(For optimal experience, listen to “Eye of the Tiger” while reading this post).

"That rhymed. Unintentional" Hot Rod, 2007

“That rhymed. Unintentional” Hot Rod, 2007

Setting goals for yourself is awesome, and reaching them is one of the most rewarding experiences of all time. But what about that middle part? The part with all the hard work, the blood, sweat, and tears? It’s the part that can make or break a goal. Only 1 out of every 8 people who make New Years resolutions actually keep them, and that seems like a sad statistic. For instance, last year I spontaneously decided to run my first marathon. Although the goal was met, it took a lot out of me, and I pretty much never wanted to run again. I left the experience thinking, “That wasn’t even worth it.

Hard work is required to reach your goal (whatever it may be). But, it doesn’t need to be an excruciating process. Here are five things to keep in mind that will hopefully keep you from burning out or abandoning ship:

Check Yourself: Ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this?” Is it a lifelong goal? A matter of pushing your limits, an opportunity for growth? Are you trying to impress someone? Personally, I’m more likely to reach a goal if I’m doing it for me. Don’t get me wrong, having a support system and outside motivation helps exponentially. Unfortunately, my support system can’t hover around in the morning when I’m having a hard time extracting myself from a warm-ish bed to run through whatever Mother Nature decided to dish out for the day. I remind myself, “Hey, I could just stay right here. No one is making me go for a run.” And, it’s that thought that propels me out the door.

Look Up: While taking it one day at a time has its benefits, if you keep your head down and barrel through one day after another, you may lose sight of a few things. Your thinking may become more geared toward short-term results for a long-term goal. This article from The Simple Dollar discusses how this phenomenon manifests in terms of financial goals. You probably won’t notice the small changes that happen day by day. Remember to look up once in awhile, just for a dose of perspective. You may be surprised at how far you’ve come.

Realistic Goals in Reasonable Time Frames: I tend to set arbitrary goals for myself that involve going from 0 to 60 in 0.2 seconds. This equals setting myself up for failure. Deciding on a whim that tomorrow, I will bench 300 pounds, will only result in disappointment and probably some sort of horrific injury (especially since I only work my glamour muscles). This tragic hypothetical experience will prevent me from ever wanting to lift again. When you’re mapping out a goal, keep it real. It will look different for some people. For instance, I would be delusional if I made a goal to become a billionaire by 2015. However, this may be in the realm of possibility for you. And if so, we should be friends.

Encourage Others: Karma is a real thing. You get what you put in.  Offer your help, support and good vibes to others, and most importantly, mean it. If you aren’t genuine…it doesn’t count. When you take the time to do this, it feels good, and it may actually help boost your own chance at success.Plus, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all just spinning on a rock around a huge ball of fire and no one knows what tomorrow will bring. We might as well help each other out.

Chill Out: No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, sometimes you may need to take a step back. Hey, we all need a break once in awhile. If you find yourself overdoing or overthinking, it’s time to chill for a bit. Focus on something else for a while, or reflect and maybe tweak your plan. When you come back to it, you can hit the ground running. While upsetting, my six month hiatus from running last year was probably necessary. Something I formerly enjoyed warped into a source of frustration and resentment. Running and I found ourselves in a passionless relationship, and secretly wanted to smother the other with a pillow in the middle of the night. After a break, I had a new attitude. I started approaching running, and everything else in my life, with ideas covered in this post. So far, so good.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way- so, just keep that will alive. Whatever your dream, don’t stop believin’. (Yeah, that’s right. I went there).