What motivates you? Why does it matter? We’ve talked a lot about setting goals, but if we don’t have the right motives, we will never reach those goals. We first have to decide why we want something in order to be able to stay on track and be diligent until we get there. We’ve talked about setting financial goals and personal goals, so let’s take the next necessary step to ensuring our success in reaching those goals.
We are all motivated by different things. Some people are motivated by praise, some by getting a prize, a lot are motivated by money. I myself am motivated by accomplishment, like getting a medal at the end of a race. Maybe we’re motivated by fitting into a pair of jeans that we haven’t worn for a while. Reaching a goal can take time, sometimes weeks but oftentimes years. Staying on track for a long time can be a daunting task. You can see why we need to find out why we want to accomplish something in order to be able to stick with a plan long enough to accomplish it.
When I set my sights on a half marathon, usually the motivation to do it involves keeping me on a steady training schedule. This keeps me on track for improving my running so that I can get that bling at the end. When I decided to return to school, it was a job I wanted that kept me focused on finishing even when I was exhausted. If I had not kept my eye on the prize, I would have bailed at least a hundred times in the process.
How do you find what your motivation is? Steven R. Covey talks about “beginning with the end in mind.” Maybe you need to think about where you are going, then map out your path to get there. What do you want your life to look like? Steve Chandler, in his book “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself”, talks about simplifying your life. Maybe we need to keep our goals short and simple. Often we want to do something, and we have a whole paragraph explaining why we want to do it. Try simplifying, give yourself your two top reasons to accomplish this goal and stick with those.
The other important factor is to make sure that your goals are your own. You are going to have a hard time staying motivated if your goals are not truly your own. Make sure you set goals that are very personal, and that will enhance your own life. Don’t set a goal to please someone else, because you will have a hard time following through with it, which will lead to a greater sense of failure.
What are your goals? Let’s talk about a few common ones and see if we can find our own inner motivation.
- Becoming debt free. Because you want to retire earlier? You want to be able to travel all over the world? (where and when?) You want to be able to give more? (how much and to whom?)
- Learning to fly fish/rock climb/mountain climb/kayak/snowboard. Because you think it looks fun? It looks challenging and rewarding? It will get you outside where you love to be? You want to share activities with your family?
- Losing weight. This one is a tough one, because often our motivation needs to be really strong to stick to it. Do you want to be able to get off certain medications? Be able to ride your bike with your kids? Look good in your children’s wedding photos? (wait, that’s me….)
- Start a new business. Because you want to work on your own schedule? (why?) Because you want the potential to make more money? You want to do something fun? Keep in mind that although running your own business can be really rewarding, it can also be very challenging, so make sure you have a strong sense of your motivation.
- Running in a 5k/10k/half or whole marathon/relay. Because you want to stay in shape? You want to be able to chase your kids or grandkids around the yard? Because you want to lose weight or feel healthier?
It doesn’t matter what your goals are, remember these are your own personal goals so they can be anything you want them to be. It doesn’t matter what others think, or what motivates them. The only thing that matters is what your own goals and motivations are, these are the factors that will determine how successful you will be in attaining them. Take some quiet time, write down a few of your own goals. Start small so you don’t overwhelm yourself. And dig deep and think really hard about what will motivate you to stick to your plan to accomplish those goals.
What motivates you? Have you found something that helps you stay on track?