When we set out on a journey to reach a new goal, we often do so with gusto. We’re extremely motivated in the beginning because everything feels fresh. It doesn’t take too long, however, before the enthusiasm wanes and real life sets in. It’s the reason we stick closely to our diets in January, but by March or April, we’re back to our old habits. If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately, you’re not alone.

Studies reveal that a staggering 92% of people ultimately fall short of achieving the goals they set for themselves. To reach the coveted position of success that the remaining 8% achieved, you have to be willing to push through the murk, even when it feels impossible to do so. Today, let’s take a look at three ways to reclaim that motivation and push forward toward our end goal.

1. Discover the value of optimism.

This one might seem incredibly simple, but don't be deceived. Faking a smile throughout the day isn’t the same as feeling genuinely happy and having an optimistic outlook. You’re more likely to neglect your goals when you’re feeling down, so to turn those odds around requires a shift in your perspective.

Have you noticed that when you’re in a bad mood, you feel completely uninspired to make a positive change? That’s because procrastination is a self-soothing technique that we revert back to when we need a mental break, knowing full well that it will only set us back and make us more depressed in the end. On the other hand, research reveals that happiness can give us a productivity boost and help us reach our goals quicker.

Did you know that in the Army, recruits are toughened up both physically and mentally? To get them ready to face the difficulties of combat, leaders instruct them on the virtues of optimism. Yet, simply talking about it is one thing. How can you really instill a positive outlook if you’re just not feeling it? The answer might be simpler than you think: Focus on every step of progress.

It’s in our nature to love success. Yet, if you wait until you reach a gigantic milestone to celebrate, you might feel defeated at many times along the way. Instead, celebrate every victory earned, no matter how small. Gradually, you’ll begin to adopt a more optimistic outlook as you seek out the good.

2. Set some rewards and incentives.

Now that you’ve discovered how to find your victories, the next step is to reward yourself. At their very core, rewards make us feel good while their opposite, penalties, make us feel bad. So when seeking to build a lifestyle of optimism, focus on the positives. Instead of punishing yourself for not meeting that deadline, celebrate the fact that you got the project started and are making solid progress.

Studies show that rewards are the incentives behind the reason that 75% of people get things done. If you know that a vacation, a nap, or even a five-minute coffee break, are waiting around the bend once you get that to-do list done, you’re more willing to push through and accomplish it.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Isn’t this how you train a dog?” The answer is “yes” and it also works on people, too, because the logic is that simple. If you’re having trouble coming up with an incentive in your price range that’s awesome enough to keep you on track, experts recommend creating what’s known as a commitment mechanism instead.

The way it works is straightforward: Give your friend $100 cash of your own money, with the promise to complete your task by a set deadline (say, 4:00 p.m.). If you fail to get the job done, your friend keeps the cash. If not, you get it back. Seeing as we’re often motivated by money, odds are high that you’ll put in the work to meet the deadline.

3. Seek out accountability.

The commitment mechanism detailed above touches on our next means of motivation. It’s important to find someone or a team of people who know about your goals, understand them, and are dedicated to helping you meet them. This might be a friend or family member, or it could even be a professional coach. If you opt for the latter, make sure the expert you enlist possesses the skills required to motivate you toward success. Go for an interview with the coach beforehand to make sure you jive and are comfortable sharing the details of your goals with him or her. Doing so will set the foundation for a successful working relationship.

Now that you’ve got that accountability established, start surrounding yourself with people who have achieved the level of success that you’re seeking. For example, if your end goal is to become a professional musician, it’s time to start befriending and learning from those who are already playing the music scene. Find someone who can become a mentor and show you the ropes, so as you seek to emulate them, you’re also gaining valuable, lifelong knowledge along the way. Research reveals that as you befriend someone, you develop the habits (even down to the eating habits) that they portray. As such, to find success, keep company with those whose habits are healthy and who set high goals for themselves. That could be just the push you need to take your own dreams just as seriously.

Realizing Your Dream, One Step at a Time

Ultimately, reaching your goals is a personal pursuit. You’re the only one who can put pen to paper and complete the tasks required to propel you forward. Yet, along the way, you may encounter roadblocks of differing shapes and degrees of difficulty. From the itch to procrastinate to a sense of uncertainty about your passion, these challenges offer a valuable opportunity to reassess your lifestyle, make smarter choices, and take those steps, however small, required to lead you down the path you want to go.

Author's Bio: 

Courtney Myers is a work-from-home mother of two. After more than 10 years in the corporate world, she's devoted to helping professionals find success, motivation, and optimism as they pursue their goals both inside and outside of the workplace.