Top Ten Motivators

Setting goals is the easy part -- but sticking with them over the long run can be a major challenge! Some people think that motivation requires will-power and dedication. Actually, staying motivated is all about setting up an environment that is conducive to you accomplishing your goals. Here are ten "tricks" for giving your goals staying power past January 31st:

BREAK YOUR GOALS DOWN

Do you know why 90% of us don't keep our New Year's resolutions? Because our goals are too big and too vague. Instead of telling yourself that you want to "get organized," try breaking that goal down into something smaller and more concrete. "Clean out all clothes that haven't been worn in a year" or "move all of the sports equipment to the garage" gives you a solid place to start -- then you can move on to another small goal that will take you one step closer to "getting organized."

PUT IN 15 MINUTES A DAY

Some people think that you have to commit hours of uninterrupted effort if you want to accomplish a goal. But the greatest advances are often the sum total of a series of SMALL EFFORTS -- a drawer here, a cabinet there, maybe a closet. Once you have set your goals for the year, commit to spending 15 minutes each day doing something that will move you closer to accomplishing that goal. You will be amazed at how quickly you progress!

PAINT YOURSELF IN A CORNER

The worst deadline you can set for accomplishing a goal is "over the next year" -- too vague, to broad, and too much room for slacking. Sometimes it's best to paint yourself into a corner if you want to get a project done. If your goal is to clean out the guest bedroom closet, invite company over! Make a COMMITMENT to someone else -- just knowing that other people are counting on you is often just the little "push" you need to get moving.

WORK WITH A "BUDDY"

This rule doesn't just apply at the gym! Do you have a friend who can help out with some of your organizing projects? Two people will get more done in shorter period of time -- and you will be less inclined to keep a bunch of junk you don't need! Just remember that you will be expected to reciprocate when your friend gets ready to clean out! And if you can't recruit any free help, consider bringing in a Professional Organizer -- someone who can be objective about your clutter.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT YOUR PLANS

The best way to make yourself accountable for accomplishing your goals is to tell other people about your plans. The minute you spread the word that you are working on a project, people become interested in your progress. "Hey, how are you doing getting that garage in order?" Every time you hear those words, one of two things will happen. Either you will feel inspired to dig back in and get to work -- or you will feel lousy because you haven't made any progress. Option A gets you moving, while Option B tells you that something is out of alignment and you need to RE-EVALUATE your goals. Either one is a step in the right direction.

PUT IT DOWN ON PAPER

You've heard it a million times -- if you write a goal down, it is more likely to come to fruition. There is something about the act of putting your thoughts (any thoughts) on paper that makes you more committed to the outcome. You have invested time and energy writing your goals down -- what a waste if you didn't actually go through with them! And it is wonderfully therapeutic to cross an item off of your list once you complete it!

REVIEW YOUR GOALS REGULARLY

The best thing about writing your goals down is that you have something physical to hold in your hand and refer back to when you need a boost. But reviewing your goals doesn't just mean skimming the page and counting up how many things you haven't done yet. You must also ask yourself some questions about each goal -- why haven't I made more progress on this goal? What's getting in my way? Is this goal still important to me? If your priorities have changed, drop it from your list. You have enough important things to do -- you don't need to sweat over not accomplishing an unimportant task.

DEVELOP A "MANTRA"

Repetition is the mother of success, so you need to remind yourself of your goals everyday. Pick your most important goal this year, and turn it into a one-sentence "mantra." Your mantra should be in the form of an affirmation -- a statement phrased as though you have already accomplished your goal ("I am the master of my time" or "I live in a clutter-free environment.") Repeat this mantra first thing when you get up, last thing before you go to bed, when you are driving in the car, as you take a shower. Post sticky notes with your mantra on it around your home and office. Pretty soon, this will become your natural way of thinking -- keeping you going when you run into a roadblock.

ENJOY YOUR SUCCESSES

When was the last time you really acknowledged the fact that you accomplished an important goal? Too often, we simply charge into the next task on our list without really appreciating our achievements. Next time, spend a few minutes reflecting on what you have accomplished -- remembering the time and effort you invested and savoring the feeling of completion. This will refresh and renew your enthusiasm to continue on with your next goal. Without that moment of pause, you will eventually burn yourself out and lose all sense of motivation.

PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK

Do you reward yourself for a job well done? Lets go one step further -- do you plan ahead of time what reward you will give yourself when you complete a task on your list? There is a lot of wisdom in the old idea of a "carrot and stick." As you plan out your goals for the next year, attach a REWARD to each. It could be as simple as a walk around the block, or as grand as a two-week vacation -- just make sure that your reward is commensurate with the amount of work you will have to do to reach that goal. And be consistent about rewarding yourself for every accomplishment, no matter how small. You deserve it!

Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit http://www.onlineorganizing.com for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau -- and even get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you. And if you are interested in becoming a Professional Organizer, we have all the tools you need to succeed. If you would like to reprint this article, please send in an e-mail request to [email protected]

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