Social media gets a bad rap for being time suck, a source of FOMO and even a catalyst for depression. But spending time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social sites doesn’t need to be unproductive -- nor detrimental to your mental state. In fact, these websites can actually be used for your benefit as forums for goal setting and execution. “Social media helps one ‘show up’ for him/herself -- and his/her goal -- by providing an outlet to share deepest desires and connect with others,” says inspirational blogger and life coach Jamie Eslinger, founder of ThePromise365.com. “And it doesn’t cost a dime!” Here are eight ways you can start using these sites to your advantage to find more positivity (and productivity) in your social-media habits -- and maybe even accomplish some great things in the process.
1. Create a Supportive Virtual Environment
According to Denver-based career and life coach Jenn DeWall, M.B.A., CPC, the first step in goal achievement via social media is freeing up your social space from negativity by unfollowing or unfriending the people that just don’t make you happy. “We’ve all had the experience where you’re having the best day, and then you log on to Facebook only to get frustrated or annoyed by a post from an ex or an acquaintance you don’t really like,” she says. “Build an environment of people you love and dump the ones that don’t create that positive energy for you.” This way you won’t be distracted -- or brought down by -- posts or pictures that can interfere with your happiness and goals.
2. Ask for Support
The easiest way to find support for your goals on Facebook is to simply ask for it via a status update, Eslinger says. Be direct and really own your goal in order to get the encouragement you’re looking for. “Instead of posting ‘I need your support, something amazing is about to happen,’ say ‘I am about to reach my goal weight and just have 10 pounds left to lose. All encouragement appreciated,’” she advises. “Being clear is a major component to reaching your goals -- especially for your support system, so they understand how to help you.”
3. Stay Accountable, Post Your Progress
You can also use status updates as a way of writing down your goals, an act that’s been proven to enhance goal achievement, Eslinger says. “By publicly announcing your goal to everyone you are connected with online, you are more likely to follow through than if you hold your dream in silence,” she explains. Try upping the accountability ante by using visuals too. Photos are a great way to mark your progress and celebrate when you reach a goal. “Run a marathon? Show a photo of your medal. Lose weight? Show a photo of your skinny jeans. New job? Show a photo of your new desk,” Eslinger advises. You might also consider thanking those who have supported you along the way by tagging them in your posts as well.
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4. Find -- or Start -- a Motivational Group
Connecting with similarly focused people is a great way to stay inspired while moving toward a goal, DeWall says. By requesting to join a specific, closed Facebook group geared toward what you’re working on, you are better able to focus on your goal at hand and get support and advice from others while also maintaining your privacy. Not finding a group that’s tailored to your specific goal? Eslinger suggests starting your own. “Leading a group around your topic could be a great way to inspire others while keeping yourself on track,” she says.
5. Position Yourself as an Industry Expert
When it comes to career-related goals, whether it’s building a solid reputation, expanding your platform or rising the ranks, LinkedIn provides a great opportunity to show who you are to a work-focused community and engage with like-minded professionals. “Post fun images around your topic of expertise: photos at industry meetings, your latest product launch or articles related to your line of work,” Eslinger advises. “You can even post about other people’s products and events or books in your field that you admire. As long as you stay on topic, any post will help boost your credentials as a smart, informed expert.”
6. Create a Virtual Vision Board
Clarity is a crucial component of goal setting, Eslinger says, to the point that not having a clear picture of what you want and why could doom you from the start. A vision board, therefore, is an important tool for zeroing in on what you’re working toward. That’s where Pinterest comes in handy. “Pinterest images can help further inform the exact details of your goals or promise,” she advises. “Start a private board where you collect images that inspire and inform your goal.” You might also share a board with a friend who has the same goal as you to keep each other on track. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, you could create a private board with healthy recipes and ask him or her to contribute to it.
7. Regularly Use Motivational Hashtags
If you’re one of the more than 300 million users scrolling through Instagram, you’re likely familiar with the concept of hashtags, but you may not realize that they can be important motivational tools. Eslinger suggests using them to connect with others who are interested in the same topics or goals by adding tags to your photos that are targeted to your mission. “The engagement level is usually higher [on Instagram over Facebook], meaning more interaction (i.e., likes) on photos and videos shared. Because of this, Instagram can be a more intimate setting as well as a more supportive environment,” she says. You can also click relevant hashtags to find people who are working on similar goals or who lead lifestyles that inspire you for even more encouragement.
8. Inspire Others
“Social media is sometimes scrutinized as a channel that is overly self-edited, where people only post what’s good in their lives,” Eslinger says. But this isn’t always such a bad thing: What you reap is what you sow, after all. Don’t be shy about using social media as a means of manifestation by being positive about your goals and celebrating your success -- you could inspire others. However, if you’re having struggles or setbacks, that doesn’t mean you should pretend that everything is awesome, DeWall says. Rather than using social media as merely a highlight reel, you can encourage others by sharing your real feelings and authentic lessons you’ve learned through your journey. “Finding people who have ‘been there’ can create a deepened, more meaningful experience and inspire people to continue working toward their own goals,” she says.
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What Do YOU Think?
What inspires you to achieve your goals? Have you checked out the LIVESTRONG.COM Community to share your fitness goals and find motivation from other people who are doing the same? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.