How to Stay Motivated About Achieving Your Long-Term Goals


“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes.” – John Ruskin

Your most important goals — becoming rich, famous, etc. — can take time to accomplish. Sometimes years and years. How do you stick with them? How do you avoid distractions? How do you keep yourself from losing interest?

There’s only one answer to all these questions: Learn to love the process.

The process is what you engage in while you are on your way. It consists of the steps you take on your journey. It includes the little breakthroughs, the small triumphs, and the pleasure of overcoming adversity.

I do that by breaking all my long-term goals into shorter-term objectives. I’ve broken down all my lifetime goals into five-year objectives, then into yearly, monthly, and weekly objectives, and finally into daily tasks.

Each completed effort is something I feel good about. Often, I reward myself with small psychological prizes. Usually, the reward is simply the gratification I feel when I scratch the task off my task list. Other times, I allow myself to brag about it. Sometimes, I reward myself with a monetary reward — a hundred dollars here, a thousand dollars there.

Let’s say you want to save a certain sum of money every month but find you don’t get any pleasure out of doing it. In that case, what you could do is pay yourself off each time you achieve that goal … perhaps with a small sum of “fun” money that you can spend any way you want to.

If, for example, your savings goal is $3,000 a month, you might give yourself a $100 bonus. The money might go to buy a nice dinner or to pay for some toy — almost anything, so long as it feels like an “extra.”

I like to give myself a cash bonus. There’s something tangible about a $20 bill that I am still very fond of. I usually spend that cash on expensive cigar lighters — which I see as completely frivolous but irresistibly pleasant.

Think about a long-term goal you might apply this idea to. Make deciding what the reward should be part of the enjoyment.

Hint: It’s sometimes fun to let someone else — a partner, your spouse, or even your assistant — award the bonus. That way, it feels more serendipitous.

If you still have difficulty motivating yourself, consider looking into ETR’s new “Goal-Setting Action Plan,” a self-teaching program that will give you specific, personalized advice.