How To Achieve A Huge Goal If You're Over 40

<b class="credit">LatinContent/Getty Images</b> Diana Nyad
LatinContent/Getty Images Diana Nyad

In the wake of the news about 64-year old swimmer Diana Nyad who successfully swam more than 100 miles from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark tank or flippers, perhaps you have paused to think about your own big goals. Nyad achieved her dream that was 35 years and four previous attempts in the making. When she reached land in Florida, she said, "Never, ever give up...You're never too old to chase your dreams."

Whether you are old or young, the overwhelm of achieving a big goal can thwart your efforts and even prevent you from accomplishing your plans. For some people, just the thought of a big goal is enough to send them rushing the other way. It could make you happier to check off some big items on your "to do" list. How can you get started?

Structure your project into steps

Make sure you understand exactly what you need to do and what steps you need to take to finish. Review your assignments and goals. Create a list of everything you need to do. Make sure you have a complete picture of the tasks and create a time frame for each step. Break down the project into natural segments. Prioritize the segments and think about how much time each piece will take to complete.

When you think of your goal as being comprised of many steps instead of one, huge feat, it may be much easier to motivate yourself to get started. "Rome wasn't built in a day," and you won't accomplish a huge goal in a day, either.

Create a Deadline

Most of us will never finish a project without setting a deadline. However, make sure your deadline is realistic, or you're only setting yourself up to be disappointed. If you know you're planning your sister's baby shower and have a huge project at work coming up in the same month, don't add another deadline to your "to do" list.

On the other hand, keep in mind another time worn adage, "There's no time like the present." Most people have busy lives and there may never be a "perfect" time to get started on a huge task. The difference between accomplishing your goal and not is sometimes that very first step. Don't fool yourself into believing you can never move ahead, or you will stay in one spot forever.

Tap into Your Natural Habits

If you like to check a lot of things off a list, front load your project with a lot of small steps first. Perhaps it will motivate you to include some fun or simple tasks right away. If you know you'll feel more accomplished and motivated if you overcome a difficult hurdle early on, go for it and bask in your success once that step is finished. Recognize and allow yourself to go with your own flow and do what's right for you.

Seek An Accountability Partner

For some, it makes sense to hire a coach to keep focused. (This is why so many people rely on fitness trainers -- to keep them motivated and on track.) For others, a good friend or colleague can fill the role of accountability coach. Make sure the partner understands exactly what you are trying to do and is willing to touch base and keep you on track.

Leverage your Network

You don't have to do this huge task alone. Look around you and see who might be able to provide some support, advice or other assistance. Whether you need information, an introduction, someone to read and critique your writing or just a new set of eyes on your project, you're bound to have someone in your network who could help. Offer your help in return, and a partnership may be born.

Don't Give Up

It sounds obvious, but you'll never accomplish a goal if you give up. Hopefully, your goal won't take you 35 years to achieve, as was the case for Nyad, but even so, the taste of victory is even sweeter if you've trudged through a lot to get there.

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