How to Have Fun with a Goal Along the Way

How to Have Fun with a Goal Along the Way

by: Emily Thomas

Here at Cultivate, we believe goal setting (and achieving!) is actually one of the MOST fun things in the whole world. And we think you probably do, too, or else you wouldn't hang around for our bright colors and garden metaphors! ;) 

We know that as important as setting good goals is, if it's all monotony, sacrifice, and hard work, it's unlikely that you'll stick with it for long. Good news: with the PowerSheets® process, it's not all drudgery and hard work! We do things differently around here, and that includes a whole lot of celebration, stickers, and fun along the way.

In fact, we take fun so seriously that one of the questions we pose to you in your PowerSheets Goal Action Plan pages is How will I have fun with this goal along the way? As you break down your goals and make a plan to live them out, we want you to keep fun and delight at the forefrontnot just as a reward at the end. After all, research shows that achieving a goal can actually lead to feelings of emptiness, since we're no longer moving forward. So, instead of focusing solely on racing to an endpoint, let's make sure that we're enjoying the journey along the way.

Here are a few suggestions to have fun with a goal and reward yourself along the way!

1. Choose something you enjoy.

When you think of a fitness goal, does your mind go straight to running? Yep, us, too. But what if you hate running? Instead of resentfully (but dutifully) lacing up your sneakers day after day, find a way to move your body that excites you. Swimming, dancing, kickboxing, rock climbing, yoga, and cycling are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative workout options. 

Similarly, if you love variety, don't box yourself in with a yearlong membership: try something like ClassPass, Peloton, or a gym membership that will allow you to bounce between multiple options.

This principle works for other types of goals, too:

  • If you're trying to save money, don't cut down in the budget categories that bring you the most joy.
  • If you want to spend more quality time with your kids, find an activity you both enjoy instead of one only they love. 
  • If you're adapting to a new diet, find dupes or incorporate favorite recipes and foods.

2. Follow or pair a new habit with something you love.

This tip is a version of habit stacking. If your goal involves a new behavior, follow it—reward it—with something you love. The reward should follow as closely as possible behind the behavior so that your brain connects the two!

For example, when my family was getting back into the habit of weekly church attendance after the pandemic, we decided to go out to lunch each week after the service (something we all enjoy!). Knowing something challenging (getting everyone dressed and out of the house on time, meeting new people) would be followed by something we loved was a great motivator.

Other examples:

  • Not looking forward to a new family meeting rhythm or a weekly financial check-in with your partner? Follow it up with a favorite dessert, a board game session, or a movie night.
  • Pushing yourself to network once a month? Reward yourself for stepping outside your comfort zone with your favorite coffee shop drink.
  • Everyone repeated the scripture verse you're memorizing as a family? Dole out the gummy vitamins! (They're very incentivizing to kids! 😉)

3. Share your progress.

Sharing your triumphs (even the small ones!) with the people you love can be a great motivator! Send a quick video of your latest weeknight meal, post a picture of your completed embroidery project, or share a photo from the finish line of last weekend's triathlon.

Whether you share with just one friend, your family text chain, on a social media account, or with the PowerSheets Facebook Group, know that your genuine joy and pride in a hard-earned accomplishment brings joy to the ones you love! (And might spur them on in their own goals, too!)

4. Add in some fun competition.

While some people would decidedly not find any sort of competition fun, for others, a little healthy competition adds a needed jolt of energy and a zest to their goal progress!

I've had good luck with this one myself—in Q1 of this year, the (grown-up) kids in my husband's family challenged each other to see which couple could amass the most Peloton minutes. Each month, the two losing couples had to pay the winner $20, and the winning couple had to use it for a date night the following month. I don't really consider myself a competitive person, but I logged more minutes cycling in three months than I had in the whole previous year! 

In a date-night rut? Switch off months planning and challenge each other to come up with creative outings. Trying to hit a goal at work? Up the ante with your coworkers.

5. Establish goal milestones with small rewards.

There's no doubt about it: frequently rewarding small progress milestones keeps you motivated to continue working at your goals! Little by little adds up :) And, of course, rewards in any form are one of the best kinds of fun! Here are a few simple goal reward ideas, many free or low-cost:

  • Grab a new book from the library or browse a bookstore (or craft store, or cooking store - whatever makes you happiest!)
  • Pick up a coffee shop drink
  • Pack a picnic and watch a sunset
  • Drive to a beautiful trail instead of exercising on your normal route
  • Take 30 minutes to read a novel
  • Apply a face mask
  • Bake a favorite dessert (boxed brownies for the win, friends!)
  • Cook a favorite meal (or order takeout one night!)
  • Refresh your pedicure
  • Snag a new workout top or swimsuit
  • Meet up for an ice cream cone
  • Go for a scenic drive
  • Take a hike
  • Watch a stand-up comedy special. (I'm partial to Jim Gaffigan and Nate Bargatze, both of whom have specials on Netflix and are fun for all audiences.)
  • Indulge in something from the trial section at Target, Sephora, or Ulta
  • Add a new sticker to your water bottle

6. Seek delight 

When the environment where you're working toward your goal is more pleasurable and enjoyable to be in, you're more likely to take the next action step. When brainstorming ideas of how to add delight to your space, consider how you might engage each of your senses. Some simple ideas:

  • Wear a favorite workout outfit while exercising, or a favorite work top while tackling a daunting project.
  • Use your favorite pen and good notebook. Use the stickers!
  • Listen to your favorite podcast or playlist
  • Work from a chic coffee shop when you've scheduled a block of deep work
  • Light candles at dinner
  • Sip a favorite tea or beverage
  • Create a cozy spot in your home with all your needed supplies
  • Clear the clutter from your desk or workstation
  • Forage an arrangement from branches in your neighborhood
  • Buy flowers from the grocery store or farmer's market

Many of these work as mini rewards for goal milestones, too!

7. Incorporate quality time with someone you love.

Spending time with the ones we love can already feel like a struggle for many of us. Why not fold quality time into our action steps? There are so many ways to do this!

  • Do the same activity together: This might look like taking an exercise class together, taking a walk together, volunteering together, or joining a book club.
  • Do the same activity side-by-side: This might look like cracking open cookbooks at the kitchen table and each planning a month of meals for your families, reconciling your budgets alongside each other, or meal prepping in one of your kitchens on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Do different activities side-by-side: Even if your goals are different, you can still spend companionable time together while you take action! Meet up at one of your homes, a coffee shop, a coworking space, or a local park with materials you need for whatever action item is next on your list. Knowing someone is waiting on you is a great motivator to keep your commitment to yourself and stay on task!

    8. Intentionally reflect on your success.

    Something as simple as taking a purposeful moment to notice your progress can be all the reward you need. Journal about what it means to have accomplished a goal or action step, or share with a friend what it means to you to have reached a milestone.

    Making progress is its own kind of fun, and when we pause long enough to notice it instead of racing to the next milestone, we'll reap the full benefits.

    9. Incorporate rest. 

    Whether rest looks like sleeping in, napping, taking a day off work or a habit, or simply stopping to quiet your mind and body, rest fuels you and your goal progress and is its own kind of gentle fun. And if you're someone who finds it challenging to rest? Well, chalk that nap up as a little harmless—and beneficial!—rebellion :)

    10. Do what matters.

    No matter what sounds fun to you, we hope this list has given you some food for thought (and ideas for what to add to that pesky square on your Goal Action Plan pages). The most important way to have fun with your goals along the way, though? It's not stickers or rewards or coffee shop drinks: it's doing what matters. Because when you set goals that really matter to you, goals that point you in the direction of where you want to be when you're 80, goals that change the lives of the people you love? There's literally nothing more fun than that.

    We’d love to hear from you! How are you having fun with your goals along the way?

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    Emily Thomas

    Emily Thomas

    Emily Thomas

    Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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