6 Ways to Achieve Goals Faster

a productivity mindset when you don't feel like it

How do you achieve goals faster and avoid getting derailed?

If you find yourself getting derailed from productivity, or your goals when the motivation is gone, keep reading.

Or, if you’d rather watch this content as a video, I’ve recorded it here.

This can be applied to anything that needs to get done: work, relationships, fitness, education, you name it.

If you allow me, I’ll give an illustration from my own life. It pertains to my fitness journey.

I took up running when I was in my 20s. Though I still had that youthful metabolism, I’d seen that I was not immune to the “freshman 15” with a reckless diet. Since I still looked “pretty good*” I thought, and I had learned that the weight I gained from a period of excess junk food consumption could be easily burned with a short period of intense discipline.

*In retrospect, I look back at pictures of myself in my 20s and can’t believe I thought I needed to lose weight. But I digress.

Don’t lean on talent or luck

In those days, with the smugness of a good metabolism, the motivation to exercise wasn’t inherent. I needed people to run with me, or I wouldn’t go.

  • I’d gather friends from the college dorm to go running with me after work (going for a run at 10 pm would never happen now!)
  • After college, I’d rally friends to go running on the track or neighborhood streets

In 2007 I caught the footrace bug as a group of friends signed up for the Shamrock Run. From that point, training for the next race was the motivation. But I still needed the accountability to train.

Fast forward to my late 30s/early 40s. With age, wisdom, and the sad realization that my ability to lose weight quickly was gone, to be replaced with an ability to pack on pounds faster than ever before, things changed.

I suddenly found intrinsic motivation to strap on my shoes and run. Because I knew I needed to.

Also, getting married to a man who was willing to run, but preferred to run in the evenings vs. my love of morning runs, left me without a built-in partner.

The problem: a need to work out to stay fit.
The solution: let’s get into it!

How do you achieve goals when you don’t feel like it?

I’m glad you asked.

Through a continual quest to optimize my productivity, I’d read a lot about the subject, given it a lot of thought, and tested different ideas.

Here are six things I use as guiding principles in my endless quest.

  1. Don’t skip twice. Thanks, James Clear & “Atomic Habits” for that one.
    We’re all going to miss a day once in a while. Skipped workout, a day without flossing or doing planks or working on that great American novel. Miss one day? Make sure not to miss two days in a row.
  2. Nike was right.
    “Just do it.” So painfully simple. It often comes down to gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to just do it. You know, and I know, that you’ll be glad you did.
  3. Keep the streak alive.
    There’s something powerful about stacking up days in a row of working on your goals. When you are consistent over time, results start to come. I’ve heard tremendous stories from people who set out to do something and kept it going for hundreds, if not thousands, of days.
  4. Strive for discipline, not motivation.
    Motivation comes in and out of focus. It vanishes like a fake friend when you tell her you don’t have money to go out. Rather than wait for motivation, apply #2. Then do it again. And again.
  5. Kill the all-or-nothing mindset.
    It’s tempting to get gung-ho and go all in on an unrealistic way of thinking.”If I can’t run five miles, I’m not going to run at all.”
    “I don’t think I can beat my record pace today, so I’ll skip.”
    “I’m going to quit drinking alcohol altogether.”
    “If I don’t get that promotion, my life is meaningless.”
    “I can’t lose 30 pounds before the end of the year. So I’m not going to try.”Instead, recognize that some effort is better than none. If you don’t have time to run five miles, run two or three. Get out there at whatever pace you can. Personal record days are built on the back of dozens of average days. If you can’t lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, maybe you can lose four. All the sudden, you are 13% to your goal! Keep going!
    6. Grace + commitment > Failure + slipping into despair
    The key here is being committed to your goal.

“I’m going to get this accomplished, no matter how many setbacks I endure,
and how long it takes.”

Once you’re committed, be ready to show yourself grace for those inevitable setbacks.

It’s as simple as it sounds. Simple, but not easy. We all have “those days” when it isn’t in the cards:

    • You slept poorly
    • You don’t feel well
    • Your accountability partner bailed on you
    • You have an injury
    • Your schedule got too packed

When those things happen, don’t beat yourself up. Remember your commitment and get back to it as soon as possible (like, tomorrow, per #1).

This adaptable mindset will keep you from getting derailed with anguish when you slip up.


Considering productivity and goal-setting is a multi-billion dollar industry, there is a lot more than has been and could be said about the subject. This is a collection of some of the best things I’ve gathered as I’ve studied it.

What have you found helps with your goal-setting? I’d be glad to know in a comment below! Thank you for reading. I appreciate you!

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updated 8-14-23

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