6 Actionable Steps to Accomplish Your Goals (and the Danger of Motivation)

In our last blog post, we mentioned five items you could do to begin taking action.

In this article, we will expand on those five items to give you some clear, yet in-depth, ways to take action.

 

caution

Beware of Motivation

Motivation is often the initiator for goals. When people remain motivated, they work towards their goal.

But, when they lose motivation, they fade away from working on their goal.

The problem in this equation is the use of motivation. I do not believe motivation should ever be given this much power in our lives. Yet, we grant it as all powerful too many times.

 

Motivation Defined

Consider what motivation is.

Psychology Today defines the term as follows: “Motivation is literally the desire to do things”.

The issue with this term, then, is that it is a desire to do things.

The problem with desire is that it fluctuates. It is not a term that invokes a sense of steadiness and consistency. Rather, it is more of a stop/start concept.

Motivation is great when it is used properly.

  • Boosting your staff at work on a Wednesday to work hard and make it to the weekend, motivation is a great tool.
  • Trying to finish running a 5K, motivation would be good to use on your final lap.
  • Saving $250 towards the purchase of an item that costs $300, motivation would be wonderful to help you save the last $50.

Do you see a trend here? Motivation is good at temporary solutions. And, it is especially useful when you are close to reaching a goal as it can boost you over the finish line.

 

Motivation is Unreliable

However, you would not want to rely on motivation for your career. Consider this line of statements:

  • Most people begin work after high school or college.
  • So, most enter the workforce between the ages of 18-22.
  • Retirement is typically considered to take place around the ages of 60-65.
  • If you do the math, the average person may work 38-47 years before retirement!

Now, you would not want to rely on motivation to stay in your career. Motivation may expire after your first year, month, or even week at work!

There are plenty of mornings that I wake up and do not feel motivated to go to work. I do not have that temporary desire to get ready, drive to the office, and begin the job.

Yet, I do it anyway (most of the time!). But, it is not because of motivation. There are other drivers that propel me.

This is why you cannot rely on motivation to help you meet your goals. You could be motivated to be on a diet for a month, but at some point, the craving for a milkshake, a pizza, or a large order of french fries will tempt you into failure.

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This is why you need to learn how to use motivation when useful, but not to rely on it solely.

 

The Action Steps

IF your goal is important to you, here are some actionable items to help you work towards the accomplishment of it.

  1. Make a plan for it.
  2. Write it out.
  3. Find the help you need.
  4. Build accountability.
  5. Be patient.
  6. Don’t use other people’s “talent and luck” as an excuse not to work for your dreams.

 

1. Make a Plan for It

Consider your goal.

What is it that you really want to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish it? What will be the benefits?

Take some time and ponder on these topics. Try considering how the goal could be accomplished. Walk yourself through it, but do not assume how easy it would be.

And, do not romanticize a simple process. Explain to yourself how you would explain it to others.

Would it make sense to someone else? What would they say your issues, barriers, or weaknesses might be? In this step, just get the idea formulated in your mind.

 

2. Write It Out

Once you have the goal firmly identified in your mind, along with a plan for how to accomplish it, write it down.

This step may seem remarkably easy compared to the first step. But, it’s twice as important!

Research shows that when you take the time to write something down, it holds more importance and worth to you. When you write it down, you psychologically acknowledge it differently. You remember it better. And, you now have a reminder to, hopefully, keep you focused on it.

 

3. Find the Help You Need

This specific step directly refers to learning the information you need to accomplish your goal.

At this point, do NOT contact your friends for advice. Instead, contact professionals in the field related to your goal.

Even if your friend is a professional, do not contact him/her yet. The reason is that you do not want friendship to skew any information you may receive.

 

Consider the goal of losing weight.

If your goal is to lose twenty pounds, then you need to find out the foods you should eat to increase metabolism, reduce fat, and ultimately shed the weight.

It may involve meeting with your physician. You may need to follow that appointment with an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist. It might be needed to secure a personal trainer, or at least ask a fitness expert for some advice.

The point here is that you should not consider yourself an expert on how to meet your goal. Rather, you should seek out everyone you know that may have data or information that would help you learn how to meet your goal.

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Note: Based on what you learn in this step, you may need to revise the plan you wrote out in Step 2. (Take the time to re-write it.)

 

4. Build Accountability

At this point, you should call on your friends for help, not advice.

If you did Step 3, you already have the advice you need from professionals that have heard your goal, considered your needs, and given you knowledge specifically for you to accomplish your goal.

So, make it clear to your friends that you know what to do.

accountability

The need you have for your friends is to hold you accountable. Tell them what your goal is. Explain why you want to do it. Tell them that you have sought professional advice and now have a written plan that a professional agrees will help you.

Just seek them to help you stay on track.

You may want to set some dates to reach certain points of achievement.

For instance, if you are working to lose twenty pounds in three months, attempt to lose the first five pounds within two weeks. Set a date. Establish the goal. And tell your friends to help you work towards it.

With a strong support group in place, you will get motivated by multiple people at multiple times, which will help you to stay focused.

In addition, if you value these friends, you will not want to let them down. So, once you have asked for their help, you will want to accomplish the goal for them.

 

5. Be Patient

This is the most difficult step of them all. You must remain consistent and keep working towards your goal.

Realize that your goal may not be accomplished in a day, week, or even a month. The best and most worthy of goals often take long periods of time to be accomplished.

In addition, you may have setbacks along the way. But, do not let those setbacks derail your progress.

Let’s consider a goal of saving $1,000 for Christmas.

There are presents to buy, but you may also like to give some money to charity, buy extra gasoline to travel to a family member’s home, and maybe other things.

So, begin the goal in May with the plan to save $150 a month for the seven months leading up to Christmas. You save $150 in May, June, July, August, and September.

By this point, you have $750 saved, and then your car breaks down, which costs you $200 you did not have saved.

It could be easy to think that your goal of a $1000 for Christmas is not going to work, but do not let a setback (or two, or three, or four) prevent you from moving forward.

Pay the $200. You are now down to $550 in savings. But, you still have October and November left, which would bring in $300 if you stayed on track.

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Since you had a setback, revise your goal of $150 a month to $225 a month. Now, over the two months, you’ll save what you need to meet your goal of $1000.

Or, if money was not available to raise your goal, consider revising your end amount to $850, instead of $1000, by simply reducing the amount you give away in presents for instance.

The point here is that you do not eliminate your goal because you have a setback. You push through, revising your plans as needed to be successful.

Examples:
  • Weight loss is done best over a long period of time. Remember that losing two pounds in a week may not seem to motivate you. But, over ten weeks, you will have lost twenty pounds.
  • Saving for retirement is best done in a consistent manner. However, if you cannot do that, it is second best to do it earlier in life than later in life. If you save the same amount of money from age 20-30 as you would from 50-60, you will have earned more money due to compound interest adding up the total. But, those who save from 20-60, even if less is invested than from 20-30, will have substantially more money.
    • Here are some numbers, as examples, to prove this point:
      • Invest $10,000 by age 30 @ 7% rate of return will give you $76,123 at age 60.
      • Invest $10,000 by age 50 @ 7% rate of return will give you $19,672 at age 60.
      • By investing the same amount of money 20 years earlier, $56,451 is profited.
    • Now, let’s consider how the numbers change if someone steadily invests over the entire time frame.
      • We know a $10,000 investment becomes $76,123 over 30 years.
      • But, by adding $50 a month to it over 30 years, the $76,123 becomes $134,595. This is a difference of $58,472.
      • Out of the $58,472, only $18,000 was placed by you. (Over 30 years, $50 a month equals $18,000.)
    • By being consistent, you maximize your ability to be successful.

 

6*. Don’t use other people’s “talent and luck” as an excuse not to work for your dreams.

*The final step is not a step at all. It is a reminder. And, it is a warning.

Never use other people’s “talent and luck” as an excuse.

Do not look at their success or lack of success as a predictor of your goal.

If you implement the steps above properly and work towards it consistently, it will not matter what someone else does with their goals. You must focus on you, your goal, and your continual progress to get there.

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