How To Get Things Done: Goal-Directed Persistence


Is it common for you or someone you know to start a project or task, but quickly become unproductive when that task got boring or repetitive? Do you know somebody who can set goals, but has difficulty achieving them efficiently?

Goal-directed persistence is a necessity when a task becomes monotonous, is interrupted and when one needs to switch up strategies to reach the desired goal. It is the brain-based executive function that gives us the ability to set a reachable goal and work towards accomplishing it without getting side-tracked by other interests, distractions or inaction. It is also one of the last executive functions to mature for most people.


Lacking goal-directed persistence can hinder your ability to finish tasks and be a productive worker. You or someone you know may lack goal-directed persistence if you or they:

Exhibit a pattern of incomplete projects and tasks.

  • Set unreasonable goals.

  • Struggle to follow through on promises.

  • Are unable to delay gratification such as saving up money for the desired object—down payment on a home or a new drum set.

Here are some key strategies that you or someone you know can use to get things done:

Progress Tracking: Create a chart for yourself where you can track your progress towards a larger goal. Put a sticker or a check in the box every day after you complete a smaller portion of the more significant target. Seeing your progress in real time will motivate you to keep on working to accomplish the big goal you set out for yourself. 

Create Reminders: Surround yourself with constant reminders that will inspire you to accomplish your goals. Not only does this give you more accountability, but it also motivates you. Small things like writing that grade point average you have been shooting for on a post-it note and placing it on your mirror, or placing a picture of the home, car or drum set you are saving up for on your refrigerator. These small images will be frequent reminders of why you started working in the first place. They should serve as sources of instant motivation and should be set in areas where they will be easy to see.

Reward yourself: Plan small, incremental rewards that you can gift yourself after completing specific objectives. These prizes will inspire you to finish the task at hand and should motivate you to complete the next job.


Goal-directed persistence is a critical ability to have in work and school life, for children and adults. It’s not uncommon for many individuals to lack this skill, and they don't realize the impact on themselves and others around them.

Are you or somebody you know displaying signs that they struggle with goal-directed persistence? Dr. Clarence Perkins is an Executive Function and ADHD Coach who can help you reach your goals. Call or write for a free consultation

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