which are subject to adjustment.”

—Sharyn Stuart, managing director, luxury real estate development, New York, NY

Celebrate your wins

“Celebrate your successes. Making your long-term goal an all or nothing proposition can be demoralizing. Recognize and celebrate your progress toward your ultimate goal.”

—Phil La Duke, international business consultant and author, Detroit, MI

(Thrive Global)

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