You know that nagging little voice in the back of your mind? It’s the one that is whispering, “What about that project you’ve been putting off?” as you press “next episode” on Tiger King.
We all have personal goals, dreams, and projects we say we’re gonna do, but never seem to get around to. We come up with a million excuses to put off the work, saying we’ll do it tomorrow. Meanwhile, months or even years fly by, getting us no closer to our dream. Usually, our excuse is that we don’t have the time.
Well, this is your moment: no more excuses. Whether you’re writing a book, developing a brand idea, designing a website, learning a new skill, creating a new creative capacity, or taking an online course for certification, now is the time to finally put in the work and make your goals a reality. It’s not too late to find your passion project and turn it into reality.
At this point, you already know the hard part: motivation. After nearly two months of being homebound, unproductive habits may already be in place. To help you get into the right mindset, follow these steps so you can start crushing your goals.
Take some time to mine your interior life for insight about what you truly want. Give yourself time to reflect on what longings you have in your heart, and where they are coming from. What lights you up? What skill or creative endeavor has been burning in your heart? What gets you excited? What have you always wanted to try?
The second step is to ponder what it is about this dream, goal, or project that is so important to you. What do you have to lose? If you try something and fail, you’ll be in the same place you are now, so allow yourself to dream big and get excited about what the future could bring.
Create your timeline, step by step
Once you have a goal in mind, attach it to a timeline. Otherwise, it could just remain a desire — allocating time to the goal will mean that you’ll give energy to it in a specific time and place, and you’ll also have a deadline to shoot for.
A timeline helps you to be realistic about your goals, and it is a way to keep yourself accountable. It’s important to be realistic about your timeline because premature discouragement will kill your motivation. It’s all about making progress — even if it comes in baby steps. Don’t jump into your project with the goal of completing it in an unrealistically short period of time. Process is more important than product, so consistent attention to the goal every day will add up over time.
Think practically about all the elements that are necessary for your project’s completion. What steps are required? How long will each step take? Roughly how many days/weeks/months will each step take? Write down your plan so you’re aware of the necessary time commitment. This will guard against frustration if one step takes longer than expected or if challenges crop up. Keeping a step-by-step timeline will also help keep you accountable. Time won’t fly by unnoticed if you set concrete milestones during your project’s process.
Set up your work space
Environment plays a big role in your mindset. Creating a specific set-up for your project will help you get into a productive mindset. If you’ve been watching TV in bed or on the couch, your brain might already associate that space as an unproductive zone. Try creating a more structured, intentional space for your work. Ask yourself where you are most productive in your house. If it’s at the kitchen table, in an armchair, or desk, make that space distinctively your work zone. Add any objects that help you want to work there, whether it’s a vase with flowers, a steaming mug of tea, a blanket, or a candle. This positive work environment will not only kick your productivity into gear, but it’ll make you excited to spend time there working every day.
Wake up early
Now, this one is tough because we no longer have to wake up and rush to the office. Sleeping in can be beneficial, but waking up too late is a productivity killer. When we feel like half of the day is already gone, it’s easier to put work off for the next day, which can result in a cycle of sleeping late and postponing. So set that alarm early and force yourself out of bed! Make it easier on yourself by limiting screen time the night before so you get to sleep earlier. Pro tip: stock up on your favorite coffee blend and creamer so you look forward to waking up.
Be mindful of wasted time
Sometimes, consuming the right kind of content can move mountains within us, motivating us to get working. Whether it’s articles from your favorite digital publications, self-help books, podcasts from motivational speakers, inspirational quotes, or Instagram influencers who always have the right words, starting your day with an encounter with inspiration can set you on fire and focus the mind.
At the same time, though, there’s also content that distracts us from our goals. Enjoying mindless content can be a coping mechanism during stressful times.
As with all things, moderation is key. It’s easy to lose countless hours to apps like TikTok and Instagram. It feels good to be distracted in the moment, but at the end of the day, it never feels good to waste time. Remember that every hour spent on Netflix or on social media is an hour lost in reaching your goal. If you continuously choose working on your goals over social media, you’ll grow in self-control every day, helping you get to the finish line even faster.
The time is now
If you were looking for a sign to start working toward your goal, this is it. The idea that’s been burning inside you is there for a reason, and there’s no better time to explore it than right now — this very instant. The moment you take your first step in making your desire real, you’ll start to feel a buried seed starting to sprout and take root. Cultivate it every day and soon something beautiful will bloom.
Now, close this window and start up your project! You got this.