Welcome to Part 3 of our Strategic Action Series on Motivation and Goal Setting. In this part, we will explore the importance of making daily motivation a habit to achieve your goals.
Motivation is a funny thing. It is spoken about like a mythical beast, a unicorn spotted only occasionally in some magical forest. And it can feel that way when you are trying to capture it!
The reason being is that motivation is pretty fleeting. Most of us have busy, tiring lives, unrelated to what humans were designed to do. We sit too long, we sleep too little and we consume stuff that doesn’t nourish us, both in terms of food and intellectual consumption. We move too little, work too much and definitely don’t take enough advantage of being the only animal on earth that can really, properly laugh. So it’s not surprising that motivation can fade away with these pressures on us.
The trick is to circumvent the need for motivation, by developing discipline. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? I know. I don’t have great memories of discipline from school and being a young person. To me, it meant doing what I was required to do for fear of punishment of some sort. Be that official, or in the form of guilt, neither are great motivators.
Self-discipline, I’m happy to report, is a whole different ball game! And it is a whole lot more reliable than the initial motivation you feel at the beginning of a project.
Self-discipline is a question of deciding what you want and choosing every day to take a little step toward that. And it is pretty personal.
It might be that your discipline comes into play when food shopping, so none of the junky stuff gets into your trolley. That way you don’t need to rely on your motivation to lose weight whenever you are at home and tempted by your snack of choice.
You might be working on your side hustle or business around a day job. Some days you just won’t feel like doing it. You will be tired, you won’t feel like it. But to have the discipline to achieve your absolute minimum of daily tasks will still move you forward.
To continue our marathon example, you might lay out your running clothes for the whole week (inc underwear, socks and relevant weather gear) somewhere you see as soon as you wake up. Do this once a week and you will have fewer excuses to make every morning. ‘I can’t find my head torch, I’ll go later when I’ve found it.’
That motivation felt so strongly when you visualised yourself crossing the line at the Boston Marathon, falling into the arms of loved ones as the crowd roars, will be nowhere to be seen first thing on a cold morning when you have a training run or a hike planned and feel too tired to want to do it. Self-discipline, good habits, and a reminder of your ‘why’ will get you warmed up in no time.
Reevaluate the plan
It’s very rare that the plan made at the beginning will take you all the way to a goal. It will need to be tweaked, finessed, and sometimes even reworked completely once you have got onto the pathway that leads to your goal.
Building in time to reevaluate your plan is essential. Weekly, monthly or whatever suits your goal, check in with your progress. How is the plan working with the rest of your life? Are you making the progress you thought? Are you enjoying the process? What resistance are you feeling around your goal plan? Do you need some additional help or support?
These questions can help you reevaluate your plan and schedule in a way that suits you best.
Adjust the plan
Picking up an injury will require a change to the marathon training plan. Having an illness, even a cold, might mean you aren’t where the plan said you would be. You might also get fitter faster than you realised, meaning your plan can be stepped up sooner than you expected. You might meet someone with some tips you can add to your training routine.
All of these things need to be reflected in your plan and schedule.
When you regularly reevaluate your progress you create a powerful feedback loop. Without this feedback, it’s possible to be following entirely the wrong plan for you or your goal.
It’s key here not to scrap the plan and start again from scratch. This will almost inevitably be followed by remorse at ‘time wasted’, ‘failure’ and all the unhelpful associations we have with actually living in a normal human way. Almost no plan works perfectly the first time, instead requires changes and adjustments as we go on. After all, a baby just doesn’t stand up and start sprinting as fast as Linford Christie. There is a long series of probing, trying, reevaluating, adding in crutches and supports, and trying again to get first from crawler to walker, then walker to a runner.
There we have it, our series on motivation and goal setting. Now, take what you have learned and live your dream life.
This post was kindly written by Alexandra from alexandratozercoaching.com