Last updated on April 8th, 2019 at 11:04 am

In the era of the fast, the instant and the immediate, it can at times feel overwhelming trying to reach our goals in a realistic manner that also respects our personal aspirations. A friend of mine once told me that she would often write a list of things she wanted to get done and would then be so overwhelmed by the list that she wouldn’t be able to start on any of the items. It can be difficult to get motivated when we’re bombarded by images of Internet celebrities who seem to become millionaires overnight because of one hilarious YouTube video.

In addition to instant fame not being a motivating factor, it certainly isn’t realistic, nor does it relate to the average person. Overnight success is not the reality of most achievers. The truth of our adult lives is that we’re pulled in many different directions with many different responsibilities.

So how do we reach our goals and stay motivated in a superficial, materialistic and fast-paced world that values the self-made selfie millionaire?

Whether it’s learning a new language, changing careers, or improving our nutritional habits, the first step is in knowing that reaching goals takes time and that it can’t happen fast, despite what many current-day motivational speakers tell us. At a time when we can get coffee, meals, entertainment and almost anything else instantly, this can be a challenging perspective to embrace. Achieving goals while maintaining a healthy, balanced and holistic lifestyle isn’t easy.

Take time

Knowing that achieving goals takes time, dedication and patience is important, as is being honest about our aspirations. Our goals should be what we want, not what we think others expect of us. Aspirations that aren’t connected to what we desire for ourselves don’t have lasting motivators. Goals that hold personal meaning make the journey to reach them more rewarding than we could ever imagine.

Be realistic

Having dreams is important, but so is being realistic—making attainable goals helps. Larger projects should be broken down into smaller steps to be taken each day or each week. One of my favourite quotes is from Confucius: “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

Celebrate achievements

Celebrating all milestones is also crucial. Our personal milestones have value, however minor they may seem. It’s important to feel great about small achievements to stay motivated and keep going.

Look at the long-term benefits

It can be helpful to think about our goals in terms of long-term benefits. In 5 or 10 years how much may have grown and occurred because of these small, weekly or daily efforts?

Be creative

Another important factor in moving towards our goals is embracing creative problem-solving. Be willing to take alternative and unconventional routes when things don’t go as planned. This is important in maintaining the long-term momentum.

Once we’ve reached our desired goals it often leads to further aspirations and we end up adding more items to our list. The power of pursuing goals can be transformative and can help change the way we feel about our lives. The baby steps we take as we slowly and mindfully move towards our goals should be as joyful and satisfying as finally reaching our destination.

by Samara Carter
Image: Silhouette Man climbs into cliff to make the word GOAL setting concept via Shutterstock