Tech is full of goal setters. We set goals for tech stacks we want to master. We build side projects in our spare time to challenge ourselves and increase our skill levels. We love participating in challenges like #100DaysOfCode and Hacktoberfest.
We pick our goal, make a plan, and put in the effort, every day, to reach it.
But, if achieving our goals was that straightforward, we would all be super coding unicorns, all at our perfect weight and net worth.
So how do you stick to the plan when life gets in the way? When the kids acted up all day and the thought of doing your daily hour of code gives you a migraine. When you miss a few days and feel like it’s better to give up than try again. How do you keep going when a string of failures make you wonder why you’re even doing this to yourself?
Full disclosure: I struggle with this a lot. I have a nice pile of unfinished courses; I restarted my #100daysofcode loads of times, and sometimes I get completely overwhelmed with life and negative thoughts. Honestly, committing to writing these posts is a big part of my struggle, and something I never made myself do since university.
So here are some tips – for me and for everyone else who struggles with sticking with their goals.
1. Check your intentions
When you find yourself stuck in the mud, spinning your wheels, and completely unable to make progress with your goals, that’s a good time to pause and check if this is something you want to do. How does this goal fit in with your core values? Are you trying to block out time to study for certifications but personally value family time more than career success? Then you’ll have a hard time choosing to study instead of a fun family day out.
Spend some time thinking about your core values. You can try this 10-minute activity to get clear on what they are. Think about the kind of life that will make you happiest; journal about it in detail. Does your goal fit into all of this? Can you reframe the goal so that it aligns with your values? Instead of seeing those certifications as a way to get a promotion and make more money; think of how the lives of your family will improve once you pass.
Once you get clarity on why you’re working on this goal and how it fits in with your core values, you can settle into work with clear intentions.
2. Check the size of your goal.
How did you structure this goal when you first made it? Are you trying to learn all the things or do you have a specific roadmap in mind?
It’s good to have big crazy goals to inspire us and give our lives some direction. For our daily lives though, we need SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Building a killer app is a big goal. Building the backend of your app for an hour a day is a SMART goal.
For some inspiration, watch this old video of Will Smith telling a story about building a wall when he was a child.
Check the size of your goal. Are you trying to build the whole wall or are you going brick by brick?
3. Check your goal routine.
What is the routine you’re using to achieve your goal? Do you even have a routine? Do you try to do your work after relaxing with Netflix?
It’s not easy to start working from a place of rest. Inertia will keep you comfy on the couch instead of getting up to work. Make inertia work in your favour by combining your goal routine with something that’s already a deep habit.
If your salah is in good shape, saying that you’re going to code for an hour after maghrib is more likely to succeed than saying you’re going to code for an hour a day.
4. Check your support system.
Teamwork is so extremely powerful, and when you work on your goals by yourself for a long time, it’s easy to forget about asking for help. Having a group of people in your life who will call you out when you get off track is key to achieving your goals.
Don’t just use the group to broadcast yourself. Sincerely ask for help and support others. Check in with everyone regularly. It’s honestly amazing how much easier it is to stick with your goals with a strong positive group supporting you.
Psst…Looking for a great accountability group? Subscribe to the Tech Sisters Newsletter and get access to our private Slack workspace.
5. Check your connection to Allah SWT.
I saved the strongest tip for last. When we’re struggling with something, who better to turn to than al-Fattah (the Opener), al-Baasit (the Expander)? Experiencing difficulties and setbacks are Allah’s ways of bringing us closer to Him. We can’t forget that however focused we are on our tech goals, our ultimate goal is to return to our Creator. We can only truly succeed when we remember Him.
If you find yourself struggling with your goals or in life, try talking to Allah as your friend and unburden your heart to Him. Tell Him what you’re struggling with and ask for His help. Have complete confidence that He hears you and sees you and is always with you.
You can try this famous dua from the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad SAW:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ الْهَمِّ وَالْحُزْنِ وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْبُخْلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
‘O Allaah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men.’
Which of these tips resonated with you the most? What goals are you struggling with? Let’s help each other in the comments!