How to Start Following Through on Your Goals

Do you struggle with not following through on ideas, plans, or goals? 

Research shows that we get a dopamine hit from daydreaming about an enticing thought, but that “high” goes away when it’s time to put in the effort to make that concept a reality. When we lose that motivation, we may seek out a new idea to get that dopamine hit again, and the vicious cycle continues. 

We can also be tricked into believing that we’re being productive when we spend our time/energy thinking through our ideas and sharing our thoughts with others. This is again due to the dopamine spikes we experience when imagining the benefits of our ideas and gaining positive feedback from others. This influx of dopamine can deceive our brains into thinking that we’ve already achieved our goal, even though we haven’t actually taken any action toward doing so!

Here are a few ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll reach your goals:   

  • Identify the Goal – Is there anything you’ve been saying you’re going to do but haven’t done? Pick something that is aligned with your values and write it down! Make sure it’s specific and realistic, and choose a personal due date for when you want it to be completed.
  • Prioritize Action Over Perfection – Sometimes, the fear of failure can be the force behind this frustrating habit. Don’t allow high expectations to stop you from taking action. Doing something, even if it’s only for two minutes, is always better than doing nothing.
  • Reward Yourself for Progress – When you take a step towards your goal, reward yourself! This can look like downtime, time with friends, or any healthy activity that brings you joy. You can also set a bigger reward for when your goal is met, like a spa day or taking a trip.
  • Detox From Quick Dopamine – Be aware of how much time you’re spending on activities that provide quick dopamine hits, like scrolling online, TV/video games, and eating processed foods/sugar. Aim to incorporate more activities that replenish the mind, like meditation, movement, and spending time in nature.
  • Accountability Partner – Next time you discuss your plans with others, ask them to hold you accountable for working toward those goals! This can add more motivation to make progress (because you don’t want to only have excuses about why you haven’t taken action!).

Following through on the goals you set may require stepping out of your comfort zone, but the more action you take, the easier it will likely be to take more action.  

Imagine what it’s going to feel like when you turn your daydreams into a reality!  

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