Goal setting and envisioning yourself reaching your aspirations is an important (and I would argue vital) part of the process, but that’s only the first step. We all love setting huge goals for ourselves, because it feels so good thinking about potentially achieving those goals. We get a dopamine hit when we envision ourselves succeeding. What we often avoid thinking about is actually doing it. We forget to anticipate any challenges we may face throughout the process. So how do we go about goal setting and actually taking strides towards those goals?
Well to start off, I believe it’s crucial to determine your goals from the start. What’s most important to you? What aspect of your life are you not happy with and want to change? Once you identify the area of your life that needs attention, set a goal for yourself. A MEASURABLE, specific, attainable, actionable goal. “I want to be healthier” is not specific enough! Once you set that goal, you MUST determine your why. Your why is what keeps you going when things get hard. How do you figure out your why? Say your goal is to lose 15 pounds. Okay, why do you want to lose 15 pounds? Well, I know I’ll have more energy if I lose 15 pounds. Why do you want more energy? I want to be able to make it through the day with energy instead of being tired and going through the motions. Why? I want to have enough energy to play in the yard with my kids for longer than 5 minutes. Ahhhhhhh, there we go. That’s your why- your kids. You have to keep asking yourself why until you get to the deepest and most meaningful reason to change. Determining this why early on keeps you going when shit gets hard - when you want to snooze the alarm instead of hitting the gym, when the pizza is staring you in the face, when it’s raining out and you’re supposed to go for a run, you name it. You WILL experience challenges on your path to achieving your goal, but your why gives you the strength to overcome those challenges. Not having a why = challenge presents itself, you succumb to comfort. Having a why = challenge presents itself and your why helps you see the challenge as an opportunity to grow and become closer to your goals.
So once you set your goal and determine your deeper why, you must set up an action plan. Setting the goal and figuring out your why in and of itself isn’t how you create change. Your action plan is HOW you’re going to create that change. This, like your goal, needs to be specific and attainable. For example, I’m going to go to the workout class at my gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week at 8am. Or I’m going to eat at least 3 servings of vegetables 4 out of the 7 days this week. Then do any prep work necessary to set yourself up for success like getting your gym clothes out the night before or putting your veggies in containers to take to work. Track your progress. Did you do the action plan? If it was too hard to accomplish, scale it down a little. If it was too easy, pick it up a notch the following week.
This brings me to motivation. Many people have asked me how I constantly stay motivated. The truth? I don’t. I would say 9 times out of 10 I’m not motivated to get up and do hard things. I quite honestly think motivation is BS! What gets me up and grinding every single day NO QUESTIONS ASKED is my why. My why keeps me disciplined. My why keeps me continuing to fight even when I’m tired and don’t want to anymore. My why for each and every one of my goals is so deep and meaningful to me, that the choice to do the work every day is simple (not easy…. simple). When you determine your action plan, your own core values and your why make all of the steps you take feel like autopilot. You establish what’s meaningful to you early on so it’s not even a question of whether or not you’ll do the hard thing today that will contribute to your goals.
Yes, I have days where I am so motivated out of nowhere, but my daily actions only happen because of the priorities and habits I worked so hard to ingrain in my life. So, if you’re waiting for that motivation to go workout or make a clean dinner or write that book you want to write, you’ll probably be waiting forever. Action creates change. Take action TODAY.