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March 17, 2015

What Helps you Stick to Your Goals?

Caroline Smith

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I often challenge myself to go without something I enjoy for a period of time. At the moment, I’ve given up chocolate, and my goal is to go six weeks without eating any. In my opinion, six weeks is long enough to test my will power, but not too long for it to feel insurmountable!

Although, if I’m being totally honest, I was actually supposed to be giving up candy, cakes and potato chips as well, but I failed spectacularly on that front.

This is because on the first day of my fast, it was a colleague’s birthday. Several people in the office had baked some amazing cakes and so it felt a bit rude of me not try a bit. So I had a small, little tiny slice of lemon meringue pie, and told myself, “Tomorrow. I’ll start properly tomorrow.”

But then, at the weekend, I went round to a new friend’s house for dinner, and she had made cheesecake for dessert. And, again, the resolution went out the window. I thought, "I can’t turn this down – I don’t know her very well and she might think I’m faddy and unappreciative." (And, to be completely frank, it was cheesecake - my favorite.) So I dug in, and only felt (slightly) guilty after I’d finished my second helping...

Soon enough, the only thing I hadn’t eaten from my self-imposed blacklist was chocolate, so I changed the parameters of my challenge accordingly. And so far, a month in, I’ve managed to stick to it. (Although as I’m not the biggest chocolate eater in the world, it hasn’t been that difficult!)

The question "What helps you stick to your goals?" was recently the subject of a #mindtoolstips post on social media. And as always, we got some great responses so thanks very much for your contributions!

What was interesting was the number of you who use technology to help you keep on track with your personal challenges. Several people said that their goal this year was to get fitter and healthier in mind and body. @MeganDaic uses Fit Brains – this is tool that uses online games to help increase your brain capacity and improve your well being. And on a similar front, @martink71636349 advocates the MapMyWalk app, which encourages you keep on top of your regular exercise routine by tracking your progress.

Another common theme was that people want to get more organized and achieve more in their days. On Facebook, Dumitru Daniel is trying to reach his goal of working more effectively. He uses ColorNote for PC, an app designed to simplify your life by categorizing your To-Do List in different colors, and by sending you reminders. He also finds KeyNote a useful app to simplify presentations, and Treepad, a personal information manager that organizes your notes.

@jonesloflin uses an app called Day One to keep up regular journaling. I’d never heard of this before, but you can log and record various events and milestones in one place, and it lets you integrate photos, your current location, and weather data into your journal entries. I’ve been looking for a diary app some some time now, so I’m going to give this a go!

@ShapeShift_Club is focusing on being more productive, and is using the Pomodoro Technique®. This technique divides your work into 25-minute sessions to help you focus on the task at hand. After each session, you take a five-minute break. @ShapeShift_Club is also finding the note-taking app Evernote useful. You can capture and store simple text notes, as well as things like photos of slides and handwritten notes, PDFs, web pages, and voice reminders, all in one place.

Thanks to everyone who gave us their suggestions – you’ve inspired me to find an app to keep me on track with my next personal challenge. If you've found a method that helps you stick to your goals, please share with others and join in the discussion below!

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