Becky emailed in and asked me this great question which I think can apply to so many areas of our lives — especially our blogs and our businesses:
I have your book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and I love it. I have noticed lately that I want to and do start everything, but can’t seem to finish anything! It seems I can only wholeheartedly focus on one thing at a time, but I want to do so much!
Just a couple examples would be: I got a planner and used it for a few months then lost interest; I lost 15 pounds but gained 10 pounds back; I started to declutter my house and detailed it on a blog, which lasted for a whole 2 months; I coupon in spurts then stop; I spent 3 months reading a few books a month, and now I can’t seem to finish one.
I could go on and on, and this is all just in the last 9 months! I don’t know why I have all these ideas that I want to do, but can’t seem to find the motivation to finish anything! Do you have any ideas? I’d love to know what advice you would have. -Becky
I think this is a very common problem for many of us. So know that you are not alone.
And I definitely don’t have it all figured out. In fact, I feel like I’m constantly in a battle between my inner disciplinarian and my inner squirrel.
“Focus, Focus, Focus…oh, shiny things!“
I want so badly to be disciplined. But I also have this sort of free spirit inside of me that pops out and wants to do it’s own thing from time to time, which is why I’ve struggled to be a person who follows through with things.
If you were around in the beginning of my blog, MoneySavingMom.com, you would know that I was the queen of starting blog series, making ambitious goals for things I was going to do on a daily or weekly basis, and then never actually finishing or following through with what I’d started.
I get really excited about ideas, start on them, but then get excited about something else and move on. I guess you can say it’s my nature to be a really great starter, but actually following through and finishing things requires a lot more effort.
I don’t have this all figured out, but I have gotten much better at it! For example, last year I started a sort-of book club community on my other blog. The old me would have blogged about it and said, “This is something we will be doing every week for the next year, and here’s the list of all 52 books we’ll be reading!”
The older and wiser me said, “This is fun. Let’s try this out and see how it goes. I’m really enjoying it.”
Many of you hopped on board and it was a blast, but it was nice to know I didn’t make a promise or commitment to my readers that I might not be able to keep later on down the road. And I ended up only running my sort-of book club for a few months, and then I moved on to other ideas — without feeling guilt! Because I had finished what I set out to do: host a book club for my readers on a few different book titles.
So yes, I’ve gotten smarter about the expectations I set for myself, my blog, and my business. I’ve also discovered 4 strategies that help me actually finish the goals I set:
1. Set ONE goal.
So much of the time we set ourselves up for failure by making a huge list of different blogging and business goals. We feel like we are failing or just not doing enough, so we decide to overhaul our blogs and businesses overnight.
But the truth is: it’s not possible to overhaul your blog or your business (or your life!) overnight. Oh you can try, but you’ll quickly crash and burn.
Instead of attempting to change everything all at once, decide to focus on one thing — and one thing only — for the next 2-3 months. Yes, you’ll have other basic daily tasks and responsibilities you need to complete, too, but focus on this one particular area that you want to see a significant change in, one area of your business that you want to grow, or one part of your blogging that you want to improve in.
Not sure what one thing you should choose to focus on? I recommend picking the one that you think will make the biggest difference overall. Maybe that is adding an email newsletter, learning how to effectively do live video, writing more posts on particular topics, writing an ebook, or creating a digital product.
Once you’ve decided on your one goal that you will focus on, be sure to set a concrete time frame for that goal. Start with a time frame that feels manageable. This will look different for everyone, but I always say 3 weeks is a good starting place. It’s long enough to make some real headway, but it’s also short enough that you will be able to stick to it without falling off the bandwagon.
At the end of the 3 weeks, decide if focusing on this goal is making an impact on your business. Do you need to tweak it, redo it, or keep going with it for another 3 weeks if you’re happy with the direction it’s going? It’s important to constantly re-evaluate where you’re at with your goal and what kind of impact it’s making. There’s no point to invest a lot of time and effort into something that is giving you no return.
As you think of other things you want to change in your business/areas you want to work on/projects and ideas you want to tackle, write these down and keep a running list of future goal ideas, but only focus on one at a time. This simplifies things and allows you to really focus and turn that goal into a lifestyle — not just a short-lived ambitious idea.
2. Find accountability for your goal.
This is one of the most important parts of goal-setting. You must have accountability. We were made for community, and it is tough to stick to a goal on your own without someone keeping you accountable for it.
Figure out what kind of accountability you need. Maybe it’s another blogger checking in with you every day or every week, a chart on your fridge (it might sound cheesy, but it really works for some people), a spreadsheet, an app that you check each day, or even just posting publicly on Facebook. You could even ask a friend to call you each day at a certain time to ask if you followed through with your goal for the day.
For me, blogging about my goals has been huge accountability for me.Putting all of my goals out there for my readers to see motivates me to follow through with them. I also find that sharing my goals with a few friends who will help me keep accountable. If I know someone is going to be checking in on me regularly, I am more likely to actually follow through with a goal.
3. Reward yourself regularly.
You have to reward yourself in order to stay the course. If you go, go, go and never take time to celebrate your success, you’ll end up exhausted.
Figure out some sort of small reward that will keep you highly motivated, and put that in place. Maybe at the end of 3 weeks, you’ll have coffee with a friend, buy yourself a new book, hire a baby sitter for a couple of hours, go shopping, or indulge in a treat. Pick something that you love, and give yourself permission to do it once you’ve reached your goal.
The reward doesn’t even have to be something you buy or go do at the very end of reaching your goal. It can be something you do along the way that motivates you daily. Maybe just tracking your progress motivates you internally and keeps you on course.
And be sure to make the reward match the goal in size. If it’s a smaller baby step, make it a smaller reward. If it’s a huge monumental success, have a huge celebration when you reach the finish line! Life is too short to not take time to celebrate your wins and successes!
4. Give yourself grace.
Don’t be a total goal-setting slave driver. Don’t be your worst critic and fill yourself with wrong, shameful messaging if you get off course or are going slower than you’d hoped. Beating yourself up because you haven’t hit all of your marks is not going to inspire you to stay the course.
Instead, give yourself grace. Understand that life will happen and there will be hiccups along the way. There will probably be certain circumstances that make it okay for you to set your goal aside for a day. For example, you might skip doing a Facebook Live one day if you have a child who was up sick all night long.
That said, don’t give yourself too much grace to the point that you fall off the bandwagon. However, it’s very important that you don’t exhaust yourself and burn yourself out by relentlessly chasing goal-setting success at the expense of your health, family, and sanity.
Have you ever struggled with following though with blogging goals you’ve set? What has helped you to stay motivated and actually accomplish your goals?