How to Find Energy to Achieve Your Goals

How to Find Energy to Achieve Your Goals

The saying goes, “Every journey begins with a single step.” For me, at least, the problem isn’t that first step. I can delve into projects with great enthusiasm, no problem. It’s usually step number 352 that gets me down. Then, through lack of energy or simple frustration, I simply get off the road.

Achieving a goal often feels more like a bell curve to me. The beginning is great, and when I reach the end, all is well. It’s that pesky middle area, when the bump in the road appears and I feel like I’m running uphill for miles, that’s the hardest to overcome. I keep looking for the end to be in sight, and when I can’t see it, I can get discouraged and give up.

That’s not to say I never finish what I start. In those situations, I hit the middle bump and managed to push through to the finish line. Here are the things I’ve found that give me the energy to keep chugging along that uphill climb:

Remind yourself of that first step.

Ironically, remembering the beginning of the journey can help me through the middle. First, you can gauge the progress you’ve made between now and step 1, which can motivate you to keep pushing (or risk wasting all that time). Tapping into your original enthusiasm can also remind you why you’re pushing in the first place. If you wrote yourself reasons why you started pursuing your goals in the first place, bring those back now along with any other mementos of the early days. Nostalgia can be a strong emotional incentive to keep moving.

Focus on only a few goals.

Sometimes you get off the road simply because you have too many other things to do. Most normal humans can’t get an advanced degree, learn how to become a master chef, and run a local charity all at the same time. If you’ve taken on too much, prioritize what you want to do now, and reduce your list to a few key goals. You can table other goals for later when you have more bandwidth. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you achieve a few goals rather than fail at a bunch at once.

Remove distractions.

Want to keep working on your goal, but an online game keeps calling your name? Or you can’t get off Facebook? Now’s the time to cut back on distractions that keep you from fulfilling your goals. That doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey on your favorite time wasters (we all need a place to have a little mindless fun), but you can cut your time back to 20 minutes at a certain time of day, say, right when you get up. This fun time will help free up the rest of your day for focused goal-achieving time.

Take a break.

Have you been going 24-7 on your goal for the last 3 months? Here, a break from your goals might be called for. Take a week (or two or three) off to focus on something else to regain your energy. Burn-out is a very real problem that can hinder you from making real progress, so don’t feel bad if you just need to take a break and come back refreshed, even if that sets your schedule back a little bit.

Be honest if now’s not the time.

Sometimes, you really do need to get off the road for a while. This has happened to me several times in my life. I reached a stress level in my life where not reaching personal goals made my life much more manageable and fulfilling. Usually what happens in these situations is a year or two down the road, I’ve found more healthy ways to work on projects. And as a bonus, since I already put some time into that goal, I didn’t have to start from square one when I rejoined the race.

***

There are a host of reasons why you might not have the energy to reach a personal goal. Do you have any stories to add from your own experiences? Share them in the comments below.

Photo by Shanon Wise

Deborah Fike

Deborah Fike is a full-time mom and founder of Avalon Labs, which provides consultations and writing services for start-ups and online businesses. She believes in the power of self-reflection and positive change.

Latest posts by Deborah Fike (see all)

35 Comments

  1. Thank you for the article, it was just what I needed to hear and remind me one step at a time. I recently started a class to obtain my PHR in Human Resources and have not been in a classroon setting in more than 20yrs. It’s 3 weeks in and already i was starting to allow myself to think faliure? My first post-study test I got 12 questions wrong out of 35 and felt like OMG, worse part it was an open book.. I really didn’t do the required reading and off to a rocky start and hoping I will build the discipline for a successful finish. I know I can if I allow myself so I will use this article as motivation to keeping it simple.

    Reply
    • Sharon, I feel your pain. I started college after I turned 40. I thought I was going to pass out before I even hit the classroom I was so nervous and so sure that everyone was going to be so much smarter than me. I eventually got into the swing of things and did just fine. You, too, can get there-certainly some great suggestions here from Deborah!

      Reply
      • Thank you Kim, that certainly helps to hear knowing I’m not alone.. I attended a Nursing Graduation a couple weeks ago and one of the grads was a 60yr old male, Inspiring.

        Reply
        • You ladies are inspiring! My mother went to college and earned her teaching degree while I was in middle school, and I know how hard and challenging it can be.

          Good luck on your journey, Sharon, and may I be as willing as you to push myself to new heights as I continue to age.

          Reply
  2. Great advice and timely too. I’m two-thirds of the way through a book I’m writing and I needed to hear this. Thanks.

    Reply
    • If you’re 2/3rds of the way, you’re more than halfway home! Good luck finishing that last bit…you’ll get over the hump and feel great once you cross the finish line.

      Reply
  3. I like this post. I think this is a problem for quite many people — just think of those who signed up for a gym membership in January, actually made it there for several time, then. . .by this time of the year, wondering why they are not motivated to go there.

    Distraction is a real energy sucker, I guess. And there are so many of them!

    Reply
    • Distractions can be a real motivation zapper. I’ve found that if I try to kill all distractions, then I get distracted by thinking about those distractions I wish I were doing. (Say that five times fast. ^_^) It’s good to have “me time,” but you have to keep limits so you still have time to focus on other goals too.

      Reply
    • Yes, people do get distracted and lose motivation soon after setting goals. They forget that it took months/years for the negative lifestyle/thought process to be ingrained in their lives and thought processes.

      People want the quick fix and when it doesn’t happen right away, they drop the ball.

      Setting big goals is important, but having mini goals that lead to the big goal and are easy to accomplish, will keep the motivation going and the result is, the ultimate goal will be more attainable.

      An example would be a weight loss goal. It took probably months, perhaps years to gain that extra weight.. A diet/exercise plan and powerful supplements will help to achieve the goal, but it just takes time. More time than people generally allow.

      Reply
      • Great insight into the conversation. In our digital world, we want instant results when it often takes time to make real change (or achieve large goals) in our lives. I agree that making the mini goals makes it that much more important so we can keep our short-term perspective geared toward the long-run picture.

        Reply
  4. Good ideas. Now we need to add other people. We do have other people in our life–partners, lovers, friends, colleagues–and we need them to reach our goals.
    Turn to creative people for energy, advice, and support. Our goals are almost never reached solo. Gary

    Reply
    • Thanks for adding one to the list, Gary. Getting the support of people in our lives is also a great way to push through and achieve goals.

      Reply
  5. Deborah,

    Thanks for these insightful tips! The messiest part of the journey towards our goals is usually in the middle. We all could use a boost to get through it.

    I would also add to your list the idea of surrounding yourself with the right people. Gary Stokes mentioned this and I will just expand on that point.

    Surrounding yourself with supportive friends will help you breakthrough to the finish line. On the other hand, drowning yourself in toxic and negative individuals will only hold you back.

    The process of reaching most goals will cause change to ripple throughout your life. Some of your friends will support the new you. Some will resent you for the change. I have drifted apart from old friends because they chose to stay on their well-worn path, as oppose to joining me on my newly blazed trail.

    Not all is lost, however. My new path has always rewarded me with new friends who support and encourage me towards reaching my goals.

    Maybe that’s what we need to reach our goals: be willing to let go of some of our past. After all, how can we fit new things into our lives while we’re still cluttered with old baggage?

    Reply
    • I have also experienced the emotional toll of having negative individuals in my life, and like you, Ivan, I found that minimizing their influence on me has allowed me to achieve more things. Thanks for expanding on this point; it’s a great one to add to the list.

      Reply
  6. Nice article, keep it up :)

    Reply
  7. When I was finishing my book last year, it helped to have “small step” goals. As you say, it makes it much more manageable. And you have so many more accomplishments along the way!

    Reply
    • It’s nice feeling like you’re reaching a lot of little goals. It makes progress that much more tangible, at least for me.

      Reply
  8. Hi Deborah,

    Reminding yourself of the first step was something that helped me tremendously a few years back achieve my masters degree. During the first week we were shown a presentation of how the degree was like climbing a mountain. Slide after slide after slide showed these climbers going higher up the mountain. As I progressed through the 18 month program (online btw) I kept that first week’s visualization in place. Remembering that week – that presentation – kept me going many times during that period.

    Thanks for sharing a great post this week.

    Reply
    • That’s great that your Masters program showed that right up front, so you had something to reference. Sometimes just knowing the middle might feel like forever will lessen its impact on your progress.

      Reply
  9. Thanks for the article with has been posted…………. The article has now again made me enthusiastic to achieve my goal with greater zeal and josh. Focus on the goal and Remove distractions has been very much helpful to me. I also want to advise that those who preparing for any exam or job or anything else, Plzzz don’t give up now as this may be the final stair in the long staircase and you may on the top of heaven after working hard for just a few more time. And also remember “Hard work never killed anyone.”

    Reply
    • Glad to hear you’ve used some of these techniques with success, Surat. And as you said, you may give up just before the finish line, so sometimes, giving yourself a little push will lead you to your goal.

      Reply
  10. I think taking breaks is so so important. I find myself taking a break every 90 minutes and it boosts my energy level every single time. Now, taking breaks doesn’t mean playing on social media or checking emails, but it means breathing mindfully, stretching or even taking a walk. When I come back to work, my mind feels so much sharper and my thoughts are a lot clearer.

    Reply
    • I love the idea of doing something physical on your break. I also have used walks successfully to get my mind back in the game during a long writing session. Doing something physical can really boost your energy levels.

      Reply
  11. As a self-employed person working from home, it’s not so much a lack of energy as a lack of focus that I have to beware of. I find it essential to create an environment in which I consciously shut out distractions that delay my finishing a piece of work – even to the extent of not checking emails until a pre-arranged break or letting phone calls go to voice mail.

    I have also found it useful to “trick” myself into getting work done in a set amount of time. I have a horror of being late, so setting an appointment or a deadline (it has to be with a third party!) works well for me.

    Reply
    • I second your trick of setting deadlines. I use my calendar book to set mini deadlines and it helps to keep me on track.

      Reply
  12. Writing books has taught me much about reaching goals: it’s less about energy, and more about pacing and balancing. Long projects are easy if you take them one step at a time. I’ll be releasing my second book, “At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy,” on May 1, 2013. See http://www.danerickson.net to learn more.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for sharing this great post with us. Great advice and timely too. I am about finishing my first book and target to publish my first book before June, 2013.

    My humble opinion is keep challenging you daily to do something new. Last year, I just completed the required 10 speeches to earn my Competence Communicator from Toastmaster International, after my two professional degrees locally and oversea.

    Always start new venture with a baby step, follow by full before taking a huge step. Keep going and stay focus on your goal.

    Wish you guys great success,
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Having smaller daily challenges is a good idea to keep moving ahead. In my experience, it’s good if you can keep it fresh too, so it doesn’t feel like you’re doing too much of the same thing over and over again. Thanks for the added insight.

      Reply
  14. The intro made me think of one of my favorite books of all time: The Dip by Seth Godin.

    This is so true, and your tips are all excellent for seeing things through and pushing past the difficult part to achieve your goals. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I love Seth Godin! He’s my inspiration in all my marketing-related ventures. Glad to meet a fellow fan.

      Reply
  15. Dear Deborah,
    Whenever I read inspirational articles, like this one, I feel like saluting the goodness of people , like you, who spend time to motivate people based upon their experience. Yes, the middle plateau is always problematic as the enthusiasm wanes after the initial spurt or too many distractions take over. I find it difficult to go back to the work on hand after some unintended break. Some push is required at this stage( like George Washington helping push a cart stuck in the mud) from like minded friends or motivators like you. Thanks.

    Reply
    • I like the George Washington cart analogy. It’s true at some level you simply need a push. It helps to realize that others are going through the same problems that you may have faced in the middle of a major goal.

      Reply
  16. Dear Deborah, thanks for this wonderful post. You’re right about reminding ourselves of that first step (be it a new business, new relationship or new exercise regime etc). As it shall surely come to a point where we are bogged down by the challenges that life will bring, and we contemplate throwing in the towel. Reminding ourselves of our early enthusiasm and our reasons for pursuing our goals, shall re-ignite that fire in our belly once again. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Abigail,

      I’m glad you felt that was important too. I’ve found that nostalgia and returning to the initial passion can get me through a lot of things. Good luck with your own journey!

      Deborah

      Reply

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