Setting goals is not the same as completing goals. How often do you get started on a project that you never finish? People regularly set goals and rarely follow through with them.

There are many reasons for failing at completing a goal. You may lack the motivation. You may hit a roadblock or an obstacle. Or you may get frustrated with your progress.

You have the power to reach your goals. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. If you are tired of failing at dieting, working out, getting promotions, or any other aspect of your life, it could be time to take a look at your approach. Make sure you are preparing properly for the challenges you face.

Everyone Has the Ability to Achieve Their Goals

Regardless of the reason, learning how to actually stick to your goals and not let these difficulties get in your way is something that everyone can benefit from.

That is the goal of this guide. You are going to learn how to achieve your goals and break bad habits.

Everyone has the ability to achieve their goals. No matter how many times you have failed at a task, you can succeed. You just need to learn the right steps for sticking to your goals:

  1. How to set your goals
  2. The importance of good habits
  3. The key to staying on track and motivated
  4. Developing positive habits for life
  5. Increase your focus and commitment
  6. Transforming your life for the better

You can live a rich life and reach your dreams. You are going to learn how. But you will need to take action. Read this entire guide and then begin putting the steps discussed into practice.

If you are tired of giving up or coming up with excuses, then you are ready to learn how to achieve your goals and break bad habits. Good luck.

Step #1: How to Set Your Goals

Before you can achieve your goals, you need to set them. This is actually the area where many people fail. You may not properly plan out your strategy for completing your goals or not put enough thought into the process.

By learning  how to set your goals, you can increase your chances of success.

Procrastination

The Motivation / Procrastination Cycle

Many people are guilty of procrastination. It is a common problem and can easily prevent you from reaching your goals. No matter how much motivation you have when you first set your goals, it is easy to simply let time slide and give up. This is the motivation / procrastination cycle. It works like this:

  • You get motivated to complete a task.
  • You prepare for the task and everything works out okay for the first couple of days.
  • Something comes up and distracts you from your plans.
  • Instead of getting back on track, you avoid the task due to your guilt after getting distracted in the first place.
  • You find excuses to procrastinate and put off your task.
  • You eventually begin to forget all about your original goal.
  • Several months will pass and you get motivated to try the same task again.
  • The cycle continues.

You will never get anywhere if you are constantly running around in circles. Luckily, there is a way to get out of this cycle and head on a straight path.

There are three main steps to achieving anything that you set out to accomplish:

  1. Use your motivation
  2. Always start small
  3. Schedule your life

#1 – Use Your Motivation

You need more than motivation to accomplish a challenge. But  you can still use your motivation to get you started on the right foot. You need to learn how to properly ride your motivational wave.

By riding your motivation wave, you can get started on your goals. Often, the biggest hurdle is the first step of any goal.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you first need to choose a diet, set a start date, plan your meals, clean your cupboards, and purchase groceries.

You can use your initial motivation to take care of these first steps. While you are still excited about starting a diet, you should research different diets, pick a start date, and get ready to start.

By the time your motivation dies out, you will already have everything in place to stay on track. This is one of the greatest ways to instantly boost your chances of success.

Use this tip the next time you feel motivated to accomplish a goal or task. When you are feeling motivated, create a list of everything you need to get started on your goal.

Make your arrangements immediately. You may need to purchase equipment, perform research, or set a date to get started. Take care of these tasks while you are still riding your motivational wave.

#2 – Always Start Small

The next tip is to start small. Do not burn yourself out by rushing into a project. Making small changes allows you to gradually conquer your task.

For example, if you want to get into better shape, you would not immediately begin a rigorous workout schedule. Instead, you could start with 5-to-10 minutes of exercise each day. Every week, you slowly increase the duration of your workout. The same can be applied to any task:

  • Instead of giving up soda pop cold turkey, you could replace one beverage with water each day until you give up the habit.
  • Instead of quitting cigarettes cold turkey, you could keep track of how many you smoke each day and scale back.
  • Instead of creating a multi-million-dollar business, you should concentrate on making your first dollar.
  • Instead of giving up junk food, you could replace one snack with a healthy option, such as fresh fruit. Slowly replace your existing diet with healthier alternatives.

Basically, you want to avoid burnout. It is easy to get tired of a task if you give it everything you have as early as possible. Rushing into a project also increases your chances of getting side tracked or deviating from your plan. This can lead you back to the motivation/procrastination cycle.

Focus on one small task at a time. Take small steps instead of trying to leap forward.

#3 – Schedule Your Life

The third step in setting your goals is to create a schedule. It is fun to use various productivity applications and programs to assist with your daily planning. But these applications can get in the way of your success. You could easily end up spending more time fiddling with one of these programs instead of actually getting started on your project.

You do not need detailed charts and productivity apps to stay on track. You just need a basic calendar. Schedule your week ahead of time. This includes your work schedule.

You will then break your main goal into smaller steps. Schedule time for these steps throughout the week. Remember, you are going to take small steps to complete your goal. But, you first need to make sure that you actually finish these steps. Write these steps on your calendar so that you can have a daily reminder.

You Need to Start Off on the Right Foot

These simple 3 steps can make a major difference in how you start your goals. Getting started is where most people fail. By riding your motivational wave, starting small, and scheduling your goals, you can dramatically increase your chances of success. Remember to take everything one step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.

You know now how to get started on your goals, but you still need to learn how to develop good habits. Good habits will help you stay on track and boost your ability to finish anything you start.

Step #2: The Importance of Good Habits

You now understand the basics of how to set your goals. The next step is learning how to create good habits.

Habits can be good or bad. They are a part of your daily life. Almost everything you do revolves around habits. This includes how you brush your teeth, put on your clothes, and prepare your food. By learning how to develop better habits and replace bad habits, you will be able to do what you want without having to think about it.

Break Your Bad Habits

First, you will need to understand how habits work. There are three main components to any habit:

  • The cue
  • The routine
  • The reward

The cue is what triggers the habit. Next, comes the routine. This is the habit being performed. The reward is the reason for performing the routine.

For example, you likely follow a specific habit for getting up in the morning. You may set an alarm to wake you up. After waking up, you may then head to the kitchen to start the coffee.

This entire process is a habit. The cue is your alarm, the routine is getting out of bed and preparing the coffee and the reward is drinking the coffee.

Your brain is making a connection that when the alarm goes off it is time to get out of bed, make coffee, and then drink a cup of coffee as a reward. Good habits and bad habits are formed and carried out in the same manner.

Generally, when you read advice about giving up bad habits or developing good habits, you are advised to focus on the routine itself. The truth is, the reward is more important.

Change the Reward

If you struggle to work out each day instead of focusing on the actual exercise routine, you should think about the reward. You could give yourself a piece of chocolate after completing your workout.

The small piece of chocolate will not interfere with your diet, as long as you keep it to a minimum. But, the chocolate will help your brain make a connection between the routine and reward. Your brain will begin to accept that whenever you complete an exercise routine, you get a piece of chocolate as a reward.

This same example could be applied to eating healthy. You could give yourself a reward at the end of the day if you stick to your diet. This could be a small piece of chocolate or another light snack that will not derail your diet. Though, there are plenty of other examples of rewards that you can use for any situation.

Here are a few rewards that you could use to change the way your brain responds to routines:

  • Allow yourself to sit on the couch and watch television after completing a workout.
  • Take a warm shower after a long workout routine.
  • Give yourself a short break after 30 minutes of exercise.
  • Purchase something special after sticking to your budget all month.

The goal is to change the way your brain thinks about specific routines. You want your brain to be excited about the task that you are completing. By changing the reward, you can easily change the behavior.

Replacing Bad Habits with Good Habits

Replacing the reward is a great way to develop good habits, but it can be difficult for getting rid of certain bad habits. This applies to situations where you need to give up a bad habit, such as smoking or overeating. These are habits that are incredibly hard to give up cold turkey.

In these situations, you will want to work on replacing the bad habit with good habits.

Smoking is an addiction and when your brain craves nicotine the only release is to smoke a cigarette. Instead of giving this up cold turkey, you can slowly cut back as mentioned earlier, and give yourself a reward for reaching each small goal. But, this may not be enough for some people.

Replacing the bad habit with a good habit will increase your chances of success. For each cigarette that you cut out of your daily total, you could replace that cigarette with a piece of candy or chocolate.

The same works with snacking. If you tend to grab a snack from the vending machine at work and want to cut back, then begin replacing this snack with a healthy alternative.

The bottom line is that you need to replace bad habits with good habits. Take small steps to change your behavior and include simple rewards for additional motivation.

Step #3: The Key to Staying on Track and Motivated

It is perfectly natural to fail or get side tracked from a project or goal. Setbacks occur all the time. They can happen in any situation. It is how you deal with these setbacks that determine if you can accomplish your goals.

Learning how to keep a habit once you get started is the key to staying on track and motivated. You cannot let setbacks, large or small, stop you from accomplishing your goals.

Staying Motivated

Sometimes, a setback is simply your brain letting you know that you need to take a break. When you push yourself too hard, you increase the likelihood of failure or mistakes.

Push Ahead or Take a Break

First, you need to learn when to push ahead with your goals and when to use the setback as an indicator to take a break.

As an example, your goal is to get in the best shape of your life. You have been eating healthy and working out every day. Then, one day, you skip your workout and binge on snacks and candy.

Should you push ahead and squeeze in a workout before the end of the day? Or, should you take a break before getting back on the wagon? In order to answer these questions, you will have to ask yourself a few additional questions.

These questions are divided into two categories – pushing ahead and taking a break.

When is it Best to Push Ahead?

  • If I avoid this task today, will I be unable to continue tomorrow?
  • If I avoid this task today, will I be unable to reach my goal in time?
  • If I avoid this task today, will I impact someone else’s goals?

If you answered yes to any of these three questions, then your best option is to push yourself to continue with your task.

When is it Best to Take a Break?

If you answered no to all three questions, then you could probably afford to take a short break and resume your progress in a day or two. Though, there are a few more questions that you can use to determine if rest is the best option:

  • Has my commitment to this task become more important than my relationships?
  • Has my commitment to this task become more important than other commitments?
  • Has my commitment to this task made me feel drained or exhausted?

Answering yes to these questions indicates that perhaps you are pushing yourself too hard. You need to take a break and relax for a day or two.

Taking a break does not mean giving up. You are simply giving yourself some time to reset your brain. After getting off track, you need to think about the reason that you failed or got distracted.

Using Failure as Motivation

Whether you decide to take a break or push ahead due to a setback or mistake, you can use this failure as motivation. You can take the setback as a sign that you are moving forward. Before you can fail, you must first make the attempt. By attempting to change bad habits or reach your goals, you are naturally making progress.

You can also learn from your mistakes. Think about the reason why you failed. Consider the factors that led to your setback so that you can attempt to avoid them in the future.

Everyone Fails Occasionally

It is completely natural to get distracted, slip up, skip a day, or somehow fail at your current task. Do not let this deter you from the bigger picture.

When you fail, there is likely a good reason. When people simply ignore the failure and attempt to get back on track, they are likely to fail again. By not addressing the problem, there is a good chance that they will repeat the mistake in the future.

You need to explore the reason that you got off track. Are you lacking motivation? Did you forget an important step? Do you need to do more research? Consider the reason for the failure and then move forward.

You should evaluate the reason for your failure. Think about why you failed. Then, decide if you should continue right away or take a break for a day or two while you get your bearings straight. Use the failure as motivation. In order to fail, you need to try, so at least you are moving forward.

How you deal with setbacks determines your success. Learn from your mistakes, use them as motivation to succeed, and consider taking a break occasionally.

Step #4: Developing Positive Habits for Life

You can set goals and deal with setbacks, but you also need to be able to stick with your new habits for life. Losing weight or getting in better shape is not a part time commitment. The habits that you develop can assist you for the rest of your life.

It can also be difficult to maintain a consistent routine for months on end. If you have a major project or goal in mind, it may take you several months before you complete it.

If you want to boost your ability to succeed, you need to know how to develop positive habits for life.

Track Your Commitment to Your Goals

When you work towards a goal for months, tracking your commitment will help you reach the end. However, you may need a little extra motivation to help you stay on track.

Dealing with a minor setback is one issue, as covered in the previous section, but you also need to learn how to minimize these setbacks and remain focused on your goals.

The simplest solution is to track your commitment. This can be performed with a basic wall calendar. As mentioned in the first section on setting goals, scheduling your life on a calendar helps you keep track of what you should accomplish each day.

Along with writing down your daily tasks, you should keep track of how many days in a row you have stuck to your commitment.

The Large Red X Method

Every day that you complete your daily task, write a large red X on your calendar for the day. After several days, you will begin to see a series of red Xs across the calendar. Your calendar will act as a running record of your progress and your commitment.

How to Gain Motivation

After several weeks, your long line of red X’s will help to motivate you. Seeing even a single day without a red X will encourage you to get right back on track.

When you slip up and take a break from your routine, you will have the motivation to continue working towards your goal as soon as possible. You do not want to let too many days go by without a solid X.

Purchase a Paper Wall Calendar

After reading this section, some of you will be motivated to download a calendar app or to start using whichever calendar you currently use on your computer. This is not recommended.

While you can use an electronic calendar for basic record keeping, just purchase a cheap paper wall calendar for tracking your daily commitment to your goals.

If you have a printer, you could print a calendar. Word processors often have a calendar template that you can use to quickly print a paper calendar.

Hang your calendar somewhere where you can see it every day—and throughout the day. Use a large red marker for marking your X’s. This will make them more visible.

Every time you walk past your calendar, you can glance at it and receive a small boost of motivation.

Use the wall calendar technique any time you start a new goal. If you have multiple projects that you are working on at the same time, you could use different colored markers for adding a mark to your calendar.

Maintaining Your Positive Habits

The calendar method will help you maintain your positive habits for life. You can use this in any situation. It is so simple, yet many people would prefer to make matters more complicated by using various productivity applications and programs.

Over time, you will find that it becomes easier to stick to your commitments and accomplish your goals. You should realize that the methods you are learning will not only help you anything you want.

These positive habits will become a part of your daily life. Without even thinking about it, you will apply these steps to everyday tasks.

At work or at home, you will naturally use your new good habits to succeed. You will be able to finish tasks with less effort. You will find it easier to give up bad habits and develop good habits.

You really can develop positive habits for life. Take everything one step at a time. You only move forward one day at a time. Mark your accomplishments on your wall calendar. Use your visible track record as a form of motivation and you will be able to finish anything that you set your sights on.

Step #5: Increase Your Focus and Commitment

The calendar method is an easy way to remain focused and committed while accomplishing your goals. But there are a few more techniques that can dramatically help you out.

How to Set Goals

If you truly want to succeed, no matter the obstacles you face, then use the following techniques in addition the steps already discussed. If you put these steps into practice, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.

  • Break down your goals
  • Set macro goals
  • Choose a reward

These three steps will help you put together all of the techniques mentioned throughout this guide. You first need to break down your goals and set macro goals. Then, choose a reward for each macro goal. Here is a closer look at each of these steps.

Break Down Your Goals

You will need to break down your goals into smaller goals. Decide what your goal is and determine each of the steps that will lead you there. Break your goal down one step at a time. Determine what the first step is, the second, the third, etc.

Make a list of each of these steps. As you start writing out the steps, you may find additional steps or uncover issues that you had not thought of before. This process helps you to prepare for your goal and evaluate what is needed to succeed.

Set Macro Goals

Once you have divided your primary goal into smaller steps, you can set macro goals. These are smaller goals that you complete on your path to reaching your main goal.

As an example, if you want to lose 48 pounds, you should divide this into several macro goals. You could set a monthly macro goal of losing 4 pounds. Within 12 months, you should be able to reach your goal of losing 48 pounds.

If your goal is to get a promotion, then some of your macro goals may include receiving additional training, getting assigned a specific work project, becoming part of a specific department, or receiving a positive performance evaluation.

If your goal is to get in the best shape of your life, some of your macro goals could include choosing a meal plan, starting your workout routine, increasing your workout, and hitting specific exercise milestones – such as performing 10 push-ups in a row or performing a single pull-up.

Set a timeline for each of your macro goals. Mark the end date on your wall calendar and remember to include a large X for each day that you stick to your plans.

You can use this method to complete almost any task within one year. Simply divide your goal into at least 12 monthly goals and mark them on your calendar.

Choose a Reward

Next, you need to choose a reward for each of your macro goals. The reward should be small yet large enough to help motivate you to complete your macro goal.

As discussed earlier, you can use rewards to help change bad habits and to motivate you to stick to your plans. This can be applied to your macro goals.

Choose a suitable reward and write it down on the end date for that macro goal. If you reach your goal by the end date, then you get your reward. If it takes longer, then you should take the reward away.

Here are some examples of rewards that you can use. Feel free to use any of these examples or come up with your own:

  • Purchase an inexpensive item from your Amazon wish list
  • Treat yourself to your favorite meal – such as pizza or a cheeseburger
  • Take an extra day off from your regular schedule
  • Go to the theater and watch a movie on the big screen
  • Purchase tickets to an event, such as a concert or festival
  • Take a short trip to a fun location or shopping destination
  • Spend a day relaxing at a spa or resort
  • Binge watch an entire season of a television show online in a single day
  • Purchase your favorite snack or dessert

Obviously, these are just examples. You can choose anything that appeals to you. The purpose of choosing a reward is to help change the way that your brain thinks about your routine. You should be excited to stick to your routine each day. You should be motivated to reach your macro goals.

Put these steps into action. Break down your goal into macro goals and then choose rewards for each of these small steps.

Step #6: Transforming Your Life for the Better

You almost have everything that you need to succeed at any task. If you truly want to transform your life for the better, there are still a few more factors to consider:

  • You can reach for the stars
  • Never give up on your dreams
  • Create amazing life goals
  • Enjoy life to the fullest

You Can Reach for the Stars

The steps that have been provided will help you reach your goals. But, you should also think about the bigger picture. Do not set your sights too short. You can accomplish anything that you set your mind to. You can reach for the stars.

Set Your Goals

You should use the steps outlined in this guide to accomplish the tasks that you have always struggled to complete. You can finally reach your ideal weight, build the physique that you have always wanted, and get the promotion that you have been waiting for. But, do not stop there.

Continue using these techniques in every aspect of your life. You are going to develop positive habits that will help you in all stages of your life. This is not a temporary solution to help you achieve success. This is a long-term transformation.

Never Give Up on Your Dreams

Also, remember to never give up on your dreams. This has been mentioned repeatedly, but it is worth mentioning again – how you deal with setbacks and failure determines your chances of success. Everyone slips up occasionally.

You need to realize that it is never too late to reach your dreams. When you fail or experience a setback, you need to either take a short break or get right back on track as soon as possible.

Create Amazing Life Goals

Along with the common goals related to health, fitness, work, and relationships, you should set life goals. Set goals that may take years to accomplish. Do not be afraid to set your sights on something that would normally seem impossible or out of your reach.

Use the techniques discussed. Break down these long-term goals into smaller goals. Divide the smaller goals into macro goals.

Enjoy Life to the Fullest

As a final tip, you need to remember to enjoy life to the fullest. You should never let your goals get in the way of your happiness. If working towards your goal is interfering with your happiness, then perhaps you should choose a new goal. You may need to rethink your position. Perhaps there is another direction you could go.

Completing a goal should give you satisfaction. If you find it a daily struggle to commit to your goal, then you should start considering whether it is worth the effort.

Final Thoughts on Breaking Bad Habits and Reaching Your Goals

The number one reason that people fail in their plans is that they are not properly prepared.

It is not complicated to put all of the steps outlined in this guide together. If you need to, refer back to this guide at any time to reaffirm your commitment to your goals. As a review of everything covered here is a quick rundown of each of the steps provided:

  1. Set Your Goals Properly
  2. Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits
  3. Push Ahead or Take a Break
  4. Track Your Commitment
  5. Break Down Your Goals
  6. Set Your Sights on Major Goals

#1 – Set Your Goals Properly

The first step is to set your goals properly. You should not rush into any project. Use your initial motivation to prepare yourself for the task at hand. This means doing your research, purchasing any necessary equipment, and preparing yourself for actually carrying out your macro goals.

You will ride your motivational wave to get everything in order so that you are fully prepared to get started on your project. This allows you to start small. Take everything one step at a time.

#2 – Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits

Next, you will begin replacing bad habits with good habits. All habits, good or bad, can be divided into three parts. This includes the cue, the routine, and the reward.

Instead of focusing on changing the routine, you should focus on the reward. Come up with a reward that you can give yourself for completing a goal or reaching a short-term milestone.

#3 – Push Ahead or Take a Break

Failure is inevitable. Everyone fails at some point. Minor setbacks and distractions should not prevent you from accomplishing your goals. When you fail, there is likely a reason for the failure.

If you want to avoid making the same mistake, you should evaluate the reason for your failure, setback, or distraction. From there, you can decide if it is best to take a short break or push ahead.

#4 – Track Your Commitment

You will also want to track your commitment. This is different from tracking your progress. You are not writing down the steps you have accomplished. You are simply keeping track of whether or not you stuck to your commitments each day. This is a pass or fail, there is no middle ground. You either accomplished everything that you wanted to accomplish for the day or you did not.

You will use a paper wall calendar to keep track of this daily commitment. As you stay on course, the growing number of consecutive days with a large X marked on the calendar will motivate you to keep the streak going. You do not want to break the chain.

#5 – Break Down Your Goals

Though, there is one thing that you want to break – your goals. You should break your goals down into macro goals. You will not drop 60 pounds in a month or reach your ideal physique in several weeks. These are long term goals that can easily be divided into a series of short-term goals.

After you determine your macro goals, set an end date for each macro goal and a final date for your main goal. Mark these dates on your wall calendar. Choose a small reward for each macro goal that you accomplish. This will help you stay motivated and boost your chances of success.

That covers the basics of achieving your goals and breaking bad habits. But, you do not need to stop there.

#6 – Set Your Sights on Major Goals

Along with accomplishing the goals that you have always wanted to accomplish, you can set your sights on major goals. Do not be afraid to dream big. You can reach for the stars.

Never give up on anything that you want to complete. Use these tips to accomplish anything you choose. But, do not let this get in the way of your happiness. If you do not feel satisfied after completing your macro goals, then you may need to find a different goal. You should be happy when you complete a task. Otherwise, you should consider whether or not it is worth the effort.

You Can Accomplish Anything You Want in Life

It is fun to get really excited about a task and then rush into the project. Unfortunately, this almost always results in failure.

When you decide that you want to accomplish a task, instead of rushing full steam ahead, you should direct that motivation towards getting started properly. Remember these steps. You have the power to do anything you set your mind to.

Get Started Today!

You can use these tips and techniques to succeed at anything. The key to developing good habits and staying on track is to take your time. Refer back to this guide whenever you need to review the steps needed to break bad habits and reach your goals.

Set your goals, develop good habits, stay on track, continue using these habits to accomplish more goals, break down your goals, and transform your life for the better.

Get started today. Now that you know how easily it is to stay on track, you can finally reach your ultimate goals. Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Los is the CEO of Hype media, a publishing company focused on helping fitness influencers build brands.