User Post: 5 Ways to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Goals

I read somewhere that it takes three weeks to form a habit and that most people quit on their goals in the third or fourth week. If you're anything like me you know that this is unfortunately more than a little bit true at times. It would take all my fingers, toes and probably shoes to count how many times in the past I have set out to accomplish something and then after a few weeks got bored, procrastinated or just moved on to something else conveniently convinced that whatever it was that I was going so hard for all of a sudden wasn't actually that important.

I am happy to say however that thus far this year, I have turned a complete 180 in terms of staying motivated to follow through even on the days I just wasn't feeling it. I would like to share a few of the techniques that have helped me move from talking the talk to walking the walk and sticking to my goals in 2011.

1. Write it down and back step it

If your goal is to lose 20 lbs in 60 days, set an actual goal date and write it down. Work backwards from that date to figure out how much weight you need to have lost two weeks before that date in order to reach your goal. From there, work back to two weeks before that and so on. Backdate all the way to your starting date. This works wonders if you are setting big goals, because at first glance the work can seem a little overwhelming and make you want to quit before you start. Breaking it down this way gives you small, reasonable goals that ultimately make up the larger picture. Check in with this goal map as often as possible to track your progress.

2. Link up with other go getters

Don't underestimate the power of a like minded network. Friends or mentors who share your goals or are just all around motivated individuals can keep you on track on days when you feel like slacking off, and not doing the work. They can offer you encouraging words and success stories to help you realize that you CAN do it. Ask them to hold you accountable for the goals that you have set for yourself and let them know that you will do the same for them. On the other side of that and probably even more important-lose those negative folks who will not be excited in the least to see you changing your life. Trust me; those types will work harder than you to keep you in THEIR comfort zone.

3. Call yourself out and keep it real

Don't allow yourself to take procrastination lightly. When you reach a day where you just don't feel like doing what you know you should (I say when because trust me it will happen), don't offer yourself excuses. Take a long hard look in the mirror and tell yourself that if you slack of today you are jeopardizing your dream. Sure you may need a break or a day off from working on your goals, but if you're procrastinating be sure you call it what it is. Pushing yourself even when you don't want to separates successes from failures.

4. Prepare for setbacks

We all know that not everything happens the way we plan and it is okay to be frustrated when the unexpected occurs. I have found that one of the most important things to do to safeguard your success is to conduct what is called a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on your goals before embarking on them. This will help you to identify those potential setbacks including your own personal weaknesses that may threaten your motivation level on the road to success.

Set backs can be the biggest pain when you are on a roll, but if you mentally prepare for them, with a little creativity and determination you can still reach your destination.

5. Reward yourself

Don't wait until you reach the finish line to celebrate. Who wants to work their butt off with no recognition? I know I don't. Be your own cheerleader and congratulate yourself throughout the whole process. Acknowledge and reward your progress at every step. This will keep you encouraged and confident and help shake off those feelings of doubt that start to creep up whent the going gets tough. If weight loss is your goal, rewards do not necessarily have to mean indulgence. There are many ways to treat yourself and let yourself know that "you da man"…or woman without compromising your hard work.

Remeber that nothing good in this life comes easy and there will be days that you want to quit or you begin to doubt yourself. But the people who can get themselves back on track when they start to fall off are the ones who ultimately achieve the level of success they once sat down and dreamt about.

What are some ways that you keep it pushing when the excitement wears off?