3 Small Steps to Reaching Your Big Goal

If you’ve ever set a big goal for yourself — like saving up cash for a down payment on a new home, losing 20 pounds or passing a certification exam — you know how hard it is to stay on track. You start out strong, counting calories or studying four hours a night. Cut to one month later and you’re sitting on your couch eating peanut butter fudge ripple and watching funny cat videos on a tablet propped up on your dusty textbook.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Recent studies have shown that only a quarter of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions longer than 30 days. How many goal-setters actually reach the finish line? Just 8%. In fact, according to athletic social networking company Strava, the second weekend in January marked the date when most social media users reported failing at their goal.

Still, there’s hope! Here are three simple steps that you can take to ensure you’ll hit your mark:

1. Think Small:

Instead of focusing on a major achievement like “lose 20 pounds” or “save $5,000” break your goal up into smaller, more achievable tasks. Keep the focus on your daily to-do list and you’re more likely to make measurable progress.

For example, your first step in losing weight could be to download a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt! and track your food intake for two weeks. By staying focused on smaller goals, you’ll avoid getting overwhelmed too quickly.

2. Keep Moving Forward:

If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up for it. Maybe you splurged on a new video game or a fabulous purse and didn’t put money in your savings this month. That’s ok! Remember, most New Year goal setters missed at least one step by mid-January.

The important thing is that you get back on track and plan how you’ll save next month. If you can, make up for a misstep by cutting out your weekly movie trip to save extra cash or by exercising more to offset the extra calories from that hot fudge sundae.

3. Find Your Goal Mate:

Research shows that accountability is a key factor in achieving goals. A study by the American Psychological Association showed that having a partner or coach monitor your progress increases your chances of success. You don’t have to hire an expert to fill this role, though.

Consider joining an online goal support group or starting a Facebook group for like-minded friends who are working toward their goals. But be selective with the “goal-mates” you choose. It’s not enough to just get words of encouragement. If you truly want to reach your big goal, your partner or support team has to hold you accountable for meeting your mini goals.

Finally, you’ll want to keep a log or written record of your progress. Not only will it enable you to track how you’re doing, you’ll also be able to share this info with your support team so you can stay accountable.

By breaking your end goal down into smaller chunks, quickly getting back on track if you fall off, and building a social support network, you may soon find yourself in that lucky (and extremely hardworking) 8% of people who reach their goal. Then all that’s left to do is… celebrate!

Start saving for your next big goal.

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The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.