How to Stay Motivated When You Don’t See Immediate Results

photography of book page

What motivates each of us is different. So, it’s important to understand what motivates you so that you can set goals that keep you moving forward toward your destination. Some people want to be wealthy and focus on maximizing profit margins. Others want to fall in love with what they do and those that share in life’s journey with them, no matter what their bank balance might be. Some of us consistently find ourselves overwhelmed, unsure what steps to take next. If you’re setting goals and not seeing results, here are 10 tips to stay motivated even when you don’t see immediate results.

Remember why you’re working hard towards your goals in the first place

The first step in staying motivated is setting goals that are meaningful and important to you. That motivation helps keep you going when the going gets tough. If your goals are something you only sort of care about, it’s easy for your motivation to flag as the process starts getting hard. So, find a reason why working towards your goal is meaningful for you, and then keep that in mind as things get difficult. Remembering why you’re working towards something can help stave off that mid-project slump!

Genius is eternal patience, says Michelangelo

Just because you’re not seeing results doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong thing or that your goals are unattainable. Sometimes, it just takes time to reach your goals. In the meantime, you may have to deal with self-doubt and disappointment. These feelings are natural to have, but you have to recognize them as a need to refocus yourself, not as excuses to give up. When you stay motivated even when you don’t see immediate results, you can get through those tough times and maintain your excitement about your ultimate achievement of success. 

Focus on the long term outcome of your goals

It’s easy to lose sight of long-term goals when you don’t see immediate results. But, if you focus on other people who are doing what you want to do and whose lives seem better as a result, it can help put things in perspective. If you start thinking about how hard it is for someone else who is trying just as hard as you, sometimes that’s enough to keep going. Even if it feels like all your efforts are for nothing now, remember that every step toward your goal makes success more likely—and also helps you become a more capable person down the road.

Break your plans down into smaller goals

The biggest mistake most people make is setting vague, unattainable goals. Try setting specific, achievable weekly or monthly goals for yourself that build on one another. For example, if you’re trying to write a book, have a goal to write at least one chapter per week. This gives you something tangible and reachable (one chapter) as opposed to an amorphous long-term goal (an entire book). Accomplishing your goals, no matter how small, is a great way to stay motivated not only during the starting moments, but throughout the writing process. Plus, it will keep you from falling into that all-too-common pitfall: quitting too soon because things aren’t happening fast enough.

Set reminders to make progress on your goals every day

Reminders to make progress on your goals are a great way to stay motivated. There are many reminder tools on both smart phones and computers allowing you to create a to-do checklist to keep tabs on your daily progress on your goals. This includes commonly used apps like Google Calendar. Some of these reminders might involve tasks that take less than five minutes, while others may take an hour or more; it all depends on how far along you are with reaching each goal. 

Reevaluate and adjust goals as necessary

If you’re not seeing results right away, remember sometimes it just takes a little while for little changes over time to kick in. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly reevaluate your goals and adjust them accordingly, as needed. It’s also important to be flexible! Your goals may change along with your ability, so be sure to adjust them as you go along. This can help keep motivation levels high when progress is slow or if things are changing quickly (for better or worse). If there’s something you just don’t have time for today, don’t stress! The important thing is setting aside time every day to make progress on your goals, even if you only spend five minutes on them. Incremental gains add up quickly. Otherwise, you may find yourself doing nothing at all some days, getting you nowhere and out of good goal-setting habits.

Tell others about your goals, and hold yourself accountable

People who hold themselves accountable for their goals are more than twice as likely to be successful in achieving them. Tell at least one person about your goal or ambition each day.  In addition to accountability, telling others also helps you identify allies. We tend to overestimate how much help we’ll get from others but underestimate how much we can help them. If you can bring even one other person along with you on your journey, you’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of along the way and someone to celebrate with when you succeed!

Reward yourself after reaching goal milestones

If you want to stay motivated, it’s important that you reward yourself after reaching milestones related to your goals. This will not only motivate you in reaching your goals faster, but it’ll also make your journey to reaching them more enjoyable. The best way to reward yourself is setting aside time for something you enjoy doing that also takes care of your body and mind. After all, we all need recreation. It could be a simple reward such as eating a special meal out, an hour-long bath, or some other luxury you’ve been craving but putting off. Delayed gratification is sometimes the most constructive reward possible, and the more restful your reward is, the better. 

Realize that everybody fails sometimes

If you’re not failing, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Don’t be afraid of failure. Instead, consider it a learning experience and a part of growth. Everybody fails sometimes; just because things don’t go your way doesn’t mean that they won’t work out in future attempts—just remember to learn from your failures and keep going! Also, failure isn’t an excuse to stop challenging yourself. Whenever you’re struggling to keep up with your goals, keep this other famous quote from Michelangelo in mind: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

Strive for perfection, even if you fall short

At a certain point, your goal will shift from practicing for perfection to simply practicing. You’ll learn that making mistakes is not only normal, but necessary on your path toward mastery. The sooner you can accept imperfection, the better you’ll be at recognizing problems when they arise and adapting quickly. This openness is what separates experts from novices: Experts actively seek out opportunities for feedback, while novices avoid them out of fear of criticism. Even if you fall short of perfection, like playing a musical instrument or making an artistic statement, strive for it in practice; eventually, it will happen in performance.

~ Amelia Desertsong

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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