One of the most important parts of achieving any goal is staying motivated. Goal motivation, it turns out, is a pretty big deal if you want to reach your target. Motivation is the fuel for the “engine” that’s going to carry you from your starting point to your goal target.
Obviously, goal motivation does not take anything away from properly planning and preparing for your goal – using the GREATER² Goal Achievement System, of course. However, it’s just as important and somewhat overlooked.
What Exactly is Goal Motivation?
According to Beata Souders, motivation is defined as “… wanting a change …”.
The Cambridge dictionary defines motivation as “enthusiasm for doing something”.
These definitions seem pretty straightforward. I think we can, therefore, define goal motivation as the desire and enthusiasm to make a change in your situation or life.
However, if you know anything about how slippery the concept of motivation is, you’ll know that such a definition belies the true complexity of the situation.
You see, when we talk about motivation, we also need to rope inspiration and perseverance into the discussion – and talk about what they are and how they dovetail with motivation.
Motivation and inspiration are very similar to one another. They are like fraternal (non-identical) twins. In fact, inspiration is the initial impulse that gives rise to motivation. As Sam Taggart says, inspiration is the “pull” factor and motivation the “push”. This pretty much hits the nail on the head.
As for motivation and perseverance, they are quite different beasts. The way I like to envision it that they exist in a cyclical relationship. Motivation gets you moving on the path to your goal and when that runs out, your perseverance (basically your stubbornness and will to succeed, along with a good dose of already-established habit) carries you forward, allowing you to make headway. That headway, in turn, will motivate you once more if your mindset is properly prepared to embrace it.
To sum all of this up, we can see that there is a “process”, starting with inspiration, which then flows into motivation. This starts the engine that carries you forward towards your goal. And when your motivation starts to run dry, perseverance kicks in to keep the engine running until you can refill your motivation fuel tank.
How Do I Get Motivated for My Goals?
Ah, this is the ten million dollar question. Here are a few “secrets” to staying motivated.
Secret 1: Be Inspired
Although it’s not always possible, try to set goals that inspire you. Your goals should align with your passion wherever possible. Passion is one of the most effective motivation tools available to you as it will not only increase your drive to achieve but also bolster your perseverance.
If your goal is not inspiring, try to re-frame it so that at least parts of it are.
Secret 2: Be Realistic
When approaching your goal, find out about the pitfalls that may face you on your path towards it and mentally prepare yourself for them. Depending on the duration and complexity of the goal you should also factor in that unforeseen events and detours might crop up, making the seemingly straightforward path from where you are to your ultimate goal far less direct.
Secret 3: Commit To Your Goal
Take the time to consciously commit to achieving your goal. A good way to do this is to write down your commitment and then refer to it often, especially when you feel that your motivation is flagging. One thing to remember is to write down your “why”; why are trying to achieve your goal? What makes it so important to you and your life?
A good way to do this is to create a Motivational Visualization in which you describe yourself after having achieved the goal you are setting. The important thing here is that whatever you visualize must answer the question “why are you doing this?” I call it your “Ultimate WHY” (yes, the caps are required).
A Motivational Visualization is an incredibly inspiring way of committing yourself to your goal from the perspective of already having attained it, an effective psychological trick that draws you towards a successful outcome.
Secret 4: Set Achievable Step Goals
Staying motivated for a long stretch of time is extremely difficult, which is why I suggest breaking your goal path into manageable step goals, mini-goals that are less taxing than trying to go for your ultimate goal, and which you can achieve far more easily. You then only have to stay motivated for the duration of the immediate step goal, nothing beyond that. Once you reach the step goal, you can refill your motivation fuel tank, take a breather and then set out towards the next one.
Not only do step goals make achieving your ultimate goal easier, but you will also enjoy a burst of motivation from the achievement of the step goal itself, which acts as inspiration for the undertaking to achieve the next one.
Secret 5: Remind Yourself … Often
Reminders function to keep your step goal or ultimate goal firmly in front of your eyes – literally. Reminders can be automated alerts on your cellphone or computer or slips of paper dotted around your home and/or office that offer motivation for you to keep pushing forward towards your goal. They remind you what you need to do, and more importantly, why you are doing it.
Secret 6: Be Accountable
An extremely effective tool that can go a long way towards helping you achieve your goal is finding an accountability partner, sometimes called an accountability buddy. This person will undertake to hold you accountable for your failure to achieve your goal. Studies reveal that social pressure to perform is one of the best ways to ensure success as it is built into us not to want to let others down. You can use that tendency to help you reach your goals.
Secret 7: Reward Yourself
You can also create rewards for achieving your step goals or your ultimate goal. The size of the rewards should match the importance of the achievement – small achievement, small rewards, big achievement, big reward. If you think this will work for you, be sure to make the reward for achieving your main goal something really worthwhile. Looking forward to receiving the reward will go a long way towards motivating you.
Another tip is, where you have an accountability partner, to hand over the control of the rewards to them so that you cannot cheat.
Secret 8: Set Penalties
In contrast to rewards, penalties kick in when you fail to meet a step goal or your ultimate goal. Penalties should not be seen as punishments, but rather as “corrective incentives”. Penalties could include doing things that you have been putting off or that you don’t want to do (cleaning out the garage springs to mind) or they could be public service-related like cleaning up the trash in a public park or on your favorite beach.
Secret 9: Be Optimistic
Try to focus on maintaining an optimistic outlook. This can be difficult, but with practice, you will find that it becomes easier. Optimism is empowering and it can go a long way towards bolstering your motivation. You can harness the reinforcement provided by tools like your motivational visualization, reminders and rewards to help you maintain an optimistic outlook.
Secret 10: Prepare for Motivation Running Dry
Remember that it’s impossible to keep yourself motivated all of the time. That is why you must practice perseverance to carry you to your next achievement. Perseverance improves with practice and will move you forward even when your motivation has evaporated. As soon as you achieve a step goal or other achievement, you will find it easier to become motivated once more.
Achieving your goals will most probably not be easy. Hopefully, you realize that. And one of the most important factors that determine whether or not you will have what it takes to reach your goals is motivation. Harness it and success is yours. Fail to do so and your chances of success are diminished. However, using some or all of the goal motivation “secrets” listed above, you will be able to greatly improve your chances. Try them out and you’ll see.