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Mindful motivation: achieving your goals

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Being mindful about what is happening now can help you to accomplish your ambitions

Do you have an idea of the goals that you want to achieve? It may be improving a skill that you’re lacking in, aiming for a promotion or losing weight. Whatever it is, you need clear aims and a focus; you need to identify your goal.

Working towards a goal is not easy; you need willpower, discipline and self-control. This all sounds daunting but, when you apply mindfulness, it becomes a lot easier.

Remember, you are never in the past or future; you are only in the present. So you might wonder, why have goals for the future if you only live in the present moment? The answer is that the planning and building towards a goal is something you do in the present. You plan for the future, but live in the present.

Tips for setting and achieving your goals

● Start each goal with a positive statement By setting a negative goal, such as “stop eating junk”, your mind focuses on the negative words, which is self-defeating and leads to failure. Think “I want to be more healthy”
● Break down your goal Separate your goal into smaller, manageable steps to stay motivated. If you want to run a marathon, don’t try and run 26 miles; try and run 2km more every day
● Record your achievements Note down what you have achieved, large or small; reading back over them will boost your motivation and help you find room for improvement
● Manage setbacks Keep in mind that setbacks can happen and don’t get discouraged. Bring yourself back to the present by identifying what you’ve learnt and how to improve. If you’re scared of failure, do it anyway
● Remain flexible Be prepared to adapt your thinking and goals. Becoming overly attached to a goal can hinder rather than help

You may be worried about the time it takes to achieve your goals. For longer-term goals, the emphasis should be not on where you will arrive at but the experiences you get along the way. The emphasis should be on the experience more than the results.

Another issue you may encounter is willpower. Doesn’t everybody wish that they had more willpower?

Research shows willpower can be strengthened and increased just like muscle strength through “exercises”. Set small daily goals that you would often avoid doing and get them done no matter what. By tackling the small tasks, you can develop the ability to take on bigger challenges.

It’s easy to miss that the large part of the reward is the journey. See if you can focus your energy on the process and the steps you take rather than the goal itself to really feel the benefits.

● This article is adapted from Mindfulness: Be Mindful. Live in the Moment by Gill Hasson (Capstone, £10.99).


Gill Hasson is a teacher who believes it is possible to achieve what you want in life.

She works at Sussex University, teaching community, career and personal development. Her company, Making Sense, delivers workshops. See

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