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How Staying in the Present Will Keep You Motivated

Focusing on small daily goals will ultimately lead you to achieving your long-term goals.

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By tomertu
By tomertu

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Setting long-term goals is great. The only way to get to where you want to be in life is to set a massive goal and then do everything in your power to hit that goal. But what I’ve found derails people from their goals more than anything else is putting too much attention towards the long term. Worrying about the future, being concerned about not being on pace to hit your long-term goal, and straying from the day to day work necessary to hit your goals are all things that can deter even the hardest working people from staying on track.

Once you have your sights set on something you want to accomplish months or even years down the line, shift your focus away from that goal. Obviously, it is crucial to keep that goal written down so you can be reminded of it, but it is paramount to shift your attention towards the day to day micro-goals you need to accomplish to make any progress towards the long term. By having a routine in place where you are able to create daily momentum, you will ensure that you won’t feel burnt out or defeated after only a few short weeks. In creating small daily victories, your confidence will continue to build up and you’ll have a daily sense of accomplishment that will fuel you in the long haul. 

Setting day to day goals is extremely simple. Just choose three to five things that you need to get done on a daily basis that will put you one step closer to crushing that long-term goal you have written on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. They do not have to be hard tasks either, just things that you set time aside to daily to get done. For example, if you want a 4.0 GPA for a semester, have a daily goal of going over vocab terms 30 minutes daily versus getting a 100 on the weekly quiz. Focus on the inputs, in this case reviewing vocab, versus the outputs. By focusing heavily on the inputs to the process, the outputs are sure to follow suit!

I have found that being held accountable for the daily goals are huge. While I am pretty adept at holding myself accountable most days, having someone else hold me accountable has proven to be key in ensuring I get done what I need to get done. Choose a partner to set three daily goals with and hold each other accountable each day. Not only would you be letting yourself down, but you’d be letting someone you’re close with down, too. To anyone deciding to take action on this, I know that you will crush it and your long-term goal will stand no chance!

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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