I have a treat for you today, friends! Kelly Lee-Creel, a longtime PowerSheets® user and author, is joining us today to chat about an important topic: how to go the distance when working on a long-term goal. These goals can be some of the most impactful and meaningful to spend our time on, but they also require a different mindset! I know you'll find Kelly's words encouraging.—Emily
I don’t know about you, but around this time of year, I start craving signs of progress! Goals come in all shapes and sizes, but some take longer than others. If you’re writing a book, launching a website, or saving for a house, you might find yourself working on the same dream for months (or even years).
Sometimes, it can feel discouraging to keep copying the same goal over to next month’s Tending List. The good news is that with some extra care, you can set yourself up for success (and have fun along the way!).
Here are a few tricks I’ve learned for tackling long-term projects:
1. Create milestones. Break up your goal into smaller mini goals. If you’re having trouble choosing a mini goal, pick a milestone that will feel good to accomplish. Take a moment to picture yourself crossing off that step. How would it feel? A good milestone builds confidence and excitement.
For example, if you’re writing a book, your mini goal might be to make a list of all the ideas you can't wait to write about, or to arrange your schedule so that you have 30 minutes of dedicated writing time three mornings a week.
And when you’ve reached a big milestone, be sure to celebrate! Meet a friend for coffee. Enjoy a movie night. Tell someone about your progress.
2. Focus on the process. Some goals are going to be your companions for a long time, so you might as well become friends. Ask yourself: how can I make achieving this goal simpler? Easier? More fun? Discovering a good strategy can be just as valuable as making progress on the goal itself.
If you're working on a big financial goal, can you sit down with a cup of tea and favorite snack for your once-a-month budgeting session?
If you're working on a big health goal, can you clear out a dedicated corner of your bedroom so your weights, towel, or yoga mat are always at the ready?
If you're working on a big business goal, can you use a software system like Asana, Trello, AirTable, or TasksBoard to keep your next steps and best resources organized?
3. Keep your big-picture in front of you. Some days are hard. You may wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Your goal might seem so far off, you may even want to give up. (The longer your goal takes, the more chances this will happen!) These are the days when I need whispered reminders of who I am and what I believe.
Whether you choose a vision board, a single image, a classic countdown thermometer, or a meaningful phrase (little by little adds up, anyone?), an encouraging mantra or a reminder of your "why" can lead you through a rough patch.
As a bonus, if you repeat your why often enough, other people may start quoting it back to you!
4. Travel with friends. Not everyone will share your vision of the future, and that’s okay. However, we need people who will stick with us for the long haul and who also believe that good things take time.
If you have friends like that already, treasure them! One way to find more people with a cheerful outlook is to be that kind of friend to yourself and others. The PowerSheets Facebook group is also a great place to find an accountability partner, or to get general encouragement from like-minded gals as you check off milestones!
5. Take breaks. Rest is not a reward for accomplishing everything on your list, it is a basic human need. Make time to replenish your well often!
I think of it this way: if you’re climbing a huge mountain, you’re going to need a lot of fuel to get you to the top. The bigger your goal, the more playtime and refreshment you'll need. Sometimes, that might even look like pausing in your progress for a month, especially if other life events or goals necessitate it. This doesn't mean you're off-track or behind, just that you're being a good steward of all of the balls you're juggling in a full life!
Are you working on a long-term goal? What is it, and how long have you been at it? I’d love to hear your tips for making progress!
P.S. If you're working on a long-term goal, the quarterly refreshes are particularly important for you! They're a great opportunity to celebrate progress and make a plan for the months ahead. I can’t wait to fill mine out!
Kelly Lee-Creel is an author from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about faith, creativity, and courage on her blog, kellyleecreel.com.