How to Stick to Your Goals: The 2 Qualities You Need

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Goals!" by Brian Tracy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you struggle to stick to your goals? How do you keep pushing after the initial motivation wears off?

With a clear goal and a solid plan in the execution phase, all that’s left to do is to keep moving forward. However, it’s more easily said than done. Many people struggle to stick to their goals with proper consistency.

Here’s how to stick to your goals—no matter what challenges come your way.

Keep Going Toward Your Goals

In his book Goals!, Brian Tracy gives advice on how to stick to your goals, no matter the obstacles. Tracy says that there are two qualities that you need to develop so that you can face the challenges you encounter: courage and persistence.

Courage

Tracy writes that you need courage to face what is likely your biggest challenge: fear. Being afraid of failure and rejection can make you indecisive and paralyze you. He suggests four methods to overcome the fears that are holding you back:

1) Increase Your Knowledge 

Tracy claims that gaining more information and experience in the areas you’re afraid of can give you more confidence. He believes that the more you know, the more confident you’ll become. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money because you don’t know much about investing, read books, attend seminars, and talk to experts so that you can build up the courage to take informed risks. (Shortform note: Interestingly, Tracy’s claim that more information makes you more confident is at odds with the well-known Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that people who know the least about a subject are the most confident in their knowledge about it.)

2) Get Some Rest 

Tracy says that being sick or tired can affect your attitude. Working on your fitness, getting a good night’s sleep, or going on vacation can recharge you and make you feel more ready to take on challenges. (Shortform note: If you don’t have the luxury of being able to go on vacation, rest more, or spend time getting fit, try meditation. A few minutes of daily practice can reset your mind and reduce fear and stress. Learn the basics of meditation in our full guide to Mindfulness in Plain English.)

3) Confront Your Fears 

Tracy says you should list all of your fears in order of magnitude. Then, analyze how each fear hurts you and helps you, and how you can benefit from overcoming it. For example, a fear of rejection may hurt you by keeping you from getting to know a potential romantic partner and help you by pushing you to nurture existing friendships. Overcoming this fear of rejection can help you find someone who can share your struggles, celebrate your successes, and build a family with you. (Shortform note: If you’re struggling to face your fears, use positive peer pressure to help you. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and go after what you want. For example, if you’re very shy and afraid of socializing, you might commit to spending more time with your most extroverted friends.) 

4) Take the First Step 

Tracy says that the steps above won’t get you anywhere if you don’t take action. Don’t wait until conditions are perfect before you start anything—opportunities will open up to you as long as you start moving. (Shortform note: Take care not to mistake motion for action. In Atomic Habits, author James Clear defines motion as the planning phase, and he warns that it can work against you by giving you the illusion that you’re making progress. On the other hand, action is the actual performance of steps that move you closer to your goals.)  

Persistence

While courage can help you start reaching for your goals, persistence will keep you going despite the obstacles. Tracy repeatedly says that challenges are inevitable, and even the most successful people have had their fair share of setbacks. The reason they’re successful isn’t their luck or exceptional talent but their ability to endure despite difficulties and to learn and grow from adversity.

(Shortform note: To become a person who can keep going no matter what, adopt a growth mindset—believe that your talents and traits are changeable and that you have the capacity to improve and rise to the challenges you face. To shift to this mindset, author Angela Duckworth writes that you might have to unlearn the beliefs that shaped you, such as negative feedback that you received as a child. Read more in our full guide to Grit.)

How to Stick to Your Goals: The 2 Qualities You Need

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  • Brian Tracy's steps to setting and reaching your goals
  • How to approach your goals with the right mentality
  • Why persistence is more important than courage

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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